The cold air enters my lungs. Happiness comes to my heart. Winter in the mountains provides everything we look for in life. There are peace and quiet. Possibly the most important gift, the struggle that deep snow and cold will provide. This challenge is greater than most of us face on an average day.
It is that time of year again.
My favorite time of year is when I get to ascend into the snowy mountains. It is a difficult task for a man who lives in the Midwest, but I make it happen. I have some trips in the works from early November to early 2019. I am excited to visit some of my favorite trails and see some new spots.
To pick off the start of snow in the mountains, I am going to provide my top 3 trails to snowshoe for Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP).
This is an easy pick. Sky Pond is one of the most popular trails in RMNP. No matter the time of year, this trail will kick your ass. The big difference is, there is no rest at the top during the winter. It is too cold and windy to relax, but you feel amazing all the same. I have made this trail twice in the winter. The last time was early in the morning so I could catch my flight. There was fresh snow the day before, so we got to break the trail in. It was so cold when we got to the top, one camera was frozen, and the others screen wouldn’t turn on. I snapped a few pictures, and we headed down. This trail is hard work, and that is what makes it so great. There is also a fantastic view of the park from the top.
This hike is in the same area as Sky Pond, but not quite as tricky. This trail is 6 miles round trip, and you can keep going twice the distance to see Black Lake. Mills is tucked away between the peaks. When getting up to the water, your world opens up. Glorious mountains all around. All areas of the lake crystal clear. If you hike all the way to the other end, there is a big boulder that you can rest on. Mills is lower than Sky Pond, so it doesn’t feel quite as harsh if you just want a spot to hang out. That has been my experience the few times I have done it. Mills is grand, beautiful, and sturdy. Everything you want to put the snowshoes on for.
I did Fern Lake a few years ago. My friends and I drove through the night, so it was a bit ambitious. This trail is around 12 miles there and back. You can make it a loop to see Cub Lake and Fern Falls. Fern Lake was a pleasant surprise. This area of the park provides some variety from the Bear Lake area. A lot of the hike is along a river. The Cub lakeside is lovely and high. Once up at Fern Lake, your breath is taken away by the peaks behind the pines. You may not need snowshoes for the first half of the trail, but that starts to change pretty quickly as you get higher. It is fun, just be ready.
On November 8th-11th I will be heading out to Western Colorado. Not sure if there will be much snow. Either way, looking forward to getting up into the mountains. Since Yellowstone, I have had some fun nights camping in the Midwest, but ready for the hills. We will be knocking out some new podcasts this weekend that I know you will love. Stay tuned for all the winter adventures.