CDT, continental divide, Devil's Thumb Ranch, snowshoe, Sorel Conquest snow boots, Tabernash, Winter Park
I’m interrupting my hiatus to report to you a continuation of this season’s snowshoe activities. Although I didn’t actually snowshoe. Ellie wanted to visit the mountains for her birthday and sonofagun if they don’t still have some snow. We drove up Friday evening after work in about 90 minutes. Winter Park still has some ski runs open but we didn’t go there. Devil’s Thumb Ranch is a few miles further north off Hwy 40. Turn east at the town of Tabernash onto County Road 83. DTR is three miles down this road tucked into a meadow hanging off the western side of the Continental Divide.
The weather Saturday was gorgeous. Karen and I hiked around the meadow for an hour in the morning while the girls swam. Ellie brought along her friend Ivy. Brit was back home working and watching the house and dog. The pool is outdoors but heated. Karen and I had to negotiate around mud and random streams of melting snow on our hike, but it was nice. Later in the morning, the girls did archery out in the meadow while Karen and I hung out at the pool. We also did some weights. This was my first time lifting weights since my surgery. Karen also introduced me to planks. I took it easy and felt fine. The swimming felt like a great exercise to stretch out my abdomen.
We woke Sunday to a few inches of fresh snow and cooler weather. Perfect for snowshoeing, although not for horseback riding. The girls planned to ride at 9:30 but the Stables cancelled the outing due to unsafe conditions. In addition to ice on the trails, a 25 mph wind was blowing which would have made the event unpleasant. I struck out on my own per plan though. I left the snowshoes off opting for my Sorel Conquest winter hiking boots. I could have used snowshoes after the first mile.
The wind dissipated after I crossed the meadow and reached some trees. This is also where the snow deepened. I post-holed a bit but only up to my shins. This didn’t completely kill my momentum but it made for a tough slog. I was smart enough to bring along my trekking poles. While snowshoes weren’t absolutely necessary, I would not have been able to hike very far without the poles. From the lodge, which sits at 8500 feet, I started out via the Interpretive Trail until I reached Horizon. I took Horizon north to the stables where I merged onto the Moosestomp Trail. I took this up to 8800 feet which is about the boundary of the ranch.
I crossed several creeks that were not on the map. Not that I took a map but later I compared my Garmin results to the trail map. A meadow like this undergoing massive snow melt has innumerable, ephemeral creeks. Pretty happy with my boots for keeping my feet cozy. My boots were often under several inches of water but my feet remained dry and comfortable. My total distance was 3.31 miles with a 22 minutes per mile pace. Seemingly slow but not really given the conditions. This is easily my biggest workout since my surgery on April 2nd. Naturally I was winded but I was never light-headed or dizzy. It appears the anaesthesia has finally worked its way out of my lungs.
Vacationing in the mountains during springtime is tricky given the random weather and certainty of mud. This worked out well for me though. Ellie enjoyed the archery and got in tons of swimming. I got in my best workout of all of April. I’m starting to think I might be running again well before my target date of July. In fact, I have an aggressive plan to hike 80 miles along the Continental Divide Trail at the end of June. That won’t be running necessarily, but it will be five days of hiking around an average elevation of 12,000 feet. This spring is mostly downtime for me but I expect to back be on track this summer.