It has been ages since my last hike. So, last Saturday, with a favorable weather forecast, I headed up to the park for a walk in the snow. When I set out this morning, I figured I’d head to the Loch. It’s a short hike, so I was in no hurry to hit the road. I left a bit before 9, figuring I’d be at the trailhead by 10:30.
Last time I headed to Estes Park, US 36 was open and Colorado 7 was closed. Today it was the other way around due to blasting operations near mile marker 12. This was my first trip on 7 between Lyons and the junction with 72, where the canyon is quite narrow. I’m surprised how much of the road didn’t get washed out in some parts. The river channel was simply scoured out. Looked to me like most of the debris has been removed and long sections of river bank have been sculpted.
The section of road from Allens Park to Estes Park is getting pretty beat up. While 36 was closed in the immediate aftermath of the flooding, all logistical support for Estes went on this road resulting in long sections of fairly rough pavement with lots of potholes. Traffic was moving about the speed limit, which was in places faster than I wanted to go because the road is so beat up.
So, with the late start and the longer route to the trailhead, I arrived at Glacier Gorge parking lot later than I’d hoped. All the spots were taken except the parallel spots. An important rule driving the Elise is to never parallel park. I did stop there for a few minutes, though. The wind was fierce, I really didn’t want to hike in this. Snow was blowing in huge clouds from all the peaks. I didn’t want to hike to the Loch from Bear Lake, and didn’t want to hike very far, so I parked at Bear Lake and hiked to Dream.
I arrived at Dream at a quarter to noon. In winter, I take the winter route, up the drainage, from Nymph to Dream. A lot of folks follow the summer route. The two meet up again just below Dream. Here, the beaten path is six or eight feet wide, and goes onto the ice along the north shore. I looked for a spot on the south bank where I could set up the GoPro and have my picnic in the trees, out of the wind.
I went about half way across the lake where I found a small tree on a tuft of grass. I put the camera here, using the tree for support and as low to the ground as I could. I headed to the trees and looked for a picnic spot. The wind was fierce. When I stood with no trees in front of me, gusts occasionally knocked me off balance. I found I could get three or four trees deep from the lake and still find a window with a view.
After I ate, I stood watching the snow blow off the mountains, but after only a few minutes of this I was getting cold. I retreated into the trees, which helped. In the summer I have no problem finding a comfortable spot to watch the world go by for an hour. But in winter the winds are just relentless. I needed to do something, to move around and generate some warmth. I took the SLR out on the ice to see if there was anything interesting.
The ice looks like the top of a choppy lake. Little white caps of snow are on the ice. And the ice isn’t flat. The snow forms these odd little ice lattices; these lattices look like little dunes on the ice. I took several photos in an attempt to show what these things look like, but none show them very well. The jumble of white lines are not in the ice, or part of the surface of the ice. Like ripples of sand under moving water, these little walls of ice make many-celled miniature dunes on the thick ice.I head back to my stuff and am quickly met by hikers coming through the trees. I thought it was pretty odd that they’d come that way. They even asked where most people hike, so I pointed to the other bank. I decided that I’d wait for them to enter the trees on the west side of the lake before I shut the camera off. When they got half way there they stopped for a conference. Then more hikers pop out of the trees along the same path as the first two. My little picnic area off the beaten path somehow became the beaten path. More hikers kept coming through the trees. Could non of these people follow a six foot wide road of footprints and ski tracks?
The hike back to the car was quite crowded. Just about everybody going up to Nymph was wearing snow shoes. There were a few skiers, and a few people in sneakers. I didn’t see anybody else using micro spikes. There’s really no need for snow shoes unless you’re going off the beaten path.