I missed that feeling of release in your chest that only comes (for me at least!) from standing alone in the middle of the wilderness, save for a hiking buddy or two.
And my dog was going stir-crazy.
In winters past, I’ve been guilty of letting the trails sit under a blanket of snow all season as I hit the slopes. I love skiing, don’t get me wrong, but that feeling of peace is missing as you stand in lift lines, swerve to avoid beginner skiers and slam moguls. It’s a different kind of mountain experience.
So, this year, armed with a new pair of snowshoes, I’ve set out to find that sense of peace that I get when hiking.
My favorite trails are covered in snow and, while that would have daunted me in the past, I’ve come to find that most of my favorite summer spots are even more beautiful under a blanket of white.
My sister and I, accompanied by our two dogs, started the season at Mayflower Gulch in Colorado’s beautiful Summit County. It’s a short, albeit steep, hike that ends in a beautiful valley surrounded by peaks. The valley is home to an old mining camp and makes for a pretty stunning stop no matter the season. We were shocked into silence when we peeked out of the trees and saw the valley and peaks, covered in a fresh blanket of snow.
In the summer, the trail continues up a ridgeline, but we were content at hitting the valley. Snowshoeing takes a lot more effort than hiking, so even short jaunts feel like an accomplishment!
Later in January, I taught a beginner snowshoe class for Mtn Chicks, a women’s hiking group, in Rocky Mountain National Park. A dozen of us set out up the snowy trail, walking across frozen lakes and through Antarctic strength winds to the beautiful Emerald Lake. In the shadow of Hallett Peak, the lake is spectacular no matter the time of year.
My fiancé and I had taken our engagement pictures at the same spot earlier in the fall and the difference was stunning. The spot seemed extreme and remote, it’s beauty wild and dangerous, though we were just two miles from the car. We pulled our neck gators over our faces, snapped some pictures and hustled back down the trail where it was calm and sunny.
This past week my favorite hiking buddy, my dog McKenzie, turned 12. I took the afternoon off work to take her to play in the snow. We drove to one of our favorite state parks and started up a trail that’s usually pretty popular in the summer. It was a weekday, but the trail hadn’t been touched since the weekend snowstorm. We broke trail the entire way and didn’t see another soul expect for a sweet young moose that watched us from the willows.
Mikaela is a wanderluster who lives in Colorado with her dog and fiance. She loves to hike, camp, ski, rock climb, canoe and do yoga. Adventure, photography and blogging are her passions and she believes her purpose in life is to inspire others to get outside and experience life. She wants to preserve natural places and protect the environment for future generations.
Follow her on Instagram: @airundermyheels
Read her adventure blog: www.subarulife.wordpress.com