Saturday, March 07, 2009

Snowshoeing: State Forest State Park - Gould Trail

The same group I went with last time, was again doing the full moon snowshoe at the State Forest State Park today. Learning a few things from the last time we did this, we meet earlier in the day and arrived at the park before the sun had actually set. I won’t write too much about the park or the event again, you can read the previous post here .

I will say that getting to the park earlier made a word of difference. The Gould Trail is 6.5 miles long, so this time instead of snowshoeing all of it in the dark, we got to snowshoe half of the trail in the daylight, then we got to watch the sun set, and we finished snowshoeing in the dark. Well, not total darkness - the moon was almost full tonight and it was out illuminating our way.

Snow coming down hard as we arrive at the Moose Visitor Center at the State Forest State Park

The moose covered in snow and decorated with lights outside the Moose Visitor Center

But today‘s snowshoeing trek didn’t start out very well. As we headed toward Cameron Pass we ran in to some snow, then more snow and then almost white out conditions. The drive up was slow, the twisty highway 14 was snow covered but by then we were almost at the park. I was riding with a few others in a 4 wheel drive vehicle, out here having one those really helps when the weather turns nasty. We did joke around that if it kept snowing they might close Cameron Pass and since the park is on the west side of the pass, we might be spending the night in Walden.

The snow stops as we get our snowshoes on and head out

Gould Trail sign (left), a sign for the Chocolate Cabin where the park hands out free hot chocolate on the trail (middle), a glow stick hanging from a tree along the Gould Trail (right)

We start snowshoeing with cloudy skies but fresh snow on the ground

Looking back at the Moose Visitor center from the trail - the sky is clearing to the west

Dark sky to the east as the snow storm moves off in that direction

A hint of pink in the sky at sunset

The snow continued as we gathered at he Moose Visitor Center. We decided to try to snowshoe but if it got really bad we would cut it short. Amazingly, by the time we gathered our gear and went outside, the snow had stopped. We started our snowshoe, this time we did the Gould Trail in the clockwise direction, to change things up a bit. We had fresh snow on the trail, and since it had just stopped snowing we were breaking trail in lots of deep and delicate fresh powder - my favorite.

The park gives out glow in the dark bracelets, today I had mine attached to my waist pack where I keep my camera handy

Glow in the dark bracelets - glowing in the dark

The storm was heading east, the sky was very dark in that direction but it was clear and 24 degrees at the park. I had on my warmest jacket and hat, but I didn’t layer as much as before and I have to say I felt warm enough but never too hot. The moon came out, the sky was clear with an occasional cloud here and there. By the time we made it back to the visitor center it was 12 degrees out. We were all surprised because it didn’t feel that cold. It never seems cold to me when I’m moving.

A bit of daylight left on the trail

The moon

Hanging out at the Chocolate Cabin toward the end of the loop

We left the park before 9PM and a couple of hours later we arrived in Fort Collins to snow covered roads. The storm had already moved east of town, so the sky was clear here as well. We got really lucky with the weather tonight and being able to snowshoe in the fresh snow was awesome.

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