Ouzel Trail - Snowshoeing
January 1, 2021 · Rocky Mountain National Park
The Ouzel Lake trail was the first trek of the 2021 season and has proven to be more difficult to reach Ouzel Lake in the Winter. The trail is a nice trail but is deceptively difficult in the Winter. Despite best intentions, I stepped onto the trail about an hour later than I planned, and by this time there were a surprising number of people on the trail for the first day of the New Year.
The weather was great; however, a good portion of this trail is on the North face and is in the shade. It had not snowed in several days and the trail was packed down and did not need to use snowshoes, I used traction spikes for this trek. When using only traction spikes on a well packed down snow trail, you tend to move faster, a lot faster for a Winter trek. As such, you tend to heat up faster and get sweaty. The downside to that is, that since this the first leg of this trail is in the shade, anytime you stop, you will ice up, regardless of the moisture-wicking layers.
The warmth and dryness on my legs was perfect, I tried out a new pair of baselayer leggings from Under Armor from their ColdGear collection, they are great. The temperature for most of the trek on the way in was round 29 degrees, I will be interested to see how these leggings hold up on colder, winder Winter treks.
It seems most of the people along the Ouzel trail go to the bridge at Ouzel Falls, from there traffic thins out dramatically. However, since I did this trek in traction spikes and tried to move as quick as I could through the first leg, I was out of gas just past the bridge. I stopped and had lunch just past the bridge and did not see a single person on this portion of the trail. I feel that if I had started an hour earlier, I could have pushed on, but as it turns out this New Year's Day trek came in at a respectable 8.6 miles roundtrip.
This was also the longest I had to wear a mask on the trail, there was a lot of people on the trail up to the bridge at Ouzel Falls. Wearing a mask on the trail does increase the overall difficulty of the trail. My takeaway from wearing a mask that long on the trail is: better to wear a mask and make breathing on the trail difficult vs. not wearing a mask on the trail with that many people during the pandemic and end up struggling to breathe two weeks later. Last early Spring I used an O2 deprivation mask during my at-home cardio exercise, I think it is time to re-add that to the at-home cardio routine. It does make long-haul treks a bit easier.
Hoping for a great, and safe year on the trail.