Winter Camping

I don’t winter camp. I love the idea in theory but in practice the long hours of darkness cooped up inside a tent just put me off it. Get me a hut with a woodburning stove and I’ll walk/ski/snowshoe miles back to it.

Living this close to the mountains it kills me that prime backpacking season is 3, maybe 4 months max. After a few weeks of coaxing I finally convinced K that we should try it. She’s from the desert, this is probably the last thing she ever saw herself doing.

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At the Moffat Tunnel trailhead , the gateway to the James Peak Wilderness, there are some camping options within a mile of the trailhead. Seems reasonable, close enough to escape if we can’t handle it but far enough away to make it feel worth it.

We headed in midday and found a nice spot between some pines and packed down a nice spot for the tent. After everything was all set up we snowshoed around the area and found a side trail leading up to a frozen waterfall.

About 4pm the sun set in our little valley and we got into the tent. Only 15 hours until the next ray of light…

The temps dropped to the teens and the wind howled through the trees but we stayed nice and cozy in the tent armed with books, crosswords and some warming stout.

I’d do it again, but I think I’d still take the hut and woodburning stove.

If you go:

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Wild Basin Snowshoe

Wild Basin is a great place to hike. It’s close, it’s beautiful, and there are a plethora of trails. In fact it’s been almost exactly a year since last time we were here. Not feeling very motivated to pick a trail ahead of time we did a “let’s start hiking and see where we go” kind of day.

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We started by walking down the road from the trailhead to the Finch Lake Cutoff trail. The first part of this trail only had a few inches of snow. As we went up the snow slowly got deeper. Then, just after 9,000ft, it all of a sudden increased another foot. Definitely time to strap on the snowshoes. Being the first hikers on the trail was magical and we took our time. Once we got to the intersection of the Finch Lake/Pear Lake and Allenspark trail the snow became packed down. We stopped here for lunch and a cup of tea and enjoyed the views towards the continental divide. After we followed the Finch Lake/Pear Lake trail to the Wild Basin trail and back out to the car.

If you go