A 15 minute hike from the top of the Disney Lift at Sugarbowl leaves us on the summit of Crow's Nest Peak, with a view of the peaks to the south and the majestic royal gorge of the American River. The volcanic spires emerge all along the ridge from here south reminding me of stoic sentinels watching over us as we follow the ridge and the powdery snow to the west. This brief hike takes us from the hubbub of the resort to the quiet and peaceful sidecountry between Sugarbowl and Royal Gorge. Once past the quick turn-offs others have taken to return to the in-bounds skiing we are breaking trail along with the coyotes along the ridge. Large windrows formed along the ridge by the recent storm gusts keep us on our toes in this flat light as we loose altitude along the ridge on our way west. There are a handful of amazing stunted 6' diameter juniper trees dotting the ridge. We pass by greeting them as the true mountaineers. The wind has died almost entirely and it is quiet up here on the ridge. We march slowly, trying the read the snow signs for a story of underlying features, gale, sunshine, forest animal forays, fresh precipitation and cold nights. Occasional tracks cross our path, and at the low point on the ridge, a coyote has used the ski trail groomed by others to make easy passage over the mountain. I wonder why he has traveled up this high and can only imagine that he likes the view as much as we do. Skins are ripped of at the summit of Mt. Rowton (Lola's Lookout), and we float downhill all the way to Ice Lakes Lodge through the light north powder. In under 2 hours we have completed the whole traverse from the base of the Disney lift to the parking lot pick-up by our dedicated shuttle driver, Diane.
|From 10Feb10 RoyalGorge Side Country|