Between getting 10-12 inches of snowpack out in the Snowy Range and being stuck inside with -5 degree temperatures all week, snowshoeing seemed like a good idea. We don’t ski, and with the weather forecast to be bright and sunny all weekend, it seemed like the perfect way to get outside in one of our favorite areas and beat the crowds.
Well, turns out that plowing the nordic trailheads isn’t exactly a priority. Even though we slept in, by the time we got to Centennial, both the Corner Mountain trailhead and the Little Laramie trailhead were still buried under 2-3 feet of snow. Since we knew the Little Laramie area better, we decided to try to get on the loop over on that side. We ended up having to park by the side of the road, hop the road barrier, and make our way to the trail.
That ended up being the easy part.
We ended up being only the second pair of folks on the trail, and before us had come cross-country skiiers. This meant that there was no packed trail yet and we had to do our best to follow the cross-country ski tracks to make our way. Did I mention that we had never gone snowshoeing before this weekend? Hiking in Yaktrax, yes, but not snowshoeing.
We picked a whopper of a weekend to try it out, apparently. We ended up deciding we’d go for about 45 minutes, then turn around. We ended up what we thought was the end of the loop, and realized that it would be faster to go back to the trailhead. However, between the snow and the poorly broken trail, we were severely turned around. If you look at the linked map (http://www.justtrails.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/Little-Laramie-Guide.pdf), we thought we were at 1 and 2, on the Lodgepole Loop. We were actually all the way over at 4 – on the River Loop.
I wish I had taken photos, but we were too busy just trying to get through the ordeal. My ankles were aching from trying to break trail and the husband kept sinking in up to his knees, even with snowshoes properly sized for his weight. He was moaning and groaning (with good reason!) and I was trying not to snap in frustration. When we finally saw the top of the North trailhead in the snow, we cheered. Even though we’d only made it to Sand Lake Road, the snowpack was so much easier to move through. As a couple on cross-country skis we met said, “we aren’t here to pack the trail – that’s what snowshoers are for!” They weren’t wrong, and we weren’t happy about it.
After over two hours of what the husband called the most physically demanding work he’d ever done, we finally made it back to the car. It was indeed physically exhausting, but I thought that mentally, it was even tougher. Considering how frustrating and tiring the whole experience was, I’m in no rush to do it again, but I know it was great mental training.
Plus, I don’t think pizza has ever tasted so good as it has post-snowshoe adventure. If you’re ever out in the Snowy Range in Southeast Wyoming, make sure you stop in Centennial at the Bear Tree (http://www.beartreetavernandcafe.com/) for a bite afterwards. Best food around, hands down.