The Art of Exploration · a diary of day trips, natural places, and miscellaneous adventures

Finding Winter

Sunday, April 19th, 2015 in Colorado
Finding Winter

This past week, a large, slow-moving storm system passed through the Front Range. At lower elevations it started out as snow, but the temperatures warmed and the snow gave way to copious amounts of rain. Higher up though, the snow remained snow for the duration. By the end of the storm, there was a fresh blanket of white stuff several feet deep in places.

One of those places happened to be Bear Lake. The storm dumped 36 inches of new snow at Bear Lake, bringing the total depth of snow in the area to an impressive 51 inches. Snow like that means it’s time to forget about spring. Yes, you heard me right: forget about spring—it’s time to find some serious winter.

Trail to Nymph Lake

Now, lest you think I’ve lost my mind, I will acknowledge that when I lived in Chicago, even the slightest hint of snow in April would have hurled me headlong into a state of unmitigated despair. But I have discovered that here in Colorado, snow in April is a very different thing—it is magical, it is transient, it stays mostly in the mountains. And it’s worth seeking out because more than anything else it’s breathtaking.

Trail to Nymph Lake

A covering of snow on a mountain landscape muffles sound in an already quiet place. As hikers pass by, their voices sound close and soft—as if you’re all politely wandering around in one big, white-carpeted living room. Hiking in such conditions has the rare ability to slow time and entices you to be hyper-aware. You can hear the snow, first as it slips from tree branches and then again as it hits the powdery ground below. If you accidentally step off the carefully groomed trail, you sink fast: you’re ankle-deep, knee-deep, waist-deep. You’ve postholed. But you don’t mind because it’s the lightest, driest, most cotton-like snow you’ve ever encountered.

Of course, you should use snowshoes in such conditions. I was poorly prepared today because I never thought I would get this far—I didn’t think the roads would be clear up to Bear Lake. I didn’t check the avalanche conditions. I failed to bring my snowshoes and hiking poles. Consequently, I made a short, careful hike from Bear Lake to Nymph Lake in my bare-naked Merrell Moab Ventilators. Had I know better, I would have been properly-equipped and ready to hike all the way to Dream Lake. Ah well, next time.

Trail to Nymph Lake
Tags for this entry:   

Assortment

Del Valle Regional Park
Del Valle Regional Park
It’s difficult to not take it personally when you get kicked out of a National Park. Especially when you’re someone who adores National Parks as much as I do. It soon became clear that the debt ceiling crisis was not going to resolve itself any time soon.
Parade of Elephants
Parade of Elephants
The thing that struck me about Arches National Park was that it so plainly illustrates the vast number of ways there are to erode a rock. There were wind-warn rocks, water-sculpted rocks, and crumbling-from-beneath rocks.
Tide Watching in St. Ives
Tide Watching in St. Ives
Each year for the past five years, we’ve journeyed to the ends of Britain in search of a bit of peace and quiet. Sometimes in late fall, sometimes in early spring we make our odyssey.