But there is still quite a bit of snow in the high country. I did a hike the other night to check out some trail conditions on the Lake Haiyaha loop in Rocky the other day, and was astounded by the amount of snow on the connector. Right away, I encountered numerous snow fields, as well as three teenage boys from somewhere in the south who were lost. After showing them where the trail was, they informed me that they were doing the hike as a warm-up hike for Longs Peak, our 14,000+ foot peak in the park. This time of year can be very dangerous on the high peaks as there is a lot of snow. There have already been two medivac rescues off Long Peak and a fatality. In my most respectful and gentle way, I tried to suggest some alternate hikes that might be better choices.
I continued my hike, and had difficulty locating the trail on numerous occasions. After traipsing over numerous drifts up to 5 feet, I reached a clear patch, and started descending into the Dream Lake trail junction. The last mile was treacherous, with drifts up to 9 feet at steep angles covering the trail. I was clutching my poles, jabbing them into the snow, hoping I didn’t slip, gingerly kicking steps into the snow — why didn’t I bring an ice axe? At one point, I simply bailed, by sitting on my butt, and doing the butt glissade — what a vision that would have been for anyone who was looking? I did make it safely, but it was a reminder that even though the calendar says it’s officially summer, they are some wintry hiking conditions in the high country.