Ouzel Lake - Snowshoeing

December 30, 2019 · Rocky Mountain National Park

The trek along the Ouzel Lake trail was a nice sunny day for snowshoeing. Though the original plan was to make it to Ouzel Lake, I decided to take my sweet time along the trail, and I got something of a late start. Even with the late start, there were very people on the trail, that always makes a day of snowshoeing under clear blue skies all the more special.

I chose this trail for the last trail of the year, in the hopes of clear weather, which I got, but again the late start put the lake just out of reach. Also, the last part of the trail leading up to the lake has an incredible view of a wide valley with Isolation Peak and Ouzel Peak in the background. However, there is a tricky part of the trail just before the lake. In the summer it is not a big deal, the trail is thin painted line along the edge of steep ridge. In the winter though, this small stretch just before the lake is prime avalanche territory.

It was a beautiful day along the trail, this area can get a lot of wind barreling down off Isolation Peak, and it had made the surface of the snow nice and smooth. For most of the morning on the way in, the trail is in tall stands of conifers. However, the canopy is not too thick so you can almost always see the crystal-clear blue sky. There are several bridges along the trail and are almost filled to the top rails with snow. It is a bit different at this time of the year when compared to last year. There is a good amount of snow on the trails this year, but nothing compared to the epic snows from the previous year.

It's a good trail to take your time along, and along the side of the trail some people had made two snowmen, or based on their snow-hair, I would say they were snowwomen; they kind of looked like greeters or guardians of the trail. It was a nice touch for a lazy, slow day on the trail.

I stopped for lunch at an outcrop that is the turning point to head up to the ridge to get the first glimpse of the wide valley looking up towards Ouzel Lake and Isolation Peak. While I was having lunch, a couple came down from the ridge. They were not in snowshoes and one of the first things they said to each other when they saw me was that they wished they had brought their snowshoes. They told me they had to turn back because they ended up trailblazing and postholing up to above their knees.

I decided to push on to at least as far as they went. I really wish I started about one hour earlier. I feel I could have comfortably made to at least the beginning of the avalanche zone. As it turned out I made it just about the middle of the ridge and while not the absolute best view of the valley at this point it is an incredible sight. There was a strong wind blowing over Isolation Peak and a snow cloud was developing. It's an incredible sight to watch, and with a clear blue sky it was fascinating to watch it form.

I would have loved to keep going, and certainly could have gone further. This trek turned out to be just shy of ten miles. This was a great way to wrap of an amazing year on the trail, starting in snowshoes, then switching to an amazing summer of hiking, then wrapping up the year on a pleasant day in snowshoes on a high ridge with a gentle breeze and crystal-clear blue skies.


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AREAS HIKED

Collegiate Peaks Wilderness9
Eagles Nest Wilderness10
Fossil Ridge Wilderness1
Fraser Experimental Forest1
Gunnison National Forest1
Holy Cross Wilderness12
Hunter-Fryingpan Wilderness3
Indian Peaks Wilderness17
James Peak Wilderness1
Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness2
Mount Evans Wilderness2
Mount Massive Wilderness2
Pike National Forest1
Raggeds Wilderness1
Rocky Mountain National Park41
San Isabel National Forest6
Sangre de Cristo Wilderness1
White River National Forest10
Zirkel Wilderness1

TRAILS BY MONTH

January3
February2
March2
April3
May5
June16
July26
August26
September27
October5
November4
December3

SEASONS ON THE TRAIL

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 ...