Last weekend, we found ourselves back at our happy place: Grand Lake, CO. It felt as though years had passed since we had closed up our summer Base Camp in October. Last weekend was our first winter adventure for 2018, crazy! The winter season prior, we had spent nearly every weekend partaking in some form of winter adventure. But, the lack of snowfall this season put a damper on things for everyone.
For those of you who live in Colorado, I’m sure you understand the crush of traffic that heads into the mountains every weekend. On this trip, it took us three hours to finally reach the parking lot of the Grand Lake Nordic Center, which is located north of town and slightly to the southwest of Rocky Mountain National Park. The Colorado River runs through the recreation area to the west.
Quickly, I had obtained our passes and we geared up for our adventure. But, we were just not quick enough for Aspen, as she had been chomping at the bit to start on her trek through the snow. Outside of swimming in the summer months, snowshoeing is definitely her next favorite activity. Aspen is a highly athletic girl, and if she had the choice, she would have been a great lead on a sled dog team. Goldie also would have been great at this, and perhaps even better, as she is the strongest Alpha Female dog that we have ever encountered. Goldie’s natural instincts, intuition and behavioral tendencies were far beyond those of a traditional, domestic dog.
Anyway, once we were ready to go, we headed over to the trailhead to don our snowshoes and begin the trek down to the river. On our treks, much to Aspen’s dismay, Stella always treks out front, with Aspen sandwiched in between us so that we may keep her safe in the event we encounter a moose or other wild animal, this has happened on more than one occasion. And, Aspen is always tethered to myself (Larry) on a long leash that I attach to my backpack.
Heading west, we crossed the open space on a well defined trail, and immediately ran in a large group of snowshoers. Aspen, not sure what was happening when she saw two of them on the ground making snow angles, had begun barking as though to say, “hey look at me, I’m over here.” Goldie, on the other hand, would have insisted upon running right up to them and sniff them to see if they were hurt. Once we had gotten closer to the crowd, Aspen received her desired attention and was then ready to continue her trek toward the river.
The trail is a slow and methodical downhill grade, cutting through open space and forested patches until you arrive at the river. We usually trek parallel to the river until we come upon the bridge that crosses over the Colorado River. Typically, we would jump on the groomed River Loop as the loop meanders further downhill through a pine laden forest. However, due to the clear cutting operations to remove the beetle kill pine, the trail was closed. Unlike last year due to the trail detours, we were able to continue south along most of the summer Colorado River Trail.
We began our trek back east, as we steadily climbed as through the forested trail. When we arrived back at the trailhead with our loop completed, we felt a sense of contentment wash over us. There is something to be said about being back in the mountains again, and feeling the fresh air seep into our lungs. The quietness and solitude of the mountains is something we have missed dearly.
With a quick trip back into town to check-in at our winter base camp, we quickly unpacked and settled Aspen in before we headed back to the Nordic Center. That was our second time cross country skiing in Colorado, as last year we skied the trails at the Nordic Center at Eldora Mountain. Once again, geared up and headed out to conquer Randall’s Romp, a 4.5K loop.
I ski on Salomon Snowscape 7’s and Stella glides on Rossignol Evo’s. With our skies under foot, we began our glide down the groomed trailed; the sky was speckled with light snow. Passing near the ponds, we had skied southwest towards the Colorado River. At that point, the trail parallels the river while it makes a steep climb over a short distance, which then descends as we continued north along the river before heading east. The last third of the Randall’s Romp trail is relatively flat until the climb back to the lodge. The Grand Lake Nordic Center offer classic and skate skiing on a variety of trails rates from easy to difficult.
Once we had finished skiing, we went back to the lodge to enjoy hot showers, and topped the evening off with take out from Grand Pizza. The pizza, as always, was outstanding! Grand Pizza is our second favorite pizza joint in Colorado. What a great way to end an awesome day of adventure in the snow!
Sunday morning, we had grabbed breakfast before driving into Rocky Mountain National Park. It is always hard to resist the allure of the park in the winter. The views of the snowcapped mountains are stunning. Once out of the park, we drove back to the Roaring Fork Trailhead, located at the southern end of Lake Granby.
Next, we stopped in Winter Park where we walked through the city’s new market. And, we took Aspen for a short walk along a portion of the Vasquez Creek Trail behind Confluence Park, which we normally bike in the summer. On the drive home, we decided that our next snowshoe trip in Grand Lake would involve a trek beginning at the Bowen/Baker Trailhead inside of RMNP.
Larry and Stella’s Snowshoe Reviews