Monday, February 4, 2013

Winter's here!

We LOVE winter around here! My ski blog gets a lot more attention when the trails are covered in snow - naturally. If you like winter mountain pictures, go here. Otherwise, we're into winter access time, and there are several easy day hikes for the intrepid winter recreationist.

Here are a few ideas: 

The Lamoille Canyon Road is closed at the normal spot just past Pete's Corner. However, for some reason they're not plowing it this year and so whether it's passable or not is entirely a different question. You can reliably get (in a passenger car) to the Ruby Dome Ranch gate just below the mouth of the canyon. If you have 4WD you can generally get to the first pull-out and the trailhead for the (under construction) Lamoille - Talbot section of the Secret-Lamoille Trail. Or, of course, you can hike up the road. A lot of people do.

Depending on how melt-out is going, you can get up to Right Fork and the trail that takes off behind the Lion's Camp. Keep in mind that this is avalanche terrain and that Right Fork canyon is very prone to avalanches, particularly along the climber's right wall. The trail sticks to the climber's left side of the canyon, but that doesn't mean that you needn't be concerned about slides. Be very confident that you know what you're doing if you decide to head up past the Lion's Camp. Otherwise, there are plenty of snow-covered creekside roads down in the bottom that are safe for casual exploration.

You can also hike up Hennen Canyon. That's an enjoyable winter snowshoe trip. Again, like any canyon up there, stay out if it's wind loaded and the avy danger is high. You can always tool around Spring Creek Campground for a more casual play-day.

If there's plenty of snow on the Lamoille Valley floor, you can head to the Soldier Canyon access road.  Directions are here.  The gate will be locked and you'll have to leave your car on the Lower Lamoille Road, but the snowy access road makes for a nice snowshoe and/or XC ski. It eventually goes six miles up Soldier Canyon, so there's lots of terrain to explore if the conditions are good and you're up for it. Enjoy, and do the snow dance!