When your first snowshoeing Saturday as a Colorado resident begins as a last-minute decision, there are bound to be a few lessons learned along the way.
Lesson one: Don’t let it be a last-minute decision.
I woke on Saturday morning with a plan to get in an 8-mile long run, but, I also woke with dread; I wanted a break (gasp), something different. Since I wasn’t currently training for a race, it was the perfect day to change the plan. For Blake, however, it was far from perfect. He expected to sleep in (supposedly, I had promised this). His moans and groans followed him out of bed and all the way to the snow-packed trail.
Lesson two: Don’t skimp on breakfast.
“We need to hurry before parking gets bad, so let’s quickly grab some toast,” I told Blake. That was one of the biggest mistakes of my life. By the time we reached the trailhead my stomach was shouting. Fruit snacks, granola bars and raisins will never take the place of a hearty meal — trust me on this. Every time we ascended a snowy hill, I dreamed of omelettes, pancakes and breakfast potatoes. When the trail sloped sideways in the middle of a steep hill and I fell, I saw a crispy, syrup-smothered piece of french toast dancing between the trees.
Lesson three: Dress for the weather, not the cold.
“I can’t do this. I’m sweating — dripping. Are you sweating?” I complained to Blake before we’d even made it 10 minutes down the trail. Snowshoeing always elicited the sounds of howling wind and teeth chattering uncontrollably, but, apparently, snowshoeing can also happen in 40-degree weather. While that temperature may sound like an Arctic chill to the average Floridian, once my heart was pounding and my weighted feet had to climb out of snowy mounds with every step, 40 degrees felt like an August heat wave. As sweat beaded down my back, I resisted the urge to strip down to my sport bra and long underwear.
* * *
Eldora, Colorado sits just past the town of Nederland, Colorado — not to be mistaken for the Netherlands. From Louisville, Colorado, I drove into the city of Boulder, Colorado, and took Colorado State Highway 119 up the mountain into town — an easy one-hour drive. Just past downtown Nederland, the road forks. Ignoring the line of cars veering left for the Eldora Ski Resort, I followed Eldora Avenue until the street ended at Hessie Road.
During the summer, Hessie Road allows for easy access to Hessie Trailhead, but in the winter, the road is not maintained. Parking along the road on Eldora Avenue, I snowshoed a mile on Hessie Road to Hessie Trailhead (Here, the road forks. Hessie Trailhead is to the left and Fourth of July Trailhead is to the right).
Lost Lake Trail is one of many trails accessible from Hessie Trailhead. Others include Woodland Lake Trail, King Lake Trail and Devil’s Thumb Trail. For a shorter, first-timer experience, I stayed on Lost Lake Trail, which is 5.5 miles round trip, including the walk to and from Hessie Trailhead along Hessie Road.
Reaching the end of Lost Lake Trail, I stared out on an open expanse of snow, circular in shape.
“So this is it? Where’s the lake?” I asked Blake.
“That’s why it’s called Lost Lake,” he said.
“Oh, that makes sense …” I thought.
The other couple — cross-country skiers, of course — looked at me with disdain.
Lesson four: Know if the final destination is lost or can be found.