Wheeler Lakes - Snowshoeing
December 29, 2018 · Eagles Nest Wilderness
The weather for snowshoeing to Wheeler Lakes could not have been better, not a cloud in the sky, no wind, not even a light breeze, great snow and someone had already broken trail. There was a light dusting of snow the night before, so I could tell there was nobody ahead of me on the trail and on the way back the only fresh tracks where mine. It was a great day for a 6.5-mile roundtrip snowshoeing trek.
It was cold though; when I started out it was 6 degrees, which was a heatwave compared to the -4 when I left Leadville for the trailhead. By the end of the trek it was a balmy 18 degrees. However, with such a clear sky and no breeze it felt warmer. However, the laws of thermodynamics where in play all day. I knew it would be cold, so I wrapped my hydration tube in pipe insulation and duct tape to keep it all together. At the trailhead by the time it took me to get my hat and gloves on the hydration tube and bite valve had frozen solid and I could not breath hot air back into the tube to free it of ice. I did have a small bottle of Gatorade with me, so I had to stop often to refill that with water from the unfrozen bladder of water.
This lack of water and the drill it took to get unfrozen water made what should have been a fantastic day on the trail a bit difficult. Without proper hydration on the trail, simple things become difficult and slow to accomplish. Added to that, the lack of water induced a massive headache, compounding the difficulty of simple trivial tasks on the trail.
Other than being dehydrated and getting altitude sickness, it was a beautiful day on the trail. Even though this trailhead is just across the highway from the Copper Mountain ski resort, the sounds of the highway disappear as soon as you get into the trees.
I only had to break trail for a short distance from a split to Uneva Pass and Wheeler Lakes. As soon as I stepped off of the laid tracks I sank up to my hips in fresh powder. The snow firmed up a bit but always sounded like I was walking on ice that was creaking - though I was never on a pond, lake or river. Other than the laid snowshoe tracks there were a few four-legged tracks in the snow here and there.
Beautiful fresh snow, beautiful big blue sky and not a sole around, would have been a perfect day if it weren't for the hydration issues - working on fixing that issue.