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.


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AREAS HIKED

Collegiate Peaks Wilderness10
Eagles Nest Wilderness11
Fossil Ridge Wilderness1
Fraser Experimental Forest1
Gunnison National Forest1
Holy Cross Wilderness14
Hunter-Fryingpan Wilderness3
Indian Peaks Wilderness15
James Peak Wilderness5
Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness2
Mount Evans Wilderness2
Mount Massive Wilderness3
Pike National Forest1
Raggeds Wilderness1
Rocky Mountain National Park42
Roosevelt National Forest1
San Isabel National Forest7
Sangre de Cristo Wilderness3
White River National Forest10
Zirkel Wilderness1

TRAILS BY MONTH

January4
February3
March3
April3
May5
June18
July26
August29
September29
October6
November5
December3

SEASONS ON THE TRAIL

2022

The 2022 season has started. This season marks the tenth season I have been keeping track of my backcountry tracks. Hoping this will be a landmark year.

2021

The 2021 Season has started. Though the pandemic created a challenging 2020 season, I am looking forward to building on the 2020 season to create an incredible 2021 season. The pandemic has taught me a few things about when and where to go hiking. As such planning for the 2021 se...

2020

The 2020 hiking season has been incredible, even in the face of adversity. The pandemic has made for a logistically challenging season. Somehow, I was still able to piece together an incredible 230+ miles on the trail this season and able to see some truly spectacular places. Enj...

2019

The 2019 hiking season was an interesting season, this was the first season that I started and ended the season snowshoeing and a full summer of hiking for a total of just under 225 miles on the trail. What this season has taught me is that it's winter in the mountains for a long...

2018

The 2018 Summer Hiking Season has come to an end. What a season, incredible views and just over 230 miles on the trail. Even with 230 miles, this season seems short to me, perhaps I'll add something to it during the winter season - snowshoeing perhaps. In the meantime, I hope you...

2017

The 2017 hiking season was interesting, I was able to explorer more of Colorado's National Forests and get in some camping, not as much camping as I would have liked, but hopefully next year I'll able to get in more multi-day hikes. This season came in just under 129 miles roundt...

2016

The 2016 hiking season was about spreading out and exploring more of Eagles Nest Wilderness, Indian Peaks Wilderness and touching on White River National Forest - and of course a few trips into Rocky Mountain National Park. These are amazing National treasures. This season came i...

2015

The 2015 hiking season was a big hiking season, I decided to do a fundraiser for The Red Cross (I learned a lot about fundraising - it was very interesting) with my pledge to hike over 200 miles for this season, I came in at 217 miles for the season; what a great time out on the ...

2014

The 2014 hiking season was almost all about exploring Rocky Mountain National Park, it really is a beautiful park. What I learned during the course of this hiking season is, although people may roll their eyes when you say you're going on a hike in RMNP, it really is spectacular ...

2013

2013 is the year this all started. The hike to Pitkin Lake started it all. Although it was a difficult trail, I was hooked immediately. However, I didn't have the right gear and the seasons were changing quickly. So, even though this season only brought two hikes, I new this was ...