Christmas Eve Snowshoeing at Royal Gorge

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Had so much fun last week, and we had a storm since, I headed back up to Royal Gorge Cross Country Ski area for more snowshoeing. What I didn’t expect, the snow on the trees from last week and the storm melted already by the time I got back up. Plenty on the ground, with beautiful blue skies, I started out down the Yuba Trail. I had to make a few of my own tracks though in some large mounds of untouched powder…well, untouched until I got there.

I did test my next step each time I trotted out into the ungroomed snow. (Prod ahead with your poles to make sure that there are no holes or branches you could fall into or get your foot caught on) Once back on the groomed portion, I tried to pick up my pace a bit and run in my snowshoes. A couple of trips to start out, but got the form and the pace quickly. With the altitude it didn’t last long before resuming my walking pace. Always takes me a few miles to get my legs and my wind before I’m good to go.

From Yuba, I picked up Sidewinder, went down Fast Draw to Hawk’s Run (both snowshoe trails, but had not been groomed yet, so it was a little slow going but great to be in the powder!) Finally back to Sidewinder, I took a right on Sleigh Ride, a large wide open area, well groomed that follows the power lines down the hill.

Arriving at a crossroads for several trails, (Palisade, Stagecoach, Snow Mountain and Hi Jinx) I took a short jog to the right then quick left to pick up the Maintenance Road. It had crusted over after the Snowcat was over it, so it was a little crunchy to walk on. It did provide some beautiful, untouched areas with up close views of small streams flowing through the snow and under the road. I was the only one around, so I took my time about getting back on track to the groomed areas. I will get an earlier jump on the trails next time so I can get down Stage Coach, a long and scenic trail passing close to Deer Lake.

Back on Palisade Trail now, I walked as far as Killy’s Cruise, taking me back to Lyle’s Lookout where I was the week before. This time, the views were more beautiful as the skies were clear and blue with no impending storm clouds. Someone had made a small snowman I called”Lyle” and had to take a selfie of us before leaving. The sun was getting lower in the sky pretty early now, with sunset at 16:41. It was already 15:00 (3 pm), and time for me to start making tracks for the Summit Station. It was getting pretty chilly and crusty in the shaded areas of the trail. Met some nice folks to chat with at Palisade and Rodney’s Run.

There was a nice, snow-covered pile of logs that was very picturesque and I had to take the photo opportunity while I had it. Palisade took me all the way back to the Summit Station, but it was just too nice to leave yet. I took off my snowshoes and sat in a big mound of snow and ate my crunchy apple, and sipped my cold bottle of carrot juice. The view, breathing in the cold fresh air and the solitude of being back in the mountains reminded me of several of the many sayings of John Muir…

“Another glorious Sierra day in which one seems to be dissolved and absorbed and sent pulsing onward we know not where. Life seems neither long nor short, and we take no more heed to save time or make haste than do the trees and stars. This is true freedom, a good practical sort of immortality.”
― John Muir, My First Summer in the Sierra

“Going to the mountains is going home.”
― John Muir

See you soon on my next adventure in the Tahoe Wilderness

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