Thanks to a “use it or lose it” vacation policy, I took yesterday off from work – Nothing like a 3-day weekend! As I wasn’t sick, and the weather forecast was favorable (typically it snows on my day off!), I made plans to meet up with a friend from Hawaii that also lives in Colorado, and do a day hike to Chasm Lake near Longs Peak.
I left the house at 6am, drove an hour north to Gunbarrel to meet David, then we drove another hour+ north-west to (eventually) reach the Longs Peak trailhead 1.75 hours later. Yeah, we got a little lost finding the trailhead so we didn’t get boots on ground until almost 9am (an hour later than originally planned). The first part of the hike through Goblins Forest was a mix of ice and snow which didn’t make for fast hiking! Once we got out of there and above the tree line it was mostly a mixture of packed snow and some unexpected areas of foot deep snow. Snowshoes would have been really nice at times. An hour or so later and we didn’t have much of a trail to follow and ended up scrambling over boulders onto the ridge to the north of Mills Moraine.
About 30mins later we had to traverse a snowfield which was a little sketchy in places. Having an ice-axe would have been a nice piece of (hope to not need to use) safety gear! After the snowfield it was a fairly easy hike to finally get a few of Chasm Lake (More like Chasm ice skating rink due to it being frozen solid). The weather up there was as perfect as we could have expected. One or two small clouds in the sky, but mostly clear blue overhead, and the occasional 35mph wind gust between periods of zero wind.
After sitting around at the top eating lunch and shooting photos we started our hike back down – Typically where shit goes wrong! We took a different route back to the snowfield that definitely had a higher pucker factor… Clinging to a rock face… Using hands as a human ice axe (but into snow)… Sliding / dropping onto a 45deg slope of snow… Check, check, and check. Laughs and high-fives were shared after that. By the time we hit the snowfield the compacted snow was sitting on a layer that had become a little more slushy. We definitely took a bit more care heading back! The rest of the hike down was pretty quick and easier thanks to some slushier snow and less ice.
Not “epic” by any means, but a solid winter hike that lefts my legs pretty knackered. No complaints though… I’ll take a Monday like that any day! Bonus = We didn’t see any other humans until we were half way back to the car (all thanks to hiking on a weekday vs. the weekend which would have been a zoo!)