Winter Hiking In The Southern Rockies cover

Winter Hiking In The Southern Rockies

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Winter in the Southern Rockies can be cold and snowy at times, but I have found that winter weather rarely gets in the way of getting out for a hike here. I still try to get a hike in every day during the winter and I find it to have its own unique attributes, benefits, and considerations.
I have collected up several bits of poetry and prose related to hiking in the winter that ring with me and they follow below interspersed with photos from some of my hikes through the winter.


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Daily Hike

Daily Hike

Winter in the Southern Rockies can be cold and snowy at times, but I have found that winter weather rarely gets in the way of getting out for a hike here. I still try to get a hike in every day during the winter and I find it to have its own unique attributes, benefits, and considerations.

Quieter

Quieter

Leaving the house you quickly notice that it is quieter in the winter. There are fewer people out-and-about to be making noise I guess. Or maybe it has something to do with the earmuffs. My favorite kind of winter day is when I head down a trail and it is so quiet and still that I could swear I can hear the snowflakes touching down as they fall. The quiet can be glorious.

Light Through The Trees

Light Through The Trees

Other winter mornings the sun is streaming through the trees, the surface of the fallen snow is glittering, and the birds are chirping. Depending on the angle of the sun, the trees can appear as black vertical shadows or alternately as richly colored cinnamon sticks in contrast with the pure white snow.

Crisp And Clean

Crisp And Clean

The air is crisp and clean. The pathway is pure and white if you have the good fortune to be the first person down the trail after a snowfall. In the Southern Rockies, the air temperature is typically quite pleasant even in the depth of the winter.

Yak Tracks

Yak Traks are traction devices that stretch over the hiking boots. I always carry a pair in the winter just in case.

Yak Tracks

I have collected up several bits of poetry and prose related to hiking in the winter that ring with me and they follow below interspersed with photos from some of my hikes through the winter. But first, a few words about practicalities. I always carry what I generically refer to as “yak-tracs” during the winter. These are inexpensive traction enhancers that stretch over the boots and come in a variety of brands and formats.

Snowshoes

Snowshoes can be another useful aid after a big snow

Snowshoes

A few times each winter, I’m glad I have snowshoes to use in deeper snow.

Privacy

Privacy

“There is a privacy about it which no other season gives you …..

In spring, summer and fall people sort of have an open season on each other;

only in the winter, in the country, can you have longer, quiet stretches when you can savor belonging to yourself.”

Ruth Stout

Hiking Through The Beautiful Scenes

Hiking Through The Beautiful Scenes

I hope to go hiking today

To behold all the beautiful scenes

The emerald trees

The sparkling water

And the evergreens

As the lifeless trees die

Seedlings grow in their places

Developing fresh growth becomes

Tall narrow trees

Sparkling water shimmers in streams

Beautiful trees sway in the wind

Hiking to the summit

Breathtaking scenery surrounds me

Emelia Lamie

Proverb

Proverb

“No snowflake ever falls in the wrong place.”

— Zen proverb

Velvet Shoes

Velvet Shoes

Let us walk in the white snow

In a soundless space;

With footsteps quiet and slow,

At a tranquil pace,

Under veils of white lace.

I shall go shod in silk,

And you in wool,

White as white cow’s milk,

More beautiful

Than the breast of a gull.

We shall walk through the still town

In a windless peace;

We shall step upon white down,

Upon silver fleece,

Upon softer than these.

We shall walk in velvet shoes:

Wherever we go

Silence will fall like dews

On white silence below.

We shall walk in the snow.

Elinor Wylie

Elk

Elk

Elk come down from the high mountains in the Winter to graze at lower altitudes … here at about 7500 feet

Shadows

The silence of walking in a gentle snowfall is particularly beguiling

Shadows

Shadows of winter weave through the sleeping sentinels.

A tapestry of light painting trails and illuminating those leaves yet to succumb to the gravity of autumn.

I feel the hope of spring within the silent slumber of my forest friends.

Their beauty forever etched on my Heart in the embrace of winter’s Love.

Lee Hiller

Bygone Times

Bygone Times

An artifact of homesteader times … the homesteaders generally lived here just during summers

Winter Warmth

Winter Warmth

Piles of snow beneath my boots

chilly winds blowing everywhere

snow keeps mounting on the posts

on the windows and on the roads

shovels outside,

soups inside

hot and rich,

chicken and corn

coming back from all the work

this is what I look for

the warm chestnuts,

the cracking fire

this is my winter warmth

By “Sam”

Ravens

Ravens

Two ravens contemplate the snowy landscape

Pride

Pride

“The cold was our pride, the snow was our beauty. It fell and fell, lacing day and night together in a milky haze, making everything quieter as it fell, so that winter seemed to partake of religion in a way no other season did, hushed, solemn.”

– Patricia Hampl

Mountains

Mountains

I see snow-capped tops that rise from the clouds,

I see green pine trees that blow in the wind,

This is what it’s like when you’re on a mountain.

The cold snow that freezes you at touch,

The rough rock side that makes it whole,

This is what it’s like when you’re on a mountain.

Hear the birds chirping as you make your way to the top,

Hear the shaking of the tree branches as you pass by,

This is what it’s like to be on a mountain.

Taste the sweet berries that grow in the bushes,

If the bears and birds don’t get them first,

This is what it’s like to be on a mountain.

Smell the fresh air as you climb up the sides,

Smell the pine needles that rise overhead,

That’s what it’s like when you’re on a mountain.

Ben Mathias

Rhythm

Rhythm

“The rhythm of walking generates a kind of rhythm of thinking, and the passage through a landscape echoes or stimulates the passage through a series of thoughts. The creates an odd consonance between internal and external passage, one that suggests that the mind is also a landscape of sorts and that walking is one way to traverse it. A new thought often seems like a feature of the landscape that was there all along, as though thinking were traveling rather than making.”

Rebecca Solnit, Wanderlust: A History of Walking

The Author

The Author

The author on a show shoe hike

Sunset

Sunset

Winter sunset on the Sangre de Cristo mountains