Our latest hike is one we have wanted to take for some time, And while it is an area we have hiked several times before, we had never been there in the often avoided deep cold of winter. Add to the difficulties of winter hiking in the high country, we have personal reasons for our trek as the area we were heading for is dedicated to the memory of a dearly departed family member whose love for life was, and continues to be, an inspiration to us. As such, perseverance was the key to successfully reaching our destination. Our goal, Long Lake (10,600 feet) just below the Continental Divide deep within the Indian Peaks Wilderness. Sunny and blue conditions invited us to trek on and push through deep snow to reach our goal. Our trusty snowshoes and a positive attitude and off we went in search of not only an incredibly magical destination, but as much, another spiritually fulfilling adventure.
[Approaching the Long Lake trail head in the Indian Peaks Wilderness]
Bucket lists, desires, goals, needs…we’ve all got them. This hike falls in between pretty much all of those. We’ve tried before only to get turned back by weather. A winter hike in the high country can be difficult in and of itself, add harsh winter conditions and you have to ask yourself if the safety risk is worth the effort. Several weeks ago we tried this very same hike, at the trail head we were met with severe winds, blowing snow and a temperature of 6 degrees making for near whiteout conditions. Halfway into the hike we turned around and headed home. There’s no doubt it was still a good hike, but safety was the key to our being able to return another day. As I’ve stated before, I used to be hell bent to reach the destination no matter the end result. Nowadays I appreciate what I can do in hopes of fulfilling my goals at any given time, responsibly and respectfully for not only myself, but all those involved.
Perseverance was certainly a key factor to this hike. Hiking in deep snow, even though well equipped with winter gear, is no easy task. Physically demanding, and perhaps even mentally demanding, we pushed on weighing the balance of safety and our own desires. Our hike was 7.5 miles round-trip, which equals about 10 miles in dry snow free conditions in energy output. Given our winter gear and good weather conditions it was really a matter of can we physically do this. Our love for the outdoors and the area we were hiking in was certainly a great selling point, but even more so was the desire to go to a place that has a much deeper impact on us than just a hike. As was said before, the memory of a departed family member and how great an impact they had on our lives was more moving than the most beautiful hike we could ever venture on. Just knowing their spiritual presence was in the air made the day all the more magical. Indeed, with this in mind, the most daunting of tasks in life can bring out strength we never knew we had. In the end, our hike was not only successful, but every bit fulfilling in body, mind and spirit.
[Long Lake, Indian Peaks Wilderness]
There’s no way a picture can convey the actual experience. Indeed, in this case that notion holds true. Long Lake in the backcountry of the Indian Peaks Wilderness is a special place. The energy one feels here is otherworldly and so calming it is hard to leave at the end of the day. An infectious and captivating peace comes over you as you enter into this area. Perhaps the obvious beauty, perhaps the elements of nature themselves or perhaps even the spirits of the Native Americans whom protected these lands in years past and the peaks who are aptly named for them, this area draws deep into the individual who is blessed to have experienced it. It is here one can spend ours exploring, meditating or just absorbing the soul-cleansing nature of paradise on earth. Long Lake is not only a destination, but a gateway to further expansive adventures into its beginnings. High above in the backdrop the snow deepens and slowly melts all year feeding the streams that flow into Long Lake as if the veins of the of the spiritual world breathe life into the earth. Yes, there’s more here than meets they eye…
[St Vrain Creek outflow from Long Lake]
A deep blanket of untouched powder adorns the Long Lake area all winter. Perhaps a bit of OCD, but I love leaving snow untouched, allowing its natural beauty and cleansing effects to be left to the eye and not the foot who tramples its serenity. Places such as this bring peace to a weary soul and the traveler who finds it, to this I would add, the traveler in this life and the next. It’s no wonder Debbie and I frequent this area every chance we get. Being able to come here in the winter has been a long time dream of ours that is no doubt to us been worth the effort. Indeed we will be returning, not only in winter, but all seasons. And not only for ourselves, but to engage the memory and energy of our loved ones who not only live on, but walk with us daily.
[Indian Peaks Wilderness]
Our hike is dedicated to our beloved Rosemary Rogers Olsen whose infectious love for life, people and nature continues to be an inspiration