Today was the first day I had time and weather to get out into the mountains. I was excited to try out my new MICROspikes from Kahtoola. I had tried several hikes in winter mountains last year without them and it was difficult and scary!
So here they are (above), trying them on for the first time in the parking lot! Just navigating the ice in the Parking Lot had me thinking that I had spent my money wisely!
My test for them was to take place in an area I was familiar with, Bear Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park. Bear Lake has a number of spurs off of it one can take up into the mountains. But, it also has a relatively level hike around the Lake that is only about a mile. Well, the initial trial went so well I was easily drawn in to do an uphill test.
One of the spurs off the lake has a trial that after .4 miles splits and heads up to the top of Flat Top Mountain. It’s 4 miles (as you can see from the sign) and goes gradually uphill, high above the lakes on a trial below that leads to Emerald Lake. Now, I didn’t pretend that I would go that to the top of the mountain on my initial test, but I knew there was a nice overlook of one of the lakes below (Dream Lake) just less than two miles away.
So, I was off. It was a beautiful day. Blue skies and temps in the mid to upper 30s at the elevation I was hiking at. There was 2.5 to 3 feet of snow on the trial. But, it had been well packed down by snowshoers and traction footwear hikers like me. Even though I have been walking and jogging to stay in shape, I soon learned the difference that altitude and snow can make! The MICROspikes worked well though and I felt confident going across some fairly steep areas along the way. I only ‘telephone poled‘ it a couple of times. That’s a term I learned at lunch in town. That’s when you sink into the snow up to your butt!
The only real downside to my hike was the occasional garbage and defacing of trees I found along the trail.
Usually when you get more than 100 yards from the parking lot one does not find these type of problems. The hikers that have worked to get this far are usually very aware of how their behavior can detract from the beauty of this area. Leave No Trace is their mantra. I guess this area (near the beginning of the spur) was low enough that some newbie hikers had made it this far. I only hope they learn quickly the negative effect their careless behavior has on the experience of other hikers and the environment.
The view along the way was beautiful and I was rewarded when I got to the Dream Lake Overlook with a beautiful azure blue sky. You could look over the edge and see hikers walking along the frozen lake below. As for photography, my only complaint was that I could have used a few clouds to make the sky more interesting. But, hey, who’s complaining when this is the view from their office?