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Getting back into the mountains for the first time in four weeks makes you realize how stupid you've been. Yeah, okay, so I had the flu for a week or so...still no excuse. Honestly though, this was the first time I have felt I had the energy to go on longer snowshoe since being sick, and it was fantastic to be in the midst of of one of God's special places again.
It has been a long time since I have been to Black Lake, a jewel of a lake tucked back in Glacier Gorge with some of the Park's most breathtaking mountains heading skyward along all shores. One in particular has a special place in my heart as being one of the most prominent, majestic, and all together awe inspiring mountains I have ever seen...McHenry's Peak. I climbed this mountain a couple of years ago and absolutely loved it. You can see the trip report HERE. When the alarm went off at 5:30 this morning, it didn't take much to get me out of bed and out the door.
I did switch on the tv while I ate my oatmeal and got engulfed in some show on MTV about some dumb girls acting stupid, so I wasted some time. When I snapped out of my daze, I hit the road and arrived at the trail head about 30 minutes later than I had hoped. But this didn't dampen my spirits. I started out at a slow pace, not wanting to push myself too hard at first after being so sick, and having so much time pass between physical activity. The going was rough the first mile and I didn't know if I would want to push on to Black Lake. So I stopped a few times, ate one of those delicious Snickers energy bars, and before too long I was feeling pretty good.
I just tried to keep a steady pace and to enjoy my surroundings. That was the goal of the day. Not push it too hard, but just get back in the swing of things. I made it to Mills Lake and was feeling pretty good. I stopped there to rest, take some photos, and chat with my old drinking buddy Bilbo. He was headed over the Misty Mountains en route to Mordor. He was kind of being a jerk. He has a big head now that he's a movie star and everything. I hope the trolls kill him this time.
With my pack on tight I was off. Over Jewel Lake and on to Black Lake. The snow was great on the way up. There was a bit of fresh snow...not much, probably just what was blown off of the divide the night before. I wound my way through the forest and watched anxiously as the Arrowhead came into view. This is such a dramatic scene as you near Black Lake. The Arrowhead rises straight above you, almost as if it will topple over and crush you at any time. Soon, McHenry's Peaks out from behind the Arrowhead and looms high above.
The last 1.2 miles to the lake could be the longest 1.2 miles in the park. Last time I hiked to Black Lake I remembered the same thing. And this time, it seemed like a lot more than 1.2 miles as well. But the rises you must ascend to reach Black Lake didn't seem as severe as I remember...which was a nice treat.
I soon ran into some great people vacationing from Kansas. They were back country camping a couple of miles from the lake. We hiked the rest of the way together and talked about how much we love these special mountains. We discussed how much people who don't venture past the parking lots are missing out on. But, I guess that means less crowds for those who "know." It was great meeting you Allen and Lori (hope I spelled your names right)! It makes me feel so great to see people so enthusiastic about getting out and exploring!
We headed up to the east of Black Lake to get a look at the conditions of the trough on Longs Peak and to get some shots of McHenry's. We said goodbye and I had to head back down for a dentist appointment. I wonder what the record is for the most money spent at the dentist in two months? Ha!
A nice warm, spring day in Rocky...what could be better?!
|until next time...|
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