Ouzel Trail - Mid-March - Snowshoeing

March 14, 2020 · Rocky Mountain National Park

The snowshoeing trek along the Ouzel Trail in the Wild Basin area of Rocky Mountain National Park was breathtaking. The weather was perfect, a light breeze and at times, no breeze at all along the ridge just below Lower Ouzel Lake. The sky was a big blue with large white clouds racing by. This snowshoeing trek was supposed to be along the trail to Thunder Lake. However, when I got to the split along the Ouzel trail to go to Thunder Lake, I decided that today would be a great day to take in the views along the ridge just below Lower Ouzel Lake.

What a great treat this was, I only came across six people on the trail. How's that for the social distancing encouraged right now? It's not surprising to see only a small number of people along the trail in the Wild Basin area of RMNP. It's not an area people associate with RMNP and is often passed over, which makes this area that more special.

There was a light snow the night before and left about three inches of new snow on the trail. When I got to the Winter trailhead, the road in and the trail where covered in snow. However, when I got back to the trailhead, the first part of the trail was either slush or mud. The entire trek was very warm, and there are obvious sings that Spring is here. On the way in, you could tell it was warm as the snow was heavy and would stick to the bottom of traction spikes and snowshoes. Between the big bright blue skies and the wet heavy snow, it makes the snow seem extra white, almost like salt.

The bridges over the North Saint Vrain Creek are full up with snow to the upper handrails, which in the Summer are almost mid-chest-level. So there plenty of snow. The first signs of the slow beginnings of the Spring Runoff are visible. There are patches of moving water along the river and you can hear the water moving under the snow; a sure sign the volume and speed of the water in the river is picking up. The other sign of Spring was mosquitoes, at this time of the year there are not that many, but they are big and surprisingly nimble for this time of the year.

At the first stop for lunch at an overlook that looks down the valley there are two mountains to the north that are easy to recognize, they are Mt Meeker and Longs Peak. Mt Meeker has a similar diamond face on the south but not as big as the iconic diamond face that everybody sees when driving along I-25. It was so clear, that the outline of the Notch on Longs Peak was very easy to make out. Though there was next to no breeze along this trek, it was interesting to watch the clouds race over Longs peak and evaporate before reaching Mt. Meeker.

Very few people had pushed on past this overlook and up onto the ridge in a wide valley just below Ouzel Lake. The views from this ridge on a clear day, like this day are spectacular. Add to that some large white, high clouds to add texture to the mountains make this a very special place. This section of the trail, weather it is covered in snow in Winter or covered in shades of green in the Summer is special. This ridge can easily be the destination. The high, snow-covered gaged peaks ringing this valley, in combination with a huge blue sky make this area feel like a cathedral.

This valley is ringed with a lot of peaks, starting from the south and going clockwise, the valley is ringed with Copeland Mountain, Ouzel Peak, Mahana Peak, Isolation Peak, Tanima Peak, Mt Allice, Chiefs Head Peak, Pagoda Mountain, Mt Orton, Longs Peak and Mt Meeker. It was a busy place for glacial activity.

The snow covering Copeland Mountain, Ouzel Peak and Mahana Peak was simply amazing, looking like they were covered in soft white blanket of snow. The rock strata peeking through the peaks of Mt. Allice, Chiefs Head Peak and Pagoda Mountain set against a deep blue sky and a few high thick white clouds looked like a postcard. I spent a lot of time here just walking around on this ridge taking in the views and watching the clouds race over the Continental Divide, only to evaporate shortly after they crossed over the Divide.

As I was leaving the ridge, the clouds were beginning to build in strength and get a little darker, maybe to leave a new dusting of snow for the next day's travelers along the trail. I hope to be able to pick up the pace and get a few more snowshoeing treks in before the Summer season begins. Thunder Lake is still on the list, but I will need to start about two hours earlier than I did for snowshoeing trek that came in at 11.4 miles roundtrip. Not bad for snowshoeing, and perfect weather for mid-March.


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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

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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 ...