Friday, January 29, 2010

Snowshoeing on the Bristlecone Trail - 1/28/10

Seven participants (see above minus Kathy who took the pic) showed up at the Santa Fe for the Bristlecone Loop Trail snowshoe hike. They piled into two cars for the trip up Lee Canyon Road which was open all the way to the ski resort. The lower end of the Bristlecone Trail was inaccessible, therefore, the two cars traveled on up to the upper end trailhead where they had their choice of parking around 9am.

Milo, the event coordinator and photographer extraordinaire, reported promptly about the hike and had the following to say. "After 'futzing' with the fasteners of our 'mitten-friendly' snowshoes, putting on our gaiters if we had them, duct-taping the bottoms of our pants to the tops of our shoes (Carol), or wrapping our shoes in plastic grocery-bag gaiters, and feeling glad that we weren't attempting to perform all of these operations in 4 feet of new powder snow we soon were on our way" with Bud as our intrepid leader. Bud is seen in the photo to the left. (It sounds like the preparation was a lot of the fun!)

Milo continues, "We could not have asked for a better weather day. There was absolutely no wind at all -- contrary to predicted weather reports -- and the temperature felt like it was in the mid-thirties. The sky was a clear deep blue (through my sunglasses) and the Pine trees were flocked with clumps of snow where they were deposited by yesterday's snowfall, undisturbed by the windless morning. It was a Winter Wonderland, awesome and indescribable."

To the left, Carol proudly displays her duct tape gaiters. Total cost ~ 5 cents. The duct tape was still firmly attached at the end of the hike! As Milo goes on to say, "On the early part of the trail, there appeared to be a snowbase of around 4 feet of packed snow and 4-5 inches of new powder from yesterday's snowfall. The top rails of the restraining fence built to keep casual summer hikers from trampling some of the rare plant life found only in the Spring Mountains were sometimes just covered, or just barely visible poking out of the top of the snow. Yesterday's snowfall put a fresh blanket of snow over everything. The only visible tracks were those made by a cross-country skier earlier in the day. The only people we saw on the trail were a few less than a dozen kamikaze snowboarders schussing their way down the trail.

After following the Bristlecone Loop trail for a few hundred yards we veered off onto a drainage to the right and began to gain some significant altitude. After we had gained sufficient altitude we veered away from the drainage and zig-zagged our way to the top of a local peak where we were treated a great view of the valley areas below including a long stretch of the lower-end of the Bristlecone Loop trail.

After we had spent 10-15 minutes or so at the top enjoying the views and eating our snacks, a couple of young guys without snowshoes or skis, who had apparently been following the trail we broke, came post-holing their way to the top. On our way down, encountering all of the post-holes they'd left we understood why it had taken them about the same amount of time to make their ascent as it had taken us. We found it was easier -- and safer -- to break a new trail to the side of the one we'd made on the way up. The wind, which had been still all morning, had picked up to a just discernible level, was beginning to shake some snow loose from the trees. After we had merged back onto the trail we encountered more snowboarders, at least one of which seemed to have a goal of seeing how close he could come to the snowshoers without colliding with one of us."

"Thanks to everyone who made this hike possible -- especially Bud and Larry -- Larry for his work in hooking us up to sources of information we needed and also for scouting out the trail for us in advance for a hike he was unable to participate in -- and Bud whose snowshoeing experience and real-time decision-making made as our de facto "hike leader" as opposed to "hike coordinator" made this outdoor experience so much better for all of us than it would have been without his being there."

And, thank you, Milo, for bringing this all together in such an organized fashion. We can all agree that the snowshoe event of 2010 was a success from all perspectives!

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