As I have mentioned in others posts, driving into Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) never gets old. During wintertime and early Spring, it feels as though you have the whole park to yourself. In the years past, we went snowshoeing nearly weekend, but this season we were only able to get out once. We lost our beloved Aspen March 31, 2019 after a terrible battle with cancer, resulting in liver failure. Aspen had been our amazing, fearless snowshoeing buddy, camping buddy, swimming buddy, and hiking buddy. And, she was our last fur baby.
A few weeks later, though broken-hearted, we ventured to Grand Lake because we needed to feel the crisp, mountain air fill our lungs, and we needed to experience the tranquility that only being in the mountains can provide. We decided to embark upon the Bowen/Baker Trail, which is located on the western side of RMNP, and bisects the heart of the Kawauneeche Valley.
Just as we were pulling into the parking lot of the trailhead, a juvenile male moose was casually trotting down the middle of the paved road of the park, before it disappeared into the trees at the trailhead where we were heading. Once you cross the open valley, you will enter the forrested part of the trail. After about a half-mile in, you will encounter the trail sign, where the trailhead splits into two separate trails: Baker Trail and Bowen Trail. We decided upon the Baker Trail, which crosses into the Never Summer Wilderness. The Baker Trail follows above Baker Gulch, and is a steady incline going forward.
The snow that day was different in different areas. In the open valley, prior to reaching the forest, the snow was hard packed. However, the further we got into the forest along the trail, the softer the snow became. And as we traveled across a very steep incline, Stella slipped and snapped the powerlock on her trekking pole. This was not an ideal situation since we had to return across the same route going back.
As we had continued further along the path, Stella abruptly stopped and had become very still. When we are in the mountains, we are always mindful of our surroundings, constantly watching out for moose, in particular. Far ahead of us, Stella had glimpsed movement in the trees to the left of the trail. I did not see anything so we kept moving, but then Stella suddenly saw movement in the trees to the right of the tail. After a few moments, we were able to clearly see a mother moose with her calf. They were moving up along the slope of the trail we were on.
We slowly moved forward a bit on the trail, but then stopped. The mother moose caught a clear view of us through a small clearing in the trees. The moose’s ears went up in alert as she intensely watched us. Moose can run very, very quickly, so one wrong move and the momma moose would have charged down the slope, and would have reached our position within seconds. And as I have mentioned in previous posts, moose are fearless creatures, especially a momma moose with a calf. Slowly, we backed up on the trail and headed back to the trailhead intersection, because there was no way to safely bypass the momma and her calf.
After doubling back to the trailhead intersection, we embarked upon the Bowen Trail, which was one of the first trails we had explored inside of RMNP years ago. The Bowen trail is a relatively flat trek until you reach the creek. We crossed the creek and headed up the trail; however, since we were down one trekking pole and the snow was soft, we decided to head back to the trailhead. In the two hour snowshoe trek, we covered a distance of roughly four miles.