Before this hike I inquired on conditions in the area. Basically what I got was, not much snow above treeline, hard packed trail below, snowshoes no required... I really wish I would have brought them.
nice view on the way up
empty lot at longs peak trailhead!
The trail WAS as described, and I didn't post hole once the entire way up.
Visibility wasn't great as it was lightly snowing the entire time, but winds weren't too bad, temps probably in 20's so wasn't too bad.
On the way up stumbled upon a flock of snow flavored ptarmigans! Wouldn't have even seen them if they hadn't moved. Something I've wanted to see for years (seen plenty of the granite flavored ones in the summer, but never seen them in the winter). Those birds are hard core.
ptarmigans are in this picture too, can you see them?
MLW from near granite pass
From the top of MLW had so-so views of the steep face of Longs, key hole, etc.
Longs from MLW
boulder field and key hole
On the way back took some shortcuts. Up above treeline was no problem what so ever. Heading into the trees I realized I was off the packed trail but I wasn't post holing and I knew I would intercept the main trail so I wasn't too worried. I really should have back tracked or had snow shoes on me (though it would have sucked even with shoes the way I went). The bad part was less than a 1/2 mile long, mostly downhill, but it took forever, basically post holing with every step. I even tried sliding down the steep parts but the snow was too fluffy. I could day lesson learned, but I really already knew better. So lesson re-learned: a longer packed trail is pretty much always easier than an unpacked shorter one. And if there's even a chance you're going to need snow shoes, bring 'em!
My GPS Tracks on Google Maps (made from a .GPX file upload):
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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