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Started: 2006-02-27 21:31:32

Submitted: 2006-02-27 22:27:01

Visibility: World-readable

My employer was kind enough to give me President's Day off. Normally, Kiesa works on Sunday (when she can get full access to play with the library catalog without patrons expecting it to work), and takes Monday off, but her employer wanted her to come in for all-district meetings. This meant she actually got to take Sunday off.

REI held a massive sale starting 10 February. My brilliant idea was to get snow shoes for Kiesa and I to get some winter exercise and snow-based entertainment, but by the time I got to the store the snow shoe selection was picked clean. At the back of the store I found boots on deep discount. I ended up paying something like 25% of list price for waterproof, insulated winter hiking boots.

That night (12 February), I went to eBay and shopped for snow shoes. I hoped I might be able to get them for President's Day, but I couldn't quite pull that off. I picked Kiesa's snow shoes up at my local post office (which involved figuring out where exactly my local post office was) last Wednesday. I was afraid my snow shoes wouldn't make it in time; the tracking number I had showed my package stuck at UPS' distribution center in Louisville, Kentucky for three days before my package showed up on my doorstep last Friday... with a different tracking number.

On Saturday evening before President's Day, General Zan Lynx (USSM) visited to play Illuminati, an amusing table game in which the players attempt to control vast conspiracies of powerful (and powerless) organizations from across the American political spectrum. Where else is Hollywood's control over the Democrats so obvious? (I'm afraid Kiesa isn't nearly as amused by the game as I am. I'll be bringing it to the next Megafest, though, so my loyal readers will have a chance to play. Given the political machinations we put into Settlers of Catan, we should be able to push Illuminati to its limits.)

On Sunday (19 February), Kiesa and I drove up to Button Rock preserve for a hike up the North St. Vrain River. I put my new boots to good use; it snowed two days prior and hadn't yet gotten above freezing. The water pouring out of the base of the dam had frozen in a massive wall, in some cases entirely encasing the powerful stream of water shooting into the river. The trees for fifty meters down the river were covered in more snow than their counterparts; the river was making snow.

On President's Day itself, while Kiesa worked, I hiked up Mount Sanitas overlooking the city of Boulder. It was slick, but my sexy new boots had excellent tread. Except for one point on the east ridge; I slipped coming down from the summit and lacerated my right hand. (While in Boulder, I picked up Cascading Style Sheets: The Definitive Guide, Second Edition, and a breathable polyester undershirt.)

Last Saturday (25 February) I finally got the opportunity to use my new snow shoes. Late in the week, Kiesa discovered she had to run slides in church, thwarting our plans to ditch church entirely. To maximize daylight, we drove into Boulder together and I hung out at the library (adding content to the Megafest wiki, which I've already linked to in this changelog). After church, we attempted to hook up with some friends whom I'll refer to as M and J. (And their baby C.) We parked overlooking Eben G. Fine park, at the mouth of Boulder Canyon, and ate lunch. We joined forces to drive up Boulder Canyon, through Nederland, to the tiny town of Eldora. In the summer, one can continue driving to Hessie and Fourth of July trailheads, but in the winter the road is only plowed through the town. We parked and headed up the mountain. At least, some of us did; C didn't do so well with the cold, so J stayed with him, and Kiesa stayed with them, leaving only M and I to snowshoe up the road, through the summer trailhead, to our target: Lost Lake. Stated distance was 2.5 miles from our parking. M and I traded horror stories from business travel. Most of the road was packed snow; it would have been fine in boots. After the Hessie turn-off, some of the road was bare (although I could see snowshoe tracks in the frozen mud) and some of the road was icy, which made me very glad for my snowshoe's crampons. The trail itself was likewise packed snow; I didn't need much flotation, but the enhanced grip was handy. We reached the lake at 1635. My camera's batteries thwarted my attempts to photographically document the lake.

Instead of taking the trail back, we decided to cut back the direct way, off-trail. I consulted my topo for the best course to follow, skirting around a knoll the official trail went the long way around. We walked to the far side of the lake, and I continued to be amazed by the traction my snow shoes gave me on the ice. On the south-east side of the lake, we dropped across a saddle and into deep snow on the protected north-west-facing slope. I saw telemark tracks in the wide slope. I finally got to put my flotation to good use; it was much better than post-holing in the snow.

Snowshoeing up to the lake, on the packed trail, was about like hiking in snow, but breaking trail (especially downhill) on the way back was entirely different, and quite enjoyable. I'll have to do it again.