Saturday, February 21, 2009

Snowshoeing: RMNP Glacier Gorge to Mills Lake

A beautiful 50 degrees in Fort Collins, upper 30’s at Rocky Mountain National Park. Today I headed out to snowshoe with a group again. The destination was Mills Lake. I have not been there yet, so I was excited to check it out. We headed out of the Glacier Gorge trailhead. Almost immediately we started climbing but the climbing was steep but short, then there would be a long flatter section, then a short steep section again.

Map posted at the trailhead (left), signs posted on the trail (right)

We passed by Alberta Falls, which I hiked to this past summer when I was visiting Colorado, I didn’t see the falls at all this time around, it must have been covered up by the snow. Up to this point the scenery has been nice, but having hiked and snowshoed in so many beautiful places already, I’m getting used to being around so much great scenery.

Starting the climb

More steep stuff

That's me climbing in this picture

Once we got close to Mills Lake, we followed Mills Creek up to the lake, it was frozen and we snowshoed right on top of it. I guess the actual summer trail is hard to find in the winter time. As we exited the creek bed, the amazing jaw-dropping scenery opened up in front of us. It was hard to look at the scenery and snowshoe at the same time so I had to stop and take it all in, as the others did as well. This may just be the most beautiful place I have seen on my snowshoes.

Very close to Mills Lake now

That's not where Mills Lake is at, but why not, climbing is fun

Posing with the awesome snow drifts

Looking back to where we came from

Mills Lake, frozen solid - glistening in the sun, surrounded on 3 sides by tall snow covered mountains. As I headed toward the lake I was told that the tall peak ahead of us, directly on the other side of the lake, was the back of Longs Peak.

Snowshoeing Mills Creek bed to Mills Lake

Almost at Mills Lake now

This is Mills Lake

Frozen Mills Lake with the Longs Peak behind it

Snowshoeing around the east shore of Mills Lake

This is my favorite picture of Mills Lake from this trip

Yep, the lake is pretty much frozen solid

Posing on top of Mills Lake

Heading back via Mills Creek bed

I have seen pictures of some of these high elevation mountain lakes in the summer time, they are beautiful, but in the winter time with all the snow and ice - they are just magical, like out of a fairy tale.

One more self-photo at Mills Lake

Too steep to snowshoe down the hill, sliding on our butts is easier

We continued to the other side of Mills Lake, took a break and headed back to the parking lot. Now that I've been to Mills Lake, I'm curious about the other lakes in the park. Are they equally beautiful in the winter? I guess I’ll have to find out.

High-lighted in yellow our route from Glacier Gorge to Mills Lake

Round Trip Distance (Glacier Gorge to Mills Lake): 5.6 miles
Beginning Elevation: 9,200 feet
Ending Elevation: 9,975 feet
Elevation Gain: 775 feet
Difficulty: Easy - Moderate

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