Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Snowshoe Adventure, Feb 15

I'm proud to say I've got a few epic adventures in my book to look back on when I'm stuck in a rocking chair... Well, add another one to that pile!

Last weekend Karla and I decided to see if we could snowshoe from Breckenridge to Frisco. Crazy eh? Yeah probably. 10 miles, 9500 foot elevation, we didn't get an early enough start, perfect weather, no people, finished after dark and it was totally freakin AWESOME. I will remember the day for a long, long time.

The plan was to drive up to Breckenridge, snag the gondola up to the ski area and walk over to the start of the trail. Which was over there somewhere, lol. It's called the Peaks Trail, a popular mountain bike route in the summer. I read it was well marked and flat-ish (no trail in the mountains is flat!) so I wasn't worried about getting lost. Had our topo GPS just in case, SPOT too. Anyways, hike the trail to Frisco and grab the free bus back to Breckenridge.

Super warm day, temperatures at or above freezing even in the mountains. Windy as heck, but I knew it wouldn't be as bad up there plus the trail was almost all in the trees. 50% chance of snow. Mountains had feet upon feet of new stuff, so I made sure the Peaks Trail was rated "low avalanche danger" before we left.

Out of the tunnel looking down towards Frisco:

Evidently the town of Breckenridge moved the free parking to over a mile away from the gondola, so we begrudgingly shelled out $12 to park. At least the gondola was free. Up to Peak 7. It was President's Weekend and holy COW there were skiers and snowboarders everywhere. You almost couldn't breathe it was so crowded. Families with kids bored standing in line for the lifts, teenagers with wacky outfits and huge headphones, hoards of young women in tight pants with no skis/snowboards... Heard folks saying they were closing lifts due to high winds. Suckers. Glad we aren't the typical Coloradans, we don't ski or board!

Found the trail head. Those little blue diamonds would be our guides.

Breckenridge is fancy... Right next to the trail head were condos. Or a hotel. Or something.

Windy day. See the snow blowing off the peaks?

Ready? Sure! Lets go. (Goggles were the name of the game today, until they fogged about half way through cause it was so warm and we were working)

Nicely packed, narrow trail was well marked and easy to follow.

WARM!! No joke, easily in the upper 20s. Little breezes here and there with snow falling. Very few others on the trail. Fantastic.

 Karla got to try out the vents on her pants, ran on the inside from half way down her thigh to half way down her calf. "Venting!" she says.

Lots of snow and heavily wooded, makes a panorama shot a bit odd looking

 See? LOTS of snow up here.

We didn't hit the trail til 11:30 so lunch came quickly.

Weather was so nice we could occasionally spot (and often hear) squirrels and small birds

Crossed quite a few little creeks the first few miles.

Yeah it's snowing and a little windy if you hit a big clearing but still very warm!

Hehe, what does this tree remind you of??

If you thought this, you're on the same track as us!! We got a huge laugh.

Follow those blue diamonds! Really only one trail folks had been breaking anyway though.

I know. You're jealous of my hair.

Not long after this my goggles started fogging so I had to ditch them. Karla's followed not long after. Oh well.

 These were especially good exercise!

Time for a rest.


This one is way funnier though, LOL!!

Warm snow sticks to things

Trail went down to a single cross country skier, so got tougher! Diamonds farther apart, but often all you had to do was look back the way you came and there was one facing the other way:

Skier track only. Snowshoes are a LOT wider and I'm definitely heavier than whoever had been skiing.

Compare to what the trail looks like after we've been on it

Who doesn't love home made rice krispie treats?

Hey look check out this awesome sign! Perfect spot to pull out the tripod. We knew the hike was taking a lot longer then we figured, but in the past we've been angry later that we didn't take pictures of ourselves. Now imagine me finally getting the tripod set up (skinny legs meant I'd push it down in the snow and it'd sink 2 feet!), getting the 10 second timer set and running over to get behind the sign. Had to keep the snowshoes on or I'd sink past my knees. Haha, here's the first shot.... Camera snapped just as I wrenched my right foot out of a massive sinkhole I caused!! Another few inches down and the camera would've captured me face down in the snow! LOL!!

Some adjustments... There we go!

Came out along the edge of private property, our first and only big meadow. Gives you an idea of the weather outside of the trees! Down the hill and to the right we could see highway 9 which runs from Breckenridge to Frisco. Easy out if we needed it, but onward!

Lol. Not sure that gate is much of a deterrent...

Across the meadow we go. See the tippy tops of the fence posts on the far right??

"Whoa. Check out my pole!"

Looking back

Back in the trees, if little ones

We had broke trail across that meadow and kinda bushwacked through the short pine trees... Blue diamond.... Blue diamond... Come on blue diamond! Karla got so excited when she spotted one facing the other direction she forgot she had snowshoes on and: (roflmao)

Looking back

Balls. We thought we were loads farther along than this. Clearly we are very slow compared to others who wrote reports of the trail on the internet. We did know we would continue mostly downhill from here. And we really wanted to say we'd snowshoed from Breckenridge to Frisco. And we had a GPS, plenty of supplies, the SPOT and the weather was great.... Mush! To Frisco!

Snow calmed and about stopped, clouds lifted showing off some great views

Still no other snowshoe tracks. Whew. Hard work! At some point Karla took the backpack, thanks honey.

Night fell and I thought it was beautiful. Karla was a little spooked but decided to have a good time anyway. Although at one point she took a big step and one of the water bottles sloshed in the outside pocket. She heard it and about went into karate attack panic mode!! LOL!!

No need for artificial light, enough natural light as our eyes adjusted to safely make our way. Last hour spent walking in the dark, I had a blast. If you've never showshoed at night (I have before), you really must do it! Most of that was spent with the lights of Frisco in sight, no need to flip out about our safety here mothers. ;-)

You can see we were definitely breaking trail now. Easy to get down, follow the lights and the gully and Miner's Creek. No GPS needed. Last picture!

We rolled into civilization at 7:30pm, 8 hours after we started! Haha, goes to show you how slow we are. But hey, the pictures are worth it right? I quickly posted on Facebook that we were back and for no one to panic as the trail had spit us out at the hospital!! I could just picture my (or Karla's) family freaking out trying to call us when they looked at the SPOT location. Waited here about 20 minutes for the bus back to Breckenridge. Here's the SPOT track starting at the base of the gondola to where we finished in Frisco:

We had a great time and it was actually quite energizing. Karla even went out with some of her girlfriends when we got back! I sent along some of my cash to pay penance for making her an hour late... Sorry ladies!! Needless to say we slept in on Sunday and didn't do a damn thing besides go to a movie and look at puppies. Aaaand take a nap... LOL!

Hope you enjoyed!!