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Blaine

The snow covered trail on the way through Glacier Gorge.

Dancing Blaine
Thick stand of trees along the trail.
Bling Bling

Here a twisted Pine stands alone along the side of the trail. You can see one of the Glacial Knobs in the background. That is one of two "mountains" of harder rock, left behind by glaciers.

Chili

After a few feet of new snow within the past week, it was easy to follow the trail towards the lake. This picture was taken looking North East. the distant mountains are the Flattop Crags.

A little jumpy
This large boulder added to this already beautiful scene.
Toyota!

The Arrowhead slowly emerges from the forest and becomes the dominating feature as you get deeper into Glacier Gorge.

After a jump

This picture doesn't need too much explanation. I took a lot of pictures of this breathtaking spot. If my battery light on my camera didn't come on, I would have taken a lot more.

Testing the snowshoes
This is the same spot, but in color.
Blaine posing for mama

Just before I finished climbing the third rise just before Black Lake, this scene hit me. You can see the thinning tree line with McHenry's Peak towering above.

Finally at Black Lake, I snapped a few shots before I got too cold. Once you stop moving for too long, the cold starts to creep into your gloves, your coat, and just about anywhere else it can.

A close up of McHenry's Peak.

Looking North up Glacier Gorge. You can see the South West slope of Mummy Mountain in the distance.

The sun came out from behind it's blanket of clouds to warm my numb fingers. This is looking back at Mills Lake as I head back to the trailhead.

Black Lake

Black Lake is another incredible destination within the National Park. The trail to the lake passes by many other popular destinations. It takes you by Alberta Falls (summer trail), Glacier Falls, Mills Lake, Jewel Lake, Ribbon Falls and allows you to remain engulfed in thickly forested sections, and relieves you with beautiful mountain meadows.

The Lake itself is surrounded by high cliffs on all sides, with a few waterfalls gently cascading down the walls. In the summer, wildflowers add a lushness to the area that makes you want to remain in the wonderful dream world forever.

If you continue around the lake to the East, you can ascend the inlet streams gully, which takes you above the cliffs to another world entirely. You can find Blue Lake, Green Lake, Italy Lake and Frozen Lake up there. It is also the way to access Pagoda Mountain, and a roundabout way to get up McHenry's Peak. And if you are up for a very technical climb, you can try to tackle The Spearhead.

But getting to Black Lake is an adventure all its own, especially in powder up to your knees.

The Winter trail begins about a tenth of a mile from the Glacier Gorge junction, and winds its way through the forest around the Eastern most Glacier Knob. It connects with the main trail where Icy Brook and Glacier Creek meet, and where the Loch Vale trail and the Glacier Gorge trail join.

From here you head South towards Mills Lake, another .6 of a mile down the trail. From the trailhead to this point, the trail was fairly packed down, but I had to take advantage of the fresh snow.

After I passed Jewel Lake (just beyond Mills Lake), I started to leave the trail to cut my own path through the new snowfall. I would cross back and fourth over the main trail, probably about every quarter mile.

While there is nothing like stomping through about two feet of pure powder, it definitely gets the heart pumping and the legs burning.

I continued to wind my way further into Glacier Gorge taking as many pictures as I possibly could.

Sometimes, for whatever reason, I take living here for granted. But, it's days like this that slap me in the face and remind me why I do. I can't think of too many things I love more than being out in the mountains on a nice day, with absolutely nothing to worry about.

The trails begins to steepen a bit, just before reaching the first of three rises about a mile before Black Lake. When the snow is as deep as it was, these rises, which seem like nothing in the summer, become a little tricky.

The first of these hills is not too long and is fairly easy to get up aside from trudging through the deep powder. By the time I get to the top, my lungs and legs burning, I can see the second rise. This follows the path of Ribbon Falls, which is buried under a few feet of snow, up to the base of the next rise.

For me, getting up Ribbon Falls was the hardest part of the snowshoe. For some reason, I could never get solid footing, and it took twice as long as it should have.

The next leg was probably the longest of the three rises, but wasn't quite as steep. Plus, I knew that Black Lake was just about 75 yards away, so it gave me that excited energy knowing I was so close.

I spent a few minutes at the lake, soaking in the scenery, and started to get a little cold. After pushing up that last stretch of trail, then standing in the shade by the lake, the cold started to creep through my layers. I took one last look at the scene, and then began the 4 miles back to the trailhead.

The way down was just as fun. It gave me a chance to glissade down the slopes that had been such a pain to get up, and I got talk with all of the people coming up the trail.

I made it back to work just in time for the snow to start falling. I spent a nice evening at work, by the fire, as another 8 inches of snow fell.