Sunday, January 4, 2015

Snowshoeing Lost Lake Trail

Saturday morning Woody and I went on our first snowshoeing adventure of the year - Lost Lake Trail, in Eldora just west of Nederland, was our destination. It was our first time to this trail - part of the Indian Peaks Wilderness - and Woody picked it based on reviews claiming the trail is "easy going" with "spectacular views." 

To get to Lost Lake Trail we started off at the Hessie Trailhead which is just outside the tiny mining town of Eldora. In the summer, hikers that arrive early enough can park very close to the trailhead, but during the winter roads aren't plowed so we found a spot among other cars of snowshoers already on the trail, that was still within the town limits and almost 1.25 miles away from the trailhead. 

While several weather reports claimed light snow flurries wouldn't begin until after noon, flakes started falling not long after we hit the trail around 10:00am. One thing to always keep in mind when in the mountains - the weather can change quickly!

Like running in the cold, even with several layers on (which is definitely the way to go) it's common to be cold when starting out then quickly warm up as as you start to exert energy. Even before we made it to the trailhead we knew this wasn't going to be an "easy going" trek. Of course, those comments were made during the summer and snowshoeing is more akin to hiking on a sand dune than hiking on a dirt trail.

We also quickly learned that this is a very popular trail. On the way out, we saw several other groups, and a few dogs, making their way up, and the trail is fairly packed down. Unfortunately it's not very well marked and one particular place was a little tricky to find our way as the snow drift had covered the tracks of those ahead of us. A good portion is at least somewhat sheltered from blowing wind by the trees, but definitely not all of it. With the Hessie Trailhead situated at 9,000 ft and an elevation gain of 770 ft over 1.4 miles, there are some pretty steep climbs along the way.

The falling snow made for some beautiful views, but I'd love to see it on a clear day! From what I read on All Trails, there are also waterfalls along the way, which makes sense given that the trail travels along a river and crosses over a few times. 

One thing we could have done better was drink and eat more often. We hardly drank anything on the way up, and I was definitely feeling it by the time we made it to the lake. This can be a big mistake. Even when it's cold, and you might not be thirsty like during a hike in the heat, you still can get dehydrated and that doesn't help things if you also get really cold. Definitely lesson learned because I was getting hangry and that's no fun. Once we stopped to have some team - we picked up an incredible thermos at REI last year that keeps hot tea hot for 4 hours plus - and some snacks, we were both feeling ready for the trek down the mountain.

As with most out and backs, the back always feel faster, but this was even better because we were going downhill pretty much the entire time. The snow hadn't stopped and was actually coming down harder, so we were glad to be heading home when many others were just on their way up. 

All in all, we covered nearly 6 miles and it took us about 3 hours. I know, that sounds like a really long time for that distance, but given how much the snow slows you down, stops along the way for pictures, snowshoe adjustments, figuring out what path to take, chatting with others, and just enjoying the view, I'd say it wasn't that bad.

On the way home, we stopped at the Sundance Lodge & Cafe outside of Nederland for a delicious brunch, stopped alongside the road with other passersby to watch four Elk munch away, and helped dig a guy out of a ditch. Another tip: if you live in snowy areas, pick up a $35 avalanche shovel and keep it in your car, you never know when it might be needed.

Now to decide what trail to explore next!

How are you doing on your 2015 goals? What are you most proud of so far this year?
If you're planning a snowshoe adventure, you may be interested in reading about our trip to Mount Falcon Park.


Lisa said...

Sounds like so much fun! I love snowshoeing and yet I've never done it somewhere like Colorado, which I'm sure is a whole different/better experience. Now I need to go to REI and check out that thermos…sometimes I stash water overnight in the winter and it would be nice to have it not freeze!

Lisa said...

This looks like so much fun and what great scenery. When I scroll down your blog, I'm amazed at the scenery. Have you noticed? Breathtaking!

I'm with you on not hydrating enough in the cold. Still working on that myself. I'm glad you realized that quickly and know what to do next time. Great tip!