Glacier Gorge, 04/13/2003

With today's forecast warm and sunny, we decided to ski up Glacier Gorge. Arriving at the Glacier Gorge trailhead parking area at about 10:30, we were surprised that there were a number of parking spaces still available. Usually this small parking area just below the larger Bear Lake parking area fills up very quickly on weekend mornings. Evidently the unseasonably warm weather and sunshine kept people at lower altitudes where they could hike instead of snowshoe or ski. Another surprise was the very deep snow already at the trailhead in spite of the recent near record breaking warmth. As we skied up the Glacier Gorge Trail, the snow was wet, but did not stick to the skis. We found Alberta Falls to be completely covered by snow and ice. Continuing further up, there were a number of steep sections with very deep snow which reminded me that today's avalanche forecast was for wet slab releases during the warmth of the afternoon. The way finally leveled out, and we were soon at the intersection of the Loch Vale and Mills Lake trails. We went left to Mills Lake. Arriving at the lake, we found it completely frozen over, with the debris of a small avalanche littering its western side on the southern end. We took some pictures then continued on to the next lake, and went a little beyond that, before turning around and stopping for a break on a large boulder at the southern end of the last lake. We had "wish sandwiches", soynuts and water, and discussed some physics before beginning our return at about 12:30. Just after the intersection of the Loch Vale and Mills Lake trails we decided to turn left onto the Lake Haiyaha Trail, thinking it might be a way to bypass the steeper parts of the Glacier Gorge trail. This way turned out to be much better, indeed eliminating the steep sections of the first part of the Glacier Gorge Trail. In spite of this, the soft wet snow, allowing the ski poles to sink deep, resulted in Stefan snapping both his ski poles before we made it back. From the Lake Haiyaha Trail we turned right onto an unofficial bypass trail which eventually brought us back onto the Glacier Gorge Trail not far from the trailhead. We returned to the truck at about 15:10.

Glacier Gorge Area Topo Map