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Winter recreation

Started: 2008-01-28 21:58:36

Submitted: 2008-01-28 22:55:59

Visibility: World-readable

These days, snowshoeing is my preferred winter recreation activity. My mother tried to teach me to enjoy cross country skiing when I was younger, but it didn't stick. I preferred downhill skiing; the idea of skiing uphill really wasn't that exciting. (It didn't help that my first several cross country skiing experiences were mostly uphill; I spent the uphill segment trying not to slide backwards and the downhill return segment trying to maintain control without the edges and attached heel I was used to on downhill skis.) As an adult, I finally got around to trying snowshoes, which let me climb up and down hills. I never looked back. (Until now, but I'm still not giving up snowshoeing.)

I snowshoed twice in December. My first excursion was from the Brainard Lake winter trailhead to Left Hand Reservoir on 8 December. While putting my snowshoes on at the trailhead, I took my gloves off to get more control and got a bit of snow on my left hand. I shook my hand off and my wedding ring flew off my finger. This doesn't normally happen; I blame the cold and the snow. I searched the ground and the nearby snowbank but couldn't find it. I finally gave up and headed up the snowed-in road. There was some new snow and snow continued to fall. When I reached the reservoir at the end of the road, I set out along the deep snow on the south shore in the shadow of Niwot Mountain but turned around after a few hundred meters when I decided I didn't really want to break trail through snow quite that deep.

(For reasons that aren't apparent, my GPS receiver decided to go crazy on the way back to the car; my track log shows my position jumping around.)

Back at the trailhead, I spotted a note attached to the map and information display informing me that my ring had been found. I took the note, headed back to my car, properly identified the inscription on the inside of the ring to the owner of a black Saab parked immediately behind me. (He drove up just after me and was leaving just as I left, which worked out rather well.) My first ring-loss experience ended well.

My second snowshoe excursion in December was my first successful snowshoe ascent of Twin Sisters on the eastern edge of Rocky Mountain National Park. I've climbed the peak in summer and spring; on my last ascent, my GPS receiver met its untimely demise on my drive home. I tried snowshoeing Twin Sisters twice last year but turned around short of the summit on both occasions. On 16 December, I finally achieved a successful summit. The snow was tracked as far as the first good view of Longs Peak across Tahosa Valley; afterwards, I had to break my own trail, though there wasn't much new snow and the trail had been packed before. I let my GPS receiver tell me where the trail was based on the waypoints I gave it for each turn, which was occasionally useful as the trail climbed through 11,000 feet and the trees started to thin. When I reached timberline, the wind had blown most of the snow away. I left my snowshoes by the trail and climbed the last 400 vertical feet on foot. I post-holed only once on my way to the top.

My GPS receiver survived the return trip, safely stored inside my vehicle.