Saturday, December 12, 2009

Sandbeach Lake

Dan snowshoeing down the trailOur original plan for the weekend was to snowshoe out to the Guinn Mountain Hut and overnight there Saturday. When we checked the weather though, the low was predicted to be very low and the wind very windy.

We skipped the hut and instead did a 9 mile snowshoe in the Wild Basin area of Rocky Mountain National Park. We followed the Sandbeach Lake trail to ... take a guess ... Sandbeach Lake. On our way up the trail we ran into three guys returning to the trailhead. They said they broke trail to Hunter's Creek and turned back there. Breaking trail beyond that point would be fun.

We had a late start (10 AM at the trailhead) and we had made a few detours along the way. First, a big rock not too far off trail. Second detour: Hole-in-the-Wall Campground. A bit before 1 PM we were still on our way up and wondering if we would even reach the point where the other party had turned around. Very soon after we found the Creek. There was a split-log bridge going over the frozen creek. Just in case the creek wasn't frozen enough to cross, we took the bridge.

Needle rock formation
Sure enough, there was the end of the broken trail. Beyond that point was fresh snow for us. We stopped for a bite to eat before continuing on.

Not two minutes after we stopped, a train of 12 CMC snowshoers approaches across that fresh snow we were eying. So much for breaking trail! As the last of the group was passing we hear someone say, "Is that Laurel and Dan?" It was Adam from WTS! We only had a minute to chat before he had to continue with the group.

By then it was 1:30 and we weren't sure if we'd make it to the Lake. Or if we did make it to the lake, if we'd make it back to the car before dark. We decided to give it a shot and turn around at 2 PM.

Sandbeach Lake
Snow stuck to trees from strong winds blowing off the lakeThe trail from that point on was very steep. By 2 PM we were still climbing and were not yet at the lake. We took out the topo to try to figure out how much further it would be. The trail had just started to level out a bit. It didn't seem like there was much left to go so we continued. Sure enough, about 5 minutes later we were at the lake.

It's called Sandbeach Lake because there is a sand beach, and there is a lake. Honest. There was also ice and blowing snow. With nothing to block the wind we didn't want to stay long.

It only took us half as long to get back to Hunter's Creek, so we were feeling pretty good about getting back before dark. Sure enough, with no detours and most of the way downhill, we made the trip back in only two hours.

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