The second time we went to Rocky Mountain National Park it was also an overcast snowy day. One of these days we’ll get out there when the weather is better and actually have the full spectacular views. As it was, the views were still pretty good, and at the end of the day the weather partially broke for us to see the mountains and a partial sunset.
But I am getting ahead of myself. We again went to the Bear Lake area, but stopped at the Glacier Gorge Trailhead. Initially we had planned to hike out to Mills Lake. So how did we end up at The Loch you ask? Good question. The trail out to Mills Lake and The Loch were one and the same for quite awhile, until a fork in the trail near the end. And we actually started down the Mills Lake branch, but what we discovered is that when you have a bunch of folks hiking in the area and the true trails obscured by snow, you sometimes have what appear to the be real trail, the snow compacted by numerous feet traveling the same way, and it can be hard to tell the difference. Anyway, we weren’t entirely sure, but it was such a neat area and going in the right direction, so we kept going, and eventually came across another hiker going the opposite direction who told us it was The Loch at the top. Oh well we thought, onward into Loch Vale it is! This side trail up to Loch Vale was actually the best part of the hike we thought. It was steeper, took us next to and at times over the river, up to a striking rock face, and up to the lake.
Here it was pretty exposed and windy, so we walked out on the frozen lake, looked around and took a few pictures, though the snow hid all but the roughest outlines of surrounding mountains, and then retreated back into the trees. On the way back we simply went back the way we had come. Since there had been at least a slight incline almost the entire way, the return trip was much faster than the hike in. All in all it was about a 6 mile trip.
Getting back to the car, we were ready to quickly hop in and get on the road. But that’s not how it worked out. We came across a guy who had been out snowshoeing with a woman for their first date. Having fallen behind on the trail and then fallen through the snow (and not only that but apparently getting stuck and having to work his way out), he turned around and went back to the trailhead to wait rather than getting lost trying to follow while not knowing the way. But several hours later when she had not returned and obviously very cold (his face was turning purple!), we helped him charge his phone and warm up while waiting. But after an hour or more of waiting with him, we called a ranger since the sun would be going down about an hour later. But wouldn’t you know it, as we were talking to a ranger she finally showed up. Thank goodness. But we’re still kind of baffled by it – why did he have no clue where they were going that day? Why did she get so far ahead of him that she didn’t see him fall and not stay close enough so he’d know which trail to take? Why did it take her hours to get back to the trailhead? Was she looking for him up there? Why did she not seem very concerned once they finally reconnected? How strange. Just lots of things that we feel are not good practices for snowshoeing, or any outdoor activity really. At least we were able to help.
Next time, I think we really will go to Mills Lake as planned. Here are some pictures: