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After taking a couple of weeks off to head back to Texas, I had only gotten out into the mountains a couple of times and hadn't really taken too many photos. This past Tuesday, I wanted to get out again and do a nice, safe (from spring avy danger) mountain. Mt. Ida came to mind. This is a wonderful mountain and is a safe hike because you stay on ridge tops for the entire route, which follows the crest of the Continental Divide from Milner Pass inside Rocky Mountain National Park. I didn't take too many pictures, and don't have too much time to write a very detailed report...but here is what I have...
On the drive to the trail head, I was surprised to see all of the slide activity, especially on eastern slopes and couloirs. There were some slide in the Never Summer Mountains that looked huge!
When I got to the trail head, there was still several feet of snow on the ground. I walked for a short bit and decided that the snow would be hard enough to leave the snowshoes on my pack for the first part of the day. I was way off...only a few hundred yards into the hike I was sinking up to my waist. So I strapped my snowshoes on, but this didn't help too much. I was at least knee deep in snow all the way to tree line...this wore me out because I really pushed myself to make it to tree line without taking even a little break. This isn't that far, but was very tiring from all of the post holing.
Once at tree line, the conditions were a bit better, simply because there wasn't as much snow up there. There were still some pretty deep and soft drifts up there that took some energy to get across, but for the most part it was great. It was a beautiful day, only a couple of clouds in the sky and not too windy.
I walked right along the divide all the way to the summit, taking just a few pictures along the way. I was a bit disappointed though. I have hiked this trail to Ida's summit 7 or 8 times over the past few years and have seen bighorn sheep every single time...but so far there were none. A lot of tracks, but no sheep.
Once on the summit, I only took a short break because the wind was picking up, it was cooling off rapidly and some suspicious looking clouds were moving in. So I really picked up the pace on the way back, actually jogging in my snowshoes for about a mile. I took a different way back, a little lower on the ridge, closer to tree line, in case any of these clouds turned against me. Inside of a large, snow filled, bowl, there they were....two huge rams. I stopped to admire them for a minute, then kicked myself for forgetting the telephoto lens. Oh well. I was admiring my surroundings when I noticed about 15 more sheep on top of the ridge (where the trail is). They were silhouetted by the sun. What a beautiful scene!
It was a fairly uneventful hike back to my car except for the softened snow below tree line. This took forever to negotiate. It was waist deep without mercy and I had to dig each snowshoe out after every step. Finally I just took the snowshoes off...it was easier to pull just my legs out than have to pull the huge heavy snowshoe out. Needles to say, this kicked my @$$. I was exhausted by the time I made it back to my car. All in all this took me over 5.5 hours...usually takes me under 4. The soft snow really slowed me down.
It was a nice day on the divide, but I have to say that I am about ready for the snow to be gone.
|until next time...|
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