Thursday, December 11, 2008

Estes Cone, take 2

Well, it has been a little while since I added to my blog and consequently I am a little behind. About a week ago, Molly and I gave Estes Cone another shot. The weather had been cold and cloudy for about four days and we needed to get out. The forecast for last Saturday called for low wind and mostly sunny skies. Perfect! So we packed the bags and headed out to the Lily Lake TH.

As you may remember from a previous post, the summit of Estes Cone is about 4 miles from the Lily Lake TH. We had started this hike before but ran out of time. This time we hit the trail at about 11 am, so we had plenty of time. The temps were in the low 30's, so it was a little crisp if you sat around too long. Here is Molly pointing out our destination.

The Storm Pass trail branches off the Lily Lake trail soon after leaving the parking lot. Immediately we noticed that no one had been on this trail lately because there were no tracks in the snow, which was about 2" deep and unconsolidated. Here is Molly as we started in to the trees.

Initially we were concerned that it would be hard to follow the trail but it was actually quite obvious. It helped that the majority of the trail passed through a dense evergreen forest. Along the way we got to take a guess at various tracks in the snow. Here are a few of the highlights.

Probably a squirrel

Guessing a coyote

Not sure what made this

I think both of us were surprised at how difficult the snow made the hike, at least on the way up. It was kind of like walking in sand. Here is Molly feeling the climb.

We stopped for a bit to much on some Kind bars and pistachios. It is hard to beat pistachios on a hike. Here is Molly laughing at another one of my hilarious jokes.

and me hogging the pistachios

Along the way we saw something pretty cool but hard to describe and impossible to take a picture of. There were these somewhat small puffy clouds that seemed to have a rainbow overlaid on top of them. They were beautiful. It reminded me of one of those trippy Grateful Dead posters. Maybe someone laced my pistachios with acid. Sounds like something Molly would do.

After about 3 hours we reached the trail junction where the summit trail branches off of Storm Pass trail. Up until now, the trail had been pretty easy to follow, even with the snow. Unfortunately, right after the junction it became very difficult to follow and we quickly lost it. Getting to the summit would not of been a problem because we were only about a third of a mile away but we both became concerned that we may not be able to find the trail on the way back down. After a short discussion we agreed that losing the trail in the winter was not a good idea so we turned our backs to the summit and headed down. Kind of a bummer but it was a wise decision and a storm was brewing over Longs peak. We were both sure that we could of made it but it just felt a little risky. I think I'll start carrying my GPS during the winter.

The walk back to the car went fast. We both longed for our skis but the thin snowpack would of destroyed them. While the hike up took 3 hours, the hike out only took about 1. Here I am excited to be nearing the parking lot because were heading Eds Cantina for some burgers and fries.

All in all, it was a very nice hike. It feels good to be able to get out in the mountains in the winter. Here are some random shots from the hike.


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