Trailhead: Wild Basin Trailhead, RMNP (winter parking lot)
Distance: 6.25 miles (easy/moderate)
Logan and I tend to be better at cancelling plans than we are at making them. But I was determined to get outside this weekend even if it meant hiking in the falling snow and 50 mph gust winds (after checking that the conditions were safe regardless of the previous two statements). We set an alarm for 6:00 and were out the door by 7:00. Later than we probably would have liked, but on the road nonetheless.
Originally I had wanted to go to Lake Haiyaha, but I felt generally exhausted with the Bear Lake area of the park and wanted to try something different. After lots of research, I settled on Calypso Cascades, a 3.6 mile hike (in the summer) leading off from a trailhead we had never been to before. The winter trailhead was a little over a mile from the summer trailhead, which meant we had quite a bit of road walking to do before we even really started the hike, but it was so beautiful I didn't even mind! There wasn't quite enough snow to need snowshoes, so we had to create a makeshift holder out of giant rubber bands to strap mine to my backpack (Logan's fit inside his), and I figured the road walk would let me decide if that was going to work out for the entire hike. Thankfully, it worked beautifully!
After what felt like forever, we made it to the summer trailhead. At this point, we realized it was actually snowing, not just blowing snow that was already on the ground We took a quick pee break (surprisingly, the bathrooms were open...) and then got on the actual trail, so excited to see what it would be like, especially with the falling snow. This area of the park is absolutely stunning - the trees seemed taller and like a totally different color than in other areas. I kept stopping to make Logan look at specific trees that I was particularly fond of. We quickly reached Copeland Falls, but opted to not take the detour to look, instead continuing onwards.
All the sudden, we came across the most beautiful area of the entire hike. The trail went right through a grove of trees that were so tall and so vibrant we stopped and took pictures for almost 10 minutes. It was actually right here that I fell in love with the trail - it just feels so different from the other parts of Rocky and I was so giddy because I keep finding new things to love about my favorite place on earth.
The trail just kept getting more and more beautiful from there. About 4 tenths of a mile from the cascades, the snow got too deep and powdery to continue walking in just our boots (okay, honestly we probably could have kept going but there were some steep hillsides and I have 0 confidence in my ability to not fall over, so snowshoes it was). It made it so much easier and we flew up that last half mile or so!
We ate our snacks at the top, enjoying begin the only ones there. It was so strange to spend the day in RMNP and only pass 3 people our entire hike up...that would never happen in the Bear Lake area! I can't wait to explore this area in the summer, there are a lot of trails that I am itching to do... We eventually headed back down, keeping our snowshoes on because we knew that would help us go a lot faster. We took them off when we reached some uncovered rock (and then I promptly fell on my ass and had snow covering the entire lower half of my body...), and walked the remaining 2 miles in just our boots.
Find this adventure on The Outbound!