Sunday, March 16, 2008

Fall River Road Reservoir Snowshoe

Distance: 6 miles RT
Elevation: 9,580-10,810 ft
Elevation Gain: 1,230 ft

On our last two snowshoes to Summit County we have been stopped at the Eisenhower tunnel. We could not tell if there was an accident, hazardous cargo, or the whim of some whacked out CDOT employee causing this new phenomenon. The eastbound tunnel was closed then reopened, then closed, and then reopened etc. in a twenty-minute cycle designed to bring maximum road rage to all the cars and trucks clinging precipitously to the steep slope before the tunnel. We swore not to get stuck again and so opted for a trip on the eastern side of the divide. Trails on this side of the mountains have the advantage of avoiding traffic but have the disadvantage of less snow and more ice. Fall River Road was no exception.

The trail head starts at a sharp turn in the road around 6.8 miles, according to our guidebook, up Fall River Road. Note that this is the second sharp switchback and the distance, at least according our odometer was more like 8 miles. There is a large house right at this turn and cars parked willy-nilly along the road. Be advised that parking here is very limited. As it was one of the residents put a note on our car asking us not to park there at all. They should contact the publishers of “Snowshoeing Colorado” if they want deter folks from using this trail. Until it is unpublished, power hounds will continue to show up.

The trail is mostly in the trees with one mountain view around half way up at a switch back in the road. Presumably, you can see views of Mt. Bancroft and Mt. Perry but on this day, everything was enshrouded in clouds. At one point the trail seems to dead end into a wall of trees. At this point go to your left and head up through the trees some more. The trail is increasingly steep here and wind swept. There were quite a few areas of bare road and rock. You can tell by the twisted trees and ice sculptors at the reservoir itself that wind is not uncommon in this area. Lower down we had stripped down to our skivvies because of the warmth. By the time we reached the reservoir, we were fully loaded with goggles and facemasks. Lounging at the reservoir was not on the menu.

There did not appear to be any water in the reservoir and I have been told that the avalanche danger increases significantly beyond it so we turned around at this point. On a nice day, the peak behind the reservoir might have added to the view. On this day it just made it seem that much more cold.

Given the scarcity of views, the militant residents, and the limited snow, I am not sure I will do this trail again. Still, it was better than sitting on the couch eating Doritos.

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