Who: Caroline Kelleher ’21, Kiana Tsao ’20, unspecified friend, and, yours truly, me.
When: Block Break
What: Ice Ice Baby
The ranger we talked to about the weather on the mountain had possibly never actually been to that mountain before. Caroline Kelleher ’21, two friends, and I were headed to New Mexico to spend our Block Break backpacking, and although we expected slightly warmer temperatures than Colorado Springs, Kiana Tsao ’20 wisely called the park ranger to ask if there would be snow at the peak.
This conversation was very unexciting. The ranger told Tsao, “Yeah, there might be some snow.” This was not the most helpful of replies, so Tsao asked if we should pack snowshoes, to which the ranger said, “Yeah, it couldn’t hurt. Do you want me to check the forecast for you?” This was still not very helpful — given that internet exists and we could check the forecast ourselves — but it led us to believe that we might simply find “some snow.” Armed with that vague on-the-ground weather information, we rented snowshoes from the Outdoor Recreation Center and drove down to the trailhead. Since we were really roughing it, we obviously stopped for snacks at approximately every single gas station, and spent several hours messing around in Santa Fe when I decided I needed a matcha latte. Super hardcore.
Once I stopped being high-maintenance, we made it to the trailhead ready to be outdoorsy and encounter only “some snow.” Our plan was to do a three-day, two-night loop in Carson National Forest, stopping at a small, pretty body of water called Heart Lake on the first day.
As we started our trek in shorts and t-shirts, “some snow” was becoming increasingly deep and unavoidable. Having left the snowshoes in the car because it was kind of warm out and there was only “some snow near the peak,” we plunged through it with our bare legs as we walked. At first it was fun because it involved a lot of squealing, but as it got darker, we worried about our slow pace. We turned back to camp closer to the car, from which we would retrieve the snowshoes in the morning.
It took us a while to get to bed after we realized that none of us had ever put up a bear bag before. Obviously, this part has nothing to do with the ranger, but we just kind of hurled the bag of food at a tree for like 45 minutes before it finally landed on a branch, which was cool minus the fact that said branch was right next to the tent.
With snowshoes, the next day was more successful, and we made rapid progress toward Heart Lake. The trail wasn’t visible under the ever-growing base of snow, and we thought we were lost until Tsao spotted an almost-buried sign pointing us to the lake — which we could only read after we dug it out with our trowel. Excited to finally see this lake, we chattered about dunking our heads or taking a skinny dip to celebrate our arrival. At long last, we reached it: a large snow clearing underneath which there might’ve been a lake, but who knows (nobody went skinny dipping). Only prepared for “some snow” and not, like, camping on it, we huddled together in one tent for the night.
That ranger clearly just kind of glanced out the window or something when we inquired about the weather, but now we know that we are more outdoorsy than we originally thought.
Takeaway: We get it. You go to CC.