“Where is the best snowshoeing in the park today,” I asked the ranger at the entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park this morning.
“The Bear Lake corridor,” she replied. “The trail to Emerald Lake or the one to Bierstadt Lake. There’s a volunteer at Bear Lake you can ask.”
When I got there, I did.
“If you think that it’s windy here, you ought to go to Emerald Lake,” he told me. “The trail to Bierstadt Lake is less windy because of the trees.”
That made it an easy call. To Bierstadt it was.
Except for the wind, the weather was perfect today. The temperature climbed to 74 degrees in Boulder, possibly a record for the day. Even at Estes Park, the closest town to the Rockies, 2,000 feet higher than Boulder but 2,000 feet lower than where I snowshoed today, it reached 68 degrees.
While it was overcast when I left Boulder this morning, we had brilliant sun all day in the mountains. The ranger was right that the trees acted as a windbreak. While you sacrifice the view in the forest, I was glad to be buffeted by only moderate wind today.
At the Bear Lake trailhead, about 9,500 feet, it seems like half of Boulder was on the move. The overwhelming majority were on snowshoes, because the trails here are too steep for pleasant cross-country skiing.
Most of my fellow Boulderites must have gone around Bear Lake or took the windy trail to Nymph Lake, Dream Lake, and Emerald Lake. Karen and I hiked there at Thanksgiving, just before the heavy snows started. If you look closely, you can see maybe a dozen people on Bear Lake’s ice today (with Hallett Peak in the center):