2023 has been an emotionally charged year for us, for a multitude of reasons. And the culmination of those situations significantly impacted our winter travels. With that said, we only embarked on two winter trips in 2023, both of which were to Grand Lake. Even though that is all we did, those trips possessed elements of extreme physical challenge. As our regular followers know, I (Stella) have a proclivity for getting buried in the snow, and these trips were certainly no exception. Hopefully next winter we will be back on track with lots of exciting trips to write about!
On the first trip to Grand Lake, we were snowshoeing in the Bowen/Baker area inside Rocky Mountain National Park when a moose suddenly jumped out of the trees about 10 yards directly in front of us. And, we had seen an overabundance of moose droppings and bedding areas by the trees, which led us to believe there were several moose in this particular area. After a bit of contemplation, we decided to climb up the steep side of the mountain to get off the trail.
As we climbed, I went to maneuver around a tree and lost my balance. I fell, face first like a pancake, into deep snow. Had I not fallen with my head pointing straight down the side of the mountain, I likely would have uncontrollably rolled all the way down, and I was lucky to not have been impaled by something buried under the snow. What saved my life was falling in that exact direction, because the front end of my show shoes were deeply embedded in the snow, keeping me grounded. It took a bit of time to get unburied, and I had to be extremely careful getting up so I didn’t go tumbling. On the other day in Grand Lake, we broke trail through soft, deep powder in the Kawuneeche Valley with our backcountry skis and had a great time!
On our second trip to Grand Lake, we snowshoed on the East River Trail to the end of Shadow Mountain Lake and then broke trail on the Ranger Meadows Trail. But at one point, we could not determine where the trail continued, so we cut across the meadow, where the snow was deep and hard-packed. Each step felt like lifting a ton of bricks, as the wind gusts tried knocking us over. We had to tread as carefully as possible to avoid punching down deep into the snow, which happened frequently anyway. When we had finally reached the tree line on the other side of the meadow, I unexpectedly fell into a sinkhole by a tree and became buried in snow up to my chest, with the front of my snowshoes hooked on a branch several feet down.
Yes, that took a long time to dig out of, and (stupidly) we didn’t have our shovel with us. The rest of the trek back to the East River Trail was extremely challenging as we maneuvered our way under trees, over trees, around boulders, etc., all while trying to avoid sinkholes as best we could. A true backcountry trek – just the way we prefer it!
With our skis and snowshoes now stored in the garage, we eagerly look forward to the Spring and Summer trips that we have planned, perhaps the most interesting of which is the cruise next week. I have an extreme fear of the ocean, and said that I would never go on a cruise! Never! Yet, here we are booked on Royal Caribbean’s Wonder of the Seas, the largest cruise ship in the world, to date. I decided that I want to overcome my fear of rogue waves and the scary creatures hidden within the depths of the “Big Blue.”
On the cruise, we have a handful of active excursions planned on/around the islands: snorkeling, kayaking, biking and hiking. I am terrified about snorkeling and kayaking in the ocean, and it weighs heavily on my mind each day. For snorkeling, Larry might need to just push me off the boat, as I am scared about this the most – sometimes to the point of near panic. I asked if we could attach a rope from the boat to my life vest so that I don’t float away in a sudden current. He said, “no.” And what if a large shark suddenly appears? What if something attacks my kayak from down below? My fear list is quite extensive, and the youtube clips of things like this happening to other people are very fresh in my conscience…
We plan to create youtube video(s) of our activities on and off the Wonder of the Seas as well as write a detailed post of everything we did. We also purchased a few items for the cruise that we will write reviews for. NOTE: The purpose/focus of the video(s) and the post will NOT be to review the Wonder of the Seas cruise ship (i.e. the food, the cabin, the service, etc.); there are plenty of those.
Please stay tuned to learn about the cruise and our upcoming adventures!
WHERE IS BASECAMP @ GRAND LAKE HEADED NEXT?
- April 23 – 30: 7 Night Eastern Royal Caribbean Cruise on Wonder of the Seas: Bahamas, St. Maarten and St. Thomas
- May 26 – 30: Custer State Park, SD
- June 24 – July 2: Stanley and Sun Valley, ID
- July 20 – 24: Flaming Gorge, UT
- August 5 – 13: South Lake Tahoe, CA
SOME OF THE GEAR USED: