Saturday, April 9, 2011

Snowshoe Heaven

When I called the Barrier Lake Information Center to chat with the specialist about our Saturday plan, he said I made the hair on the back of his neck stand up!  Well, I felt that feeling a few times today on our Cox Hill Loop snowshoe adventure.  This was a day where staying alert and aware, constant evaluations and regular assessing and reassessing played a major roll and by doing that, we enjoyed an amazing day all the while being safe.

We are into April and I'm ready to send off my snowshoes to snowshoe heaven or maybe in the other direction.  There was an incredible amount of snow today and thankfully it was a decent snow type to contend with.  I would love for today to be my last snowshoe of the season because we could say goodbye on good terms with wonderful memories.   It is scenes like this today that make for these memories, in fact, the beauty made the hair on the back of my neck stand up.  See, that feeling doesn't always have to be a bad thing! This looks heavenly to me!
For the initial few kilometers we were in the trees with nothing to see but trees and more trees plus snow and more snow.  I've been here before so knew it's worth it to put up with the trees because once you come out the other side of the forest, there's nothing but wide open spaces.
Once on the summit of Cox Hill, we found a sunny spot with scenery to have a late lunch.  It took longer then expected to reach this spot due to the tremendous amount of snow.  Already we are reassessing our original plan.  (Note:  check the google map below for actual vs planned.)   Another reason for reassessing was due to whumphing we felt and heard.  As I dropped, I felt the hair on the back of my neck stand up!
We followed the ridge and carried on to the end of Cox Hill where the decision was finally made that our original plan was just too lofty for this day.  We spend quite some time here taking fun group photos and scenery shots.  There is a sign of spring with some vegetation peeking through.
If you look closely at the highest peak you will see the Moose Mountain Lookout.
Yes, it can be windy up here, the snow formations are a tell-tale sign.  Lucky for us today, it was very calm.  
The newly reassessed plan was to back track to our lunch spot then begin our descent and assess as we went along for the safest route.  This new route afforded us more ridge time with gorgeous westward views.  The safest route turned out being descending through a not so steep, not so dense forest.  Although at one point, we wondered how safe was this, when we stumbled upon what looked like a bear den.  I felt the hair on the back of my neck stand up when I learned of this possibility!  After inspecting from a safe distance it was determined not to be, we then carried on our merrily way.
We finally worked our way out onto the Powderface Trail with only a couple of kilometers left after that to hike back to the trail head.  Usually it's once you are back at the vehicles that its time to feel victorious and celebrate but it came earlier this time and happened when our feet landed on Powderface Trail.  I still did have that victorious feeling when we reached the summit of Cox Hill a few hours previous!  This was my physical high point of the day!
The Powderface Trail is closed for the winter months.  Vehicles of some sort had been down there and cleared the way, so this portion was a hike instead of a snowshoe! Today's hard work was done, this portion was a stroll in the park.  In my mind, I envisioned my snowshoes on their way to snowshoe heaven while they were now securely fastened to the back of my pack as we were heading home!
I'm ready for hiking season now and enjoying time spent on sunny warm summits!

1 comment:

  1. What at amazing way to end the snowshoe season! Your pictures are gorgeous, Andra! I just went on a snowshoe backpacking trip 2 weekends ago in the Sierra Nevada mountains (near June Lake) and it was so wonderful to experience that before the start of hiking season. Happy trails!

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