A pretty big system moved through late last week and dumped a lot of fresh snow in the upper elevations. A high pressure immediately following the storm brought sunny skies and balmy temperatures. So, what better way to spend a Sunday than in the mountains?
Col, MPK, Shawn, Brandon and I headed up Big Cottonwood Canyon to snowshoe up the Mill D trail to Desolation Lake. Avalanche risks were extremely high in all the canyons over the weekend, but Mill D is a pretty safe trail and isn’t directly under any steep slopes. We expected the trail to be packed, as it’s one of the few without the avalanche risk, but were pleasantly surprised to be some of the only people heading out.
I didn’t take the GPS, so I have no idea the distance, and I didn’t really even pay attention to time, so I have no idea how long we were out. I’d say we spent about 3.5 hours round trip, although we went up at a very leisurely pace (we did get hand clapping once from MPK for apparently going off task and taking too long of a break). The trail starts out as a gradual climb, then levels out for a while in a nice ravine before reaching the trail fork. Heading left leads to Dog Lake, while right climbs to Desolation Lake. According to MPK either choice is about the same distance and intensity, but he lies a lot about distance and intensity, so I’m not sure that’s true. We took the right fork and make a moderately steady climb that culminates in a beautiful, flat meadow that I’m sure gets some nice wildflowers in the late summer.
We found a nice spot and made some snow-bowl chairs to relax for a snack. MPK was generous and shared the beer he brought with him, so we had quite the nice relaxation station going on.
One thing most of us forgot about was the reflection of the sun on the snow. While foreheads and scalps remained unscathed, a few of us ended up with bad sunburns on our chins and necks. It’s easy to forget the dangerous combination of a sunny day on snow can have some nasty effects!
After our break, we headed back down the mountain. We made really good time and passed a lot more people heading up the trail. It definitely pays off to get into the canyons early on the weekends to beat the crowds! We had a great beer and food fest at Porcupine Pub & Grille where I enjoyed their “world famous” chicken noodle soup.
Later, I realized we didn’t actually make it as far as the lake. I had never been, and MPK had only been once, and with all the snow covering everything it was hard to tell if we were on the lake. Turns out we were still about five minutes away from it. Oh well…at least there was beer.