The Rocky Mountains were warmer today than Southern California was last Thursday when I hiked Icehouse Canyon in the Mt. Baldy area. Of course, I was dressed with all my winter clothes today, which I didn’t have room to take on the flight to California. Only my nose was cold today.
The weather was glorious. Bright sun reflected on the snow made it even brighter. The temperature reached a high of 42 degrees today at Ward, the town about 1,000 feet below where I went today, Brainard Lake at 10,300 feet. The sky was clear all day.
I have been waiting all year for a day like this. While I had tried out my snowshoes after snowstorms in Boulder, this was my first decent hike with them.
The Indian Peaks Wilderness area has been calling me back. I hadn’t been there since October 5 when Kevin Moloney and I hiked in the dark from Brainard Lake to get to Lake Isabelle by first light for the photo shoot of me for the “Meet the Face of Change” exhibit which documents “the lives of a diverse group of people with type 2 diabetes who are making the changes they need to better manage their condition.”
That was the last day that the road to Brainard Lake was open. For the winter, the gate is locked several miles down the road. I had remembered it as three miles down, but the gate is only 2 1/4 miles from the lake.
So today’s roundtrip distance of 4 1/2 miles was easier than I had anticipated. It took exactly four hours, including frequent stops to adjust the straps on my snowshoes, the hand straps on my trekking poles (which I now use only for snowshoeing), talking to people I met, lunch at the lake (an energy bar that I got from Barry when he cooked dinner for me at his house last night), and, of course, photographs.
Except right at the lake, the weather was pretty still. But the lake, being open, was windy. When I stopped to take this photograph, I was in deep snow and had dropped my trekking poles to use the camera. The wind knocked me over, and it is surprisingly difficult to get off the ground when you are wearing snowshoes!
About half of the people going to Brainard Lake today wore snowshoes and the other half cross-country skies. I stopped to talk with one gentlemen sking up the trail with me.
“You should be using skis rather than snowshoes,” he said.
Just to see what he would say, I replied, “I’m too old.”
“How old are you?” he inquired.
“I’m 73, and I’m not too old,” he declared.
In fact, I am thinking about starting to cross-country ski. Karen is encouraging me, since it’s her favorite winter sport. She invited me to go with her brother, her brother’s wife, and herself to the Angel Fire ski area (www.angelfirechamber.org) in the Sangre de Cristo mountains of northern New Mexico four weeks from now.
That invitation and our reconciliation this week gave me a tremendous mood boost. The glorious weather in the mountains that I love, the views, my good health and vigorous exercise just reinforced my extra-positive mood.
Do I look happy here?
Then I returned to Boulder feeling so well that I went shopping. For the first time in years, I bought a belt to replace the suspenders that I invariably wore. I started wearing them about 20 years ago when I didn’t have a waist.
One more thing (as Steve Jobs says at the end of his presentations). I also bought a bicycle today, something I also haven’t had for about 20 years (since my last one was stolen). Last night Barry recommended University Bikes, so that’s where I went.
I bought a hybrid (for both mountain and city biking). Barry had recommended both front and rear shocks for comfort, but hybrids only come with front shocks (or rear, I forget). I got a better seat for my weak butt, a helmut, a lock, lights, and other accessories — all for less than $900.
The model is Crosstrail from Specialized Bicyles (www.specialized.com/bc/SBCBkModel.jsp?arc=2007&sid=07Crosstrail ). In 1955 the bike that I rode more than 1,000 miles from Wuerzburg, Germany, to Amsterdam, The Netherlands, had three speeds. My new bike has 24.