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Sunday, December 4, 2022

Snowshoeing Montgomery Pass

This is the second time we've done this hike this year. Usually, we don't hike something twice a year unless it's one of the convenient trails near our house. This trail was not convenient to get to since it took almost 2 hours to get all the way up the Poudre Canyon and nearly all the way to Cameron's Pass, but it's a fantastic hike which is why we decided to do it again. This time we did the hike in the snow.

We first hiked to Montgomery Pass in early July when the weather was significantly different. In July, Montgomery Pass was peak wildflower season and that was the start of us becoming obsessed with finding alpine meadows filled with wildflowers. The top of the pass was still reminiscent of the wildflowers with dead flower seed pods sticking up over the snow on fragile dried-out stems. Montgomery Pass is our first snowshoe of the season, and we needed every bit of our snowshoes on this hike. With only one other group in front of us past the fork for the skiing bowl, we were taking steps and sinking a few feet with nearly every step (well I was, Katie had better luck). Because of this, our muscles fatigued quite quickly, something we weren't expecting on such an "easy" hike. This is an easy hike in the summertime, but it was difficult to snowshoe. But having to nearly break the trail made this snowshoe all that more exciting and truer to the reason we go out and adventure in the forest in the winter.

Other than the snow and lack of wildflowers, there were two more noticeable things that were different on this hike now versus in July. First, the State Park service had changed out the summit sign at the top of Montgomery pass. The old one was extremely weathered, but it was really cool. Now it's just a boring metal sign. Secondly, we saw Smoky the Bear at the Arrowhead Lodge Visitor Center. That visitor center has been closed as long as Katie and I can remember, so it was weird to see it finally open back up and to have such an honored guest waving at the cars driving by. We didn't stop to say hi, but they definitely got our attention, and was a completely unexpected sight to see.

We safely hiked this without any problems, just in time since an avalanche warning was posted after we got home for this area for the next few days. There definitely wasn't enough snow at the top of Montgomery Pass to be concerned, but with snow in the forecast (and a storm rolling in as we were finishing up the hike) I can see how this could be dangerous in the coming days. Maybe we should stick to hiking below the treeline for the remainder of the snowshoeing season.

Looking UpNearing the SummitStormy to SunnyBurn ScarFinal PushNew (Boring) SignLight On the MountainsOur Previous SummitDeep Snow

Sunday, December 11, 2022

Crosier Mountain

We stayed a little closer to home this week for our hike. It was refreshing being able to only have to drive 45 minutes to get to the trailhead, but since we weren't in the high country the views were not nearly as great as if we had driven a few hours to get somewhere. But that's okay since being a little lower had two other advantages. First, we were hiking at a lower elevation which meant we could go a little longer between breaks because we didn't get winded nearly as quickly. Secondly, it was considerably warmer than the other hikes we have been doing. So warm that we were both hiking in just our t-shirts most of the way up.

This is the second time we've done Crosier Mountain. We first did this hike in 2020 starting from Glen Haven, so this time we started from the Gravel Pit trailhead which starts a little further East than the trailhead from Glen Haven. Looking back on the photos from the previous hike I think I liked the other trailhead better, but there are 3 trailheads to summit Crosier Mountain, so the next time we hike this in a few years we'll be doing it from the last trailhead. That trailhead is considerably harder than the other two, so that's why we saved that one for last...

The views were great at the top but it was incredibly windy. So windy that the gusts were causing us to lose our balance, which was quite dangerous with the dropoffs all around us. Because of this, we didn't stay very long at the summit before heading back down the trail and finding a different overlook that wasn't as gusty to eat our lunch.

Weathered SignTall AspensLittle Bit of SunThe Mummys1949Washed OutLunch Spot

Sunday, December 18, 2022

Black Lake

We haven't had any snow over the past week but that didn't stop us from finding some snow that required snowshoes. With horrible winds during the week, I thought that there would be pent-up demand, so we got to the Glacier Gorge parking lot around 9 am to find it was only half-filled. Oh well, it was good to get this hike started early since it took us over 5 and a half hours to complete.

Looking at the stats for this hike you might think we're crazy for doing something like this, and I would agree with you. Neither Katie nor I thought this would be a double-digit hike (This is now the 3rd hike we've done over 10 miles), and we didn't think this would be as much elevation as it ended up being (multiple online resources suggested this would be around 1,600 feet of elevation gain, not 2,200). But the views were absolutely stunning at Black Lake and made the pain of hiking there and back worth it. We didn't see very many people during the hike, but the best part was that we had Black Lake all to ourselves.

It was windy during most of the hike, but neither of the lakes we visited were that breezy. That was great luck since most of the time the lakes are windier than the trails themselves, but I wasn't going to question what black magic sorcery made the lakes absent of wind.

We've done a couple of hard hikes in a row now, so I think next week we'll take it easy. There aren't many more hiking days between now and the end of the year, but that doesn't matter since we accomplished our hiking New Year's resolution last month.

The GearThe MummySetting MoonMills LakeLake SelfieLake KissFrozen WoodNo SnowArrowheadTowering TallBlack LakeRestingChilling on the BeachBlue Ice

December 2022

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