At the meeting of my diabetes support group yesterday evening Jeff asked me if my goal was still to hike every trail in Boulder County.
I laughed and replied, “Yes, maybe even more so. Now I’m even hiking trails that aren’t completed.” That referred to hiking the unfinished Goshawk Ridge Trail last week.
So, perhaps being contrary, today I went back to the trail that I have hiked the most. And it’s not even in Boulder County.
The Emerald Lake Trail is the northern part of Rocky Mountain National Park that’s in Larimer County. It’s about an hour’s drive from here.
While I knew that the trail would have too much snow for hiking, I wasn’t sure if it would have enough for snowshoes. So before leaving home I called the park headquarters. A ranger told me that the snow base on the whole trail was about three feet.
That was enough for me! All the more so because today was unbelievably warm for the Rockies. In Boulder the temperature reached 68 degrees.
But for every thousand feet of elevation gain you can count on the temperature being 3 degrees colder. When I reached Emerald Lake at about 10,200 feet, my pocket thermometer said the temperature was 30 degrees. That’s still warm for the mountains in winter, and it didn’t stop me from lunching on a couple of boiled chicken legs there.
We had bright sun and little wind all day. Other snowshoers were out in force on this Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, and many of us marveled at the wonderful weather.
What I love most about the Emerald Lake Trail is that in four miles (out and back) you hike along four lakes. On snowshoes is even better, because you don’t hike along them. You snowshoe across them.
It was great fun and easier to snowshoe right across Nymph and Dream lakes. In this photo I stopped just after crossing Nymph Lake where a fellow from South Africa whom I met captured this happy guy:
But some young women I met just before Emerald Lake looked like they might be having even more fun:
The trail ends at Emerald Lake. Normally. But I couldn’t resist walking on it too. I took this photo while standing on the lake ice looking up at daredevils on the hillside beyond Emerald, which is otherwise inaccessible:
Here’s the view of a frozen Emerald looking the other way:
When I returned, I stopped at the same place where the South African took my photo. Here is Nymph Lake in the late afternoon.
The nymphs are buried under the ice:
When I set out this morning, I wasn’t sure that I could make it all the way to Emerald Lake, because of my operation just before Thanksgiving. This little expedition took me five hours, but it was a lot easier than I expected.
The previous time when I snowshoed here, in April 2008, the trail seemed much steeper. That time I only made it to Dream Lake.
Today I didn’t go anywhere that I hadn’t hiked before. But I did snowshoe farther.