It was 6am as I watched the weather forecast with reports snow was already coming down near Arapaho National Forest. I finished a bowl of Starbucks oatmeal and sipped a venti dark roast coffee. I had been in Denver since Tuesday for business meetings and was flying back to St Louis tonight at 8pm. My goal this morning was to get out in the woods, strap on my snowshoes, enjoy the snow, clean air, and hike up to Gray’s Peak Trailhead. Perhaps further depending on the weather and my reserve.
I pulled into the gravel lot at the start of Forest Road 189 a few minutes before 8am. The snow was really coming down. Visibility was nonexistent. I sat in my rental, a Hyundai Sonata listening to XM Satellite BPM drinking Gatorade and wondering if I should head out or wait for a break in the weather. I decided to hang for a bit and about an hour later the sun broke through the clouds offering a window for me to gear-up and start the trek.
The first quarter mile up Forest Road was slick with tightly packed snow. My boots where gripping so no need to put on my snowshoes. Snow continued to fall with a steady wind. I decided after about 30 minutes to put on my snowshoes, which made the going a bit easier speeding up my pace. The closer I got to the trailhead the deeper the snow. If venturing off to the shoulder or into the woods it was easily 3 feet in some areas, at least that’s what I experienced.
It remained cloudy, continued to snow and fairly windy the entire hike to Gray’s Trailhead. I passed a guy on the way down and we exchanged a good morning and nice day for a walk. Once I reached the trailhead I soaked in the views, fueled up, drank some Gatorade and used the “facilities.” I was pleasantly surprised to find the men’s room (outhouse) open, stocked and clean. Thank You National Park Forest Rangers.
I was tempted to hike further up the trail toward Gray’s Peak. It pained me to turn around, but I knew today was not the day for an attempt at the summit. On my return trip the clouds broke a bit allowing for better views of the peaks. I was about a mile and a half from the parking area when I passed a young couple smiling and enjoying the day as they headed up the road. A few minutes later I came upon two ladies, likely in their 70’s standing in the sun enjoying some string cheese and sipping from brightly colored insulated thermoses.
I arrived back at my car after a wonderfully relaxing and beautiful trek. I did roughly 6 miles total time of 4 hours which include many stops to take pictures, explore a bit off the road and soak up the killer views. If you’re looking for a fun way to spend the morning I recommend heading up Forest Road 189 toward Gray’s Peak especially if it’s snowing.
PS: Since I am a newbie and also not a resident of Colorado, please shoot me an email or respond if you recognize the peaks in the pictures I have posted. Thanks!
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):