From the ruins of the Illinois Mine, off the 730 Trail...
I woke to snow and mist with a bit of a growl. Making my morning tea and prepping nine bean soup for the slow cooker I wondered where I might go for the day. Part of me questioned even leaving the house. There was a small part of me that considered vegging in front of the 'puter, streaming documentaries.
That notion was quickly dismissed. I know me. Even when it's been sub-zero out, I get cabin fever, stepping out for at least an hour. A saying I came across recently that's become a mantra to me;
"There's no such thing as bad weather, only the wrong clothing."
Amen and/or a woman to that...
Some trails I'd thought of trekking were either Dry Gulch or Grizzly Gulch. The weather got me to reconsider. Certainly, I had boots, gaiters, and layers. It was the accessibility of trail heads in the snow. Whilst at the House of Owls and Bats, the snow was only sticking to the grass, both trails were further up-valley. At ten-five and eleven-five respectively, the snow accumulation might be quiet different.
Besides, Dry Gulch is right by Loveland Pass, and the last time I was up that way I had an interesting encounter with a snowboarder. It occurred to me it might be a better idea to hold off until it was at least proper snowshoeing weather. Or at least when it wasn't so mist-shrouded so high up that myself and any other potential wanderer have a better chance of seeing one another.
After a breakfast of leftover jambalaya, I got my pack together. One of the many grand things about where I live is I'm in walking distance of five trailheads, not mention the warren of paths following the narrow-gage tracks down the valley. I'd not really gone on those trails much lately, opting to explore newer ones.
With Whistler in tow, I struck out up the 730. Because of my mother's death and my father's move to the greater metroplex, Whistler has some amount of separation anxiety, a recent manifestation of which included him running down the Road looking for me and a good samaritan getting him back home.
Now, he's going to be fifteen in January. About a year ago, I learned the hard way he cannot climb about with me or go on the longer walkabouts. Be that as it may, he can still go on the shorter wanders. The whole time, I kept checking on him.
"You okay, lo jen?" I'd ask him, and he'd chomp his approval at being able to hike with me. "You're doing great! I'm proud of you."
Going from ninety-one sixty up we became vividly aware of the difference altitude can make. The snow started to stick to the trail itself around Cherokee Gulch-between nine-eight to ten-thousand feet-and the low-hanging clouds obscured the high peaks. There are those who might lament the perceived loss of views, but, and I often tell travelers this; in the mountains of Colorado, you don't get a bad view.
It was a different perspective, being within the belly of the clouds. The softly falling snowflakes against the last vanguard of of golden aspen was striking. Below, I could see town shrouded in a phantasmal gauze like a child's play set seen through the haze of a half-remembered dream. There was the occasional grumble of traffic along the Road, but the image of such was often obscured by drifting curtains of gray.
We didn't go all the way to the end of the trail, but to a point just before it narrows. This was twofold; the narrower parts are single file-at best-across scree, and Whistler's equilibrium is not as it used to be and the thought of ice. Also, we'd not visited a particular set of ruins in almost two years, which required a side jaunt up an overgrown side trail.
It was within this ruin we had water and snacks. Whistler chomped his approval at going on walkabout and I heaped praise on him for how well he was doing. I have little doubt he'd have walked with me to the end of the trail and beyond if I kept going. There was a look he gave me, and perhaps I antropomorphize, but it seemed to say;
"The day I don't want to walk with you, dig a hole..."
Two intrepid travelers taking a break on the trail...