Sunday, January 18, 2009

The First Snow Shoe Hike of the Season

Saturday saw Zack and I in the mountains. It was our first trip to our "Mountain House" since Zack's fall break back in October. We really need the time alone here in the mountains as Zack has been dealing a lot with "anxiety issues". I thought the time alone here in the mountains would do us some good. We even decided to leave the dogs at home since Bailey would be able to do much with us in the deep snow. With Bailey's back legs still weak from breaking his back last spring, he would have had a very tough time negotiating the very deep snow pack that we have in the mountains this year.
We both took our time getting up on Saturday. We headed out for our hike/snow shoe around 10:45AM. Our destination was Ute Pass. This pass is located in the Williams Fork Range about 10 miles north of Silverthorne. To reach Ute Pass you just travel north on Highway 9 out of Silverthorne until you reach the appropriately named "Ute Pass Road". From there it is about 5 miles straight up until you actually reach Ute Pass and the trail head for our hike.
I have spent time in and around Ute Pass for the last decade. During my first trip up to the top of this pass, I was driving and nearly had an accident. Why did I nearly have an accident - there was dead cow in the middle of the road! I was drive my small little Chevy Nova at the time and had I hit Mr. Dead Cow, I would have done some very serious damage to my car.
This hike was to be Zack's first serious hike in his new snow shoes. He received his snow shoes as a Christmas present from Santa Claus. It took us a few minutes to get his snow shoes on as I had to help him do a lot of adjustments to the straps so they would fit just right. Once we were all ready to go with our cold weather gear on and snow shoes, we headed up the mountain into the back country.
I chose this hike because I didn't feel that we would have to deal with any avalanche danger. Despite that fact the hiking was very hard as the terrain was pretty steep. Within a 1/4 of a mile Zack had already informed me that his feet were cold but he was sweating so much. I got to admit, I totally understood was he was saying as it was difficult hiking. For those of you who haven't snow shoed before - thinking of walking up a very steep slope where the snow is about 4 feet deep with what are essentially big boards attached to your feet. It is kind of hard.
I did expect to go the whole way up the trail to the top of the William Fork ridge line, but I did have a goal in mind that I wanted to reach. There is an open meadow about 6/10 of mile up the trail. I at least wanted to reach that.
We only saw one other group of "hikers" on the hike. The had 2 dogs with them, so of course Zack had to stop and pet the dogs. That is something that happens every hike that we go on - Zack has to pet every dog that he sees.
After our meeting with the dogs, Zack showed new determination to make it to the meadow. We got down to some serious hiking and fought our up the mountain through the snow. The view once we arrived at the meadow was so worth it. We had a fantastic view across the Blue River Valley to the Gore Range. See the pictures below to get an idea of what it looked like.
For whatever reason the acoustics of the meadow were so unique. Every word we said echoed back to us with absolutely clarity. Zack and I had a lot of fun playing with the echos. I don't think I have ever heard such a strong echo before!
The trip back down the mountain was very quick! Going down hill on snow shoes is kind of like going down a hill on skis! We moved very quickly and were back at the car in about 20 minutes. Kind of amazing given how much time it took us to reach the meadow!
We had one other adventure this weekend. For dinner on Saturday night we went to the Mint - which is a steakhouse restaurant in Silverthorne. The unique thing about this restaurant is that you cook your own steak on a very large grill that is in the middle of the restaurant. Zack didn't want a steak so I let him cook mine. Needless to say he had a lot of fun. It was fun way to have dinner!
We hope everyone has had a great weekend. If you have Monday off we hope you enjoy the extra day of your weekend!

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