Friday, January 12, 2018
For sure the trailhead is packed, I thought driving up Little Cottonwood Canyon at 9:30 am. Moments later, all of 5 vehicles were there. I noted one guy preparing his skis and another with snow shoes on his pack just leaving. I took a few minutes myself to ready up. I hate driving in snow boots, so I put them in. I too, put the snow shoes on the pack. Why wear them when I'll be on hard pack?
Rounding out of the trailhead I saw a family group posing for a family portrait. Beyond them, no one and no fresh snow. There's just enough packed snow to cover the rocks. Then I stumble over one, bawha.
I make good time to the trail split of Red Pine and White Pine. I caught up with the skier. He takes the White Pine trail. I look at the snow bridge. Hum, do I chance it? It's all over 10 inches strong over the creek. I do it. At this temperature and time of day, it's not a problem, later in the day it may present an issue. Noted on the way down, others cross the snow bridge, at that time I take the real bridge which hardly has any snow on it. This time of year of years past there is 2 to 3 feet of snow on the real bridge. This is a sad snow year.
I take my time but still push a good pace. I stop for a few minutes about 1 1/2 miles from the trailhead where the trees open up for a good view down Little Cottonwood for a view of the valley. I don't see any haze. This is good. In times past there's been a wall of yuck at this hour.
Turning into Red Pine Canyon the slope is decorated with ski turns through the trees. From here I have a mile odd to go.
The next trail split is to Maybird Gulch. The trail crosses another bridge. This one too has very little snow on it.
45 minutes later I'm at the lake. Someone cleared snow for a tent site. 18 inches is all they needed to go down. Looking at the mountain before me, a field of rock from the ridge to the lake decorated with a bit of snow. I can see why I hardly note any ski tracks near by.
I share a bit of time with another hiker while I pull out an alcohol stove. I set my pot/stove on an over turned snow shoe. Even with a windscreen and peice of aluminium under it, the cold prevents my water from boiling in what I think is a reasonable time. The other hiker and I share a few tips and tricks about hiking in the Wasatch before he leaves.
I'm alone at the lake enjoying a hot meal, if one calls ramen noodles and tuna a hot meal. I also take time to steep a mug of tea. The clearness of the air, inviting. The lack of snow, disappointing. I debate heading to the upper lake but, since there is no one else here I chose not to. I typically would go if I felt crowded out.
I keep an extra layer on as I head down. A long time ago I learned I sweat on the way up and I freeze on the way down so I layer accordingly. I don't see another hiker until I get well below the bridge to Maybird.
Near the main trail split, I see plenty of folks. The route down from there is packed with families sledding in the trees and along the trail.
Heading down Little Cottonwood Canyon I enter into the rising haze of the day.
*This post was started on January 1, 2018 but not finished until recently.
Interesting enough, I looked at my blog posts and the last blog was also about Red Pine Lake.