Sometimes, you get a day, even in the midst of a pandemic, that leaves you wanting more. The kind of day that from start to finish isn’t perfect, but the sum of its parts is high above your average day.
We had one of those days last weekend.
The funny part is that we planned to ski in the afternoon which isn’t our normal, but people have been leaving early because they can’t warm up in the lodge because it’s still mostly closed. We had heard through the grapevine that if you go around 11:30 you can park in the front row and have an amazing half day of skiing with no lines. The exception for this new rule is holidays and we remembered too late that it was President’s Day weekend. At 7:45 am we realized our error and scrambled to get ready for skiing. We were able to get out the door in 25 minutes which is a record for us. Shortly after getting on the highway we were stuck in traffic which did not bode well for a parking spot. It slowed everyone down, but we still managed to arrive at the resort by 8:40.
It was too late.
The parking lot was full and your option was to turn around or park in the far off lot and be shuttled in. Guys, we have been skiing and loading our gear, our kids’ gear and all of our food for DECADES! We are now 50 and we no longer shuttle in. We have earned the right to park close enough to walk and if there are no spots it’s a no go. So, we turned around and decided to go snowshoeing instead.
While the rest of Colorado was under a deep freeze, the mountains were a balmy 25. This is perfect outdoor winter weather. We drove home, took out the skis, grabbed the snowshoes, poles and backpacks and drove to one of our favorite trailheads. Silver Dollar Lake Trail is off of Guanella Pass and in the summer offers some of the most spectacular views around. While we have done this trail dozens of times in the spring, summer and fall, this was the first time doing it in the winter. We had fresh tracks most of the way. There were some telltale signs of hikers from previous days which kept us on track, thankfully.
Being out there was amazing. There was no sun, no wind, it was lightly snowing and the quiet was almost eerie. We could not hear anything except our own breathing. We kept stopping to just listen to the nothingness. It’s so rare to be in a place with absolutely no sound. Even in your own home you can usually hear the distant bark of a dog or the constant hum of the furnace running. I could have stood in that fresh snow for hours listening to the silence and taking in the beauty around us.
Also, I could have stood there longer because going uphill in snowshoes at 11,235 feet is hard work. I was definitely breaking the silence with my breathing. In fact, about half way up I had to take a little break and eat a bar. I had not eaten breakfast because skiing on an empty stomach works for me, but not hiking. When we changed our plans, we didn’t take the time to eat. After about 10 minutes I was good to go and thankfully had the energy for what was to come.
Shortly after our little break, we discovered one of the outcropping of rocks and took some beautiful photos of the mountains and incoming storm.
At this point we still knew where we were. In fact, we saw another couple who had been following us and they turned around at that point wishing us well. It was at this point that I remember looking around though and feeling disoriented about where to go next. I could see the ridge, but the trail to get there was gone. All around us was 4-6 feet of snow. Andy tried following our Alltrails map to get us back on track, but it was difficult to line up in that much snow. We began blazing our own trail uphill thinking we would find something familiar. I had noticed that the trees were spray painted blue periodically on the trail to help keep you oriented, but when you can’t find the next one, you feel lost. Once uphill, I stood still while Andy continued to go further. We kept yelling at each other like a stupid game of Marco Polo. I kept saying, look for the blue trees and we need to turn back. He kept saying, I think I found it. Eventually, his stubborn nature gave way to my whining and he turned around to meet me. I had found the blue painted trees and was trying to follow them back to our trail. I could see it, but it was a long way down. He got in front to make a path which helped, but then I stepped slightly off his trail and sunk to mid thigh. I was instantly stuck. I started fighting it and trying to pull my legs out, but I literally could not move. I started to frantically try to dig myself out. Andy was only a few feet away, but I’m not going to lie, it is scary to be stuck in the snow unable to move at all. I was giving it everything I had to pull my leg out. I had dug down to my calf and I still couldn’t move. Andy had to literally grab the cuff of my pants and pull as hard as he could to get me unstuck, but I still couldn’t get any traction to get out of my predicament. He literally had to pick me up out of the hole. Carefully, we made our way back to the trail and our previous tracks. I took a deep breath, relieved to be back on solid footing.
We passed many hikers on our way back down the trail as they were heading up. We apologized for our wandering trail at the end. I am sure many of them were shaking their head and mumbling profanities under their breath when they reached our incoherent path. Perhaps some of them ventured even further than us.
On that particular day, our adventure only took us a little past the overlook, but it was far enough. The fresh snow, the quiet, the hard work, quite literally losing ourselves in the act of doing something we love together was perfect and I can’t wait to do it again.
Sunshine & Sarcasm,
Lowi & G