A windy day in RMNP


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Sep 4, 2003
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Now that the timed entry system is no longer in effect in RMNP, it is easier to go hiking there, but...you still have to get there early to secure a parking spot, especially along the so-called Bear Lake Corridor. The forecast was good for Friday, sunny and clear, but windy. Really windy. I decided to revisit a great destination that I had not been back to in years...Loch Vale, and maybe Timberline Falls. It's a very popular spot due to the spectacular scenery for a modest effort. However, parking can be a problem so I planned on getting there early. I arrived just after 8 and the lot was maybe 15% full. In the summer they run a shuttle from a large parking area to the trailheads. The lot can accommodate probably 60 or so cars.

It took me about 2hr 15 minutes to reach the trailhead, deep into the Park. That's about the same time it took me to get to Franconia Notch trails, and the mileage is just a little bit more. The last few miles on the Bear Lake Road was a little dicey as there was a coating of snow and ice on the roadway and it had not been treated. They don't spread salt out here. Anyway, it was a little hairy (the road is steep and winding) but that's why I drive an All Weather Attack Subaru with snow tires. :)

At the trailhead temps were high 30s and the wind was blowing a gale with temps in the low 30s. Windiest trailhead I have ever been at. It was microspikes from the car to the trail and they stayed on the entire day. There are many divergent trails that branch off from the Glacier Gorge Trail, and my destination was The Loch, one of a number of lakes fed by a glacier above. There is also Glass Lake and Sky Pond, but those require climbing up next to Timberline Falls, a dicey proposition in winter.

The wind had been blowing hard along the trail, but it was insane at the Loch. Blowing snow and high winds. I decided to turn around and visit another lake...Mills Lake. Still windy, but tolerable as a spot to rest and have a snack. The temps never got out of the 40s, but with the sun, was pretty comfortable. Snow depths varied from maybe an inch of snow/ice to about 4-5 inches higher up. No one was wearing or carrying snowshoes.

Upon arrival back at the parking lot, there was maybe room for a few more cars.


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