Mayflower Gulch - Snowshoeing
May 4, 2019 · White River National Forest
Mayflower Gulch is on the west side of the Ten Mile Range and part of the Avalanche Amphitheatre along the range. This very short trek has spectacular views. There are two ways into the bowl of Fletcher Mountain. The first is along a trail that obscures views of Fletcher Mountain, the other is pretty much straight up the middle of the valley following the stream to the bowl, this is the preferred route with spectacular views the entire length of the gulch.
It's difficult to tell, but it seems this hidden gem is a multi-use trail, including hiking, biking, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing, and there are signs that indicate that in the summer gas powered vehicles are allowed in here as well. That seems like a shame to me, it's such a short trek and the views are breathtaking. It was very peaceful when I was there.
Since the trailhead is on the west side of the Ten Mile range, I opted for a slightly later start because I wanted to wait until the sun had filled the valley and lit up the bowl that is surrounded by several big-name peaks. At the back of the bowl is Fletcher Mountain, then off to the north is Atlantic Peak and early in the trek you can see Pacific Peak tucked behind Atlantic Peak. The views are incredible, there is so much snow in the valley and it has been lightly treed on during the winter season - or the wind howls down the valley at night, erasing all tracks from the previous day.
Either way, the snow and the blue sky and clouds racing by make it look like a winter wonderland. The walls of the bowl are covered in snow and they are very steep. It's easy to see why this valley is part of Ten Mile Range Avalanche Amphitheatre. There are three abandoned cabins sitting in the bowl. I can't imagine the feelings the people who stayed there must have had when an avalanche let loose in the middle of the night.
I was one of first people to arrive at the abandoned cabins, though there were three people who were already on their way back out by the time I got there. The clouds racing over the peaks make shadows along the mountain walls of the bowl, giving it a different texture and personality by the minute. Because this is valley is on the west side of the Ten Mile Range it acts as a collecting point for condensation. There's almost always a haze in the sky just above the bowl as it creates new clouds.
This was a great day to be here, there was a very light and infrequent breeze, in a place that otherwise when the wind blows would probably howl down the gulch. While I was at the abandoned cabins, I could make out the tracks of what looked like four mountaineers making their way up the back wall of the bowl to the summit of Fletcher Mountain. I don't know if they planned on going over the top or getting up further to ski down, either way it was crazy to watch them slowly make their way up the nearly vertical face of the back wall of the bowl. I didn't stay long enough to see if they were skiing or summitting as there was a large group of cross-country skiers on their way to the abandoned cabins where I was.
On the way back down I took my time, taking a lot of pictures on the way out as the clouds kept changing the texture of the snow on the mountain walls of the bowl and the valley floor. This was a very easy 3.9 miles and the weather was great.