Indian Peaks

 

A sudden and unexpected snowstorm hit Boulder on Tuesday, dumping nearly a foot of snow on the city, mucking up traffic and prompting school closures across the county.

 

The city of Boulder officially recorded 11.3 inches of snow for the duration of the storm…and brings the total snowfall in Boulder during December this year to 14 inches.

 

Running season over, marathon count holiday-stalled at 49: 2013 (2), 2014 (15), 2015 (32).  Long year, lotta travel.

Plans for my first weekend off?  Snowshoe hike, nothing like a snow day 🙂  BIG SNOW four days prior – good reason for my first trailhead adventure with the Jeep.  Whole lotta sunshine, gonna be a great day for a December shoe-hike.

Loaded up Ro & headed west thru Boulder Canyon to Nederland, center-town right, 5 minutes+ past Eldora Ski Resort – kicked into 4WD & plowed UP County Road 130 to Hessie Trailhead.  No stopping ‘til we reached the ranger road closure 2 miles down.

Today’s hike destination: Lost Lake, a 3.6-mile out & back trail.

Super easy summer hike, ridiculously crowded camping.  Add a couple feet of snow?  Just ‘bout perfect.  My shoes are older…probably due for a new pair – but Ro doesn’t care.  Off leash & snow, combo my dog lives for.

Surrounded by pine & heavy snow – slight elevation climb 9,000 to 9,800ft – reached Lost Lake in just over an hour.  Highlight: listening to the popping, cracking ice – water moving under the lake surface, heating/shifting in the high altitude sun.  Twice Ro spooked, barked, charged his invisible predator.  LAKE MONSTER!!  LOL>

Tick, tick, tick…only 6 days ’til Christmas.  Nothing like a snow hike to get ya in the mood 🙂

 

 

Spent last weekend with Sis & family, Cheyenne rodeo yesterday, marathoning in San Francisco next weekend – should really be training but it’s summer….sooooo headed to the mountains for a high altitude hike.  Good for the head, good for the soul 🙂

Up early & on the road with my friend Cliff & his dog Pita – today’s destination: Lake Dorothy on the Continental Divide (just west of Nederland).  Was last here in 2012 during my 52-week hike challenge.  Forgot what an adventure it is to reach Fourth of July trailhead – 5 miles of dirt, dodging boulders & potholes in a Prius.  Mental note: 2016 might be the Year of the Truck.

Cool temps & rain in the forecast – typical high mountain forecast – packed extra layers, wore a cap & running gloves.  It’s July, right? 🙂

Mile up Arapaho Pass trail, another mile on Arapaho Glacier trail, then a mile-half to Caribou Pass.  Wildflowers & pine, glacier views & snowed-in mountain peaks.  Crossed over glacier-fed waterfalls; hiked thru marshy tundra – initially hopping stone-to-stone to keep the feet dry.  Eventually gave into the experience – all part of being outdoors.  Lost tree-line just over 12,000ft.

Re-energized with half a Luna bar & soaked it all in.  Beautiful hike.  Clouds enveloped my landscape surroundings; light rain on the hike return.  Nowhere else on Earth I feel more alive & plugged-in.  I’ll never leave Colorado.

 

When it snows East Coast, folks cancel marathons & barricade indoors.  In Colorado, we go outside & play — LOVE our fluffy precip.

Woke early Saturday – destination Brainard Lake.  Roads looked relatively clear after yesterday’s snow – small 2” preview of a storm forecasted to dump 20” later tonite.

DECISION TIME: (1) take the longer route to Brainard – thru Boulder Canyon to Nederland, then north on Peak-to-Peak.  Major roads are plowed more often; however, also risk battling ski traffic to nearby Eldora.  OR (2) choose the more direct route thru Ward – more direct, more scenic but whole lotta curves & lotta vertical incline.

Entering Boulder, roads still looked clear, so headed up Lee Hill Road to Ward.  20 minutes later, winter wonderland.  Downside, I drive a Prius.  Upside, had the road to myself – not many crazy enough to take this path in winter 🙂

Steady speed, wide on the curves.  No slowing down, or would never make the elevation incline in my front-wheel-drive hybrid.

The road thru Ward is straight up – one stop sign mid-way thru town.  UP, UP, UP, 30mph steady.

Past the stop sign & around the curve – sprayed wide but kept enough traction to continue forward.  Popped up on Peak-to-Peak, then gunned the left turn into Indian Peaks.  Only 5 more miles – on snow-packed state forest roads.  Car, don’t fail me now.

Sped into trailhead parking – unplowed, pushed into the first open space…and that’s where I’d berth.

Most of the day’s trek would be on paths forged above summer roadways precip-buried in winter.  Tall lodgepole pines, crisp thin air, fresh powder, no noise.  Impossible not to smile.  This is why we live in Colorado – need this as much as I do food.

2 ½ miles in, walked across Brainard & ate a sandwich near the dam water spill.  Beautiful day.

SNOW came early – big flakes – so started back.  Return was mostly downhill, so picked up pace & enjoyed some high elevation snow jogging 🙂  Snow jogging above 10,000ft – highly recommended.

BBQ in Nederland; ended the day with snow ice cream, my favourite childhood dessert (thanks Cliff).

Day in the mountains – smiling on the outside, beaming from the inside.   LOVE LOVE my Colorado life!

 

 

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