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Bird's Rest

Royal Gorge Cross-Country Ski Resort

Royal Gorge Links:

February 6th, 1999

11.3 miles
800 vertical feet
Total Time: 6:10

Rating: 6/10

Directions:   View Driving Map


Jean, Jennie, Jessie, Kane, Lan, Marcos and I snow-shoed in Royal Gorge Cross-Country Ski Resort.

It was snowing. It'd been clear most of the week since the last hike, but the snow returned for the weekend. It was 10:50am by the time we got started, and the rain showed no signs of letting up. It was a mild snow -- wetter than the High Country snow, but not too bothersome when we started.

Dismounting from the snowshoes at the Wilderness Lodge

I'm not quite sure how you can fall wearing snowshoes, but Jean managed it. =)

Jessie and Marcos enjoying the fluffy white stuff.

We started down the Mirkwood trail. This is mostly downhill all the way to the Wilderness Cafe, 4.8 kilometers later. There were spots where there were views between the trees, but that view was blocked by the snow storm. Where there should have been views of majestic valleys, instead was a uniform gray mist.

We enjoyed lunch inside the crowded Wilderness Cafe. Soup of the day was an excellent red curry lentil. After an extended stay of almost an hour, we continued along the Kidd Lake trail.

Lan and company battling through blizzard-like conditions.

I'd learned my lesson from the last snowshoe hike, and had purchased another layer of fleece. So I had 4 layers on top -- long wicking underwear, two fleece layers, and a waterproof/breathable shell. My body felt comfortably warm. I'd also bought a fleece bottom, but thought I would be too hot so it stayed in my pack the whole time. My balaclava was serving me well, but I could have used a thicker one for even better insulation against the growing cold. I was much happier with my snowshoes this time; I found that if I turn my feet outwards before strapping on the bindings, my heels don't click.

The Kidd Lake trail is slightly uphill. Eventually we came to intersection 34, where we continued along the Devil's Outlook trail to the warming hut. The 7 of us packed into hut to warm up. By this time the snow had started to fall a bit harder, it was getting colder, and most of us were wet in various places. For me, it was still my shoes -- the boot and shoe spray wasn't working. Lan emptied my Nalgene bottle into the kettle and started the water boiling. We made hot tea (I should have brought some hot chocolate) before Kane and I went off to visit Bird's Rest.

Sipping tea in the warming hut.

The remainder of the group headed back on the Wiesel trail. Kane and I went along the 1-kilometer Bird's Rest loop. Soon we were standing on the edge of the Lower Cascade Lake. Again, what would have been a great view was marred by a gray mist. In addition, we were exposed to strong winds and the accompanying wind-blown snow. Using the radio we told the others, who were now about 15 minutes ahead of us, that we were heading their way.

As we retraced our steps back to the warming hut, we saw our snowshoe prints disappearing in the constant snowfall. This can be a bit disconcerting when the trail isn't completely obvious. But eventually we made it up to the warming hut and started down the Wiesel trail. 30 or 40 minutes later, we caught up to the others.

We headed down Deborah's Delight, back to the Wilderness Lodge and Cafe. After a brief stop, we started up the Yuba trail, which would take us back to the Summit Station. We slowly drifted apart. Kane, Lan, and Jennie made it back to the lodge as Jean, Jessie, Marcos and I made it to the top of the Yuba Hill lift. Jean decided she wouldn't be able to make the final kilometer before 5pm (Royal Gorge closing time), so she and Jessie hopped onto a snowmobile back, leaving Marcos and I still on the trail. We made it back just at 5pm, and the snow was still falling.


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