Excited to venture into Rocky Mountain National Park for the first time on snowshoes, we try not to let the weather forecast for cold, snow, and wind get us down. The low avalanche danger is reason enough for optimism. Ann and I meet Sean, cousin Doug, and his friend Bill on a blustery morning for our excursion.
Sure enough, Bear Lake trailhead is getting some heavy snow. It doesn’t feel too cold, though, and we set out in good spirits. Trails are not really marked, so we follow one of a few meandering snowshoe tracks to Nymph Lake, then up to Dream Lake. We get our first real taste of a ripping wind there, and those who have them dig out the goggles and neck gaiters. The trees are far more hospitable, but the wind buffets Emerald Lake as well. Doug, Sean, and I run (or something like it – snowshoes give one a clown- or flipper-like gait) on to the lake anyway, while Ann catches a chill while trying to find a sheltered spot to put on more warm gear. It’s not long before we all retreat back into the trees for lunch.
There’s a debate about whether to try a loop back to the trailhead or not. Ann is concerned that one of her hands is too chilled, but after borrowing some heavier gloves from me agrees to give the extension to Lake Haiyaha a try. From Dream Lake we climb a steep ridge. Not far beyond it we encounter an avalanche safety class digging a snow pit. They made the track we followed, and it ends there. After a bit of futile searching for any sign of Haiyaha, we turn back, thanking the class for their trailbreaking.
Once again we pass people in jeans and no snowshoes on the way back, but this time they are within a quarter mile of the trailhead, so we let them be. It’s probably unavoidable in a national park.
We all finish the outing with smiles, cute enough to make Doug gag when Ann and I make him take our picture.