Frozen Lakes in Rocky Mountain National Park

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My soul NEEDS adventure….it’s been that way since I was a little human. In the summer of 1970, I taught myself how to ride a bike – I was 5 years old. I’d ride like the wind to a lake about 2 miles from our house. It felt like 20 miles to my kid brain but I loved every second of it.

A few weekends ago, an adventure was much needed so I drove up to Rocky Mountain National Park and did a solo hike up to Black Lake. Black Lake is tough in the summer, it’s equally tough in the winter. The trail is just shy of 10 miles out and back with about 1600 ft of elevation gain. Lots and lots of snow and a few frozen lakes were on the menu.

As with most National Parks, the trails are really well marked, however, when it snows people like to get off trail which makes it sometimes tough to follow the right path. I STILL have not learned my lesson to download the AllTrails app to help with the guiding. Not sure why I have such a mental block with this. Geez. I didn’t get lost per se, but did follow the wrong tracks more than once.

I do love snowshoeing but in all honesty, micro-spikes are the preferred method to navigate the snow. So, the backpack was loaded with micro-spikes, pb&js, peanuts, a liter of water, extra clothes, hand warmers, poles, a headlamp, extra battery pack, etc. Snowshoes were also strapped to the back, just in case. Almost all of the 10 essentials, but not quite. I probably should have had some sort of a trowel in case I had to go #2 (I knew it was going to be a long day – lol).

I got to the Glacier Gorge trailhead around 11:00. That is LATE. Usually the best time to arrive at a popular Colorado trailhead is around 8:00 am (or earlier) assuming you want a parking spot. I ended up sitting in Big Mama (my white beast of a truck) for about 20 minutes, waiting for the early-birds to finish up their hikes. That wasn’t too awful, podcasts are useful to pass the time. The one I listened to had to do with the Green River Killer in the Pacific Northwest. This might not have been the best choice when hiking alone, but true crime is my jam.

Everyone on the trail was super friendly. Minus the punk teenager who almost mowed me over on his back country skis. Yep, the almost ‘boomer’ (me) called him an asshole. I’m sure the eye rolls were rich.

Thought I’d share a few photos from that day. It was a bluebird, windy day. Pretty stunning.

The trail was nice and packed down for the first couple of miles.

I got to the first frozen lake (Mills) and realized the short cut to continue the trail to Black was to cross it on foot. This concept was terrifying to me. I watched these guys pass first.

These two peeps ended up being my muses for the day. Here they are hiking in the shadow of some large boulders. The closer we got to our destination, the snow got deeper and deeper and the wind, stronger and stronger. Snowshoes were probably needed, but all 3 of us remained stubborn with spikes.

It took about 2.5 hours to get to Black. It was so windy only a silly selfie was taken. I see a fat lip, not sure what that’s about. Looks like I’ve had some sort of injection. That’s the lake behind me, covered in so much snow, you couldn’t really appreciate its beauty.

The way down was incredible – most people were back to their cars. It felt as though I had the park all to myself. My 2 muses remained at Black. No clue what they did up there with all the wind. I can’t imagine eating lunch in 35 mile per hour winds was too satisfying.

Crossing that frozen lake again by myself was not my favorite part of the day. (I don’t think I’ll ever do that again.) By this time, the Green River Killer was revealed. What a freak show (and very sad) story.

The sun started to slowly disappear as the day progressed. It was so peaceful.

The vistas were amazing.

It was an incredible day. My cup was completely filled by this outing. It was just what I needed.

Cheers to little adventures – may we all have them in whatever form suits us.

…i choose this…



  1. This looks so adventurous! I’d be worried about falling into the ice or slipping off the side of a trail (and dying)! I can’t imagine how you were able to hike this alone but good for you!!! I’m too chicken lol

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  2. Good for you. I’m too frightened of mishaps to do much solo adventuring (except of course that cross country bike trip… not sure WHAT I was thinking there). I use Gaia GPS instead of AllTrails. Gaia seemed to have more of our state forest covered. Regardless. having an app offers a great deal of confidence when a screwup will be hard to recover from. BTW, we will not be anywhere near Bend on our Oregon vacation this summer. Maybe I’ll see you in 8 or 9 years when I get back out there. 😉

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  3. I can understand feeling nervous about crossing a frozen lake. And a podcast about the Green River Killer could only make the fear worse. But with risk comes reward, and it looks like you were rewarded with some beautiful scenery.

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    1. The GRK story was nuts. During COVID I think I may have OD’d on true crime. Now I look sideways at any solo man sitting in his car in a parking lot. 👀 👀. It was a beautiful day. Much needed, thanks for reading Tippy!

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  4. OH! OH! OH! I was right there with you! An Incredible hike to the lake and what heavenly blue skies that accompanied you. I too love an adventure but I don’t think I could have done this one alone. But if I’m with you… all is good.
    I grew up on a lake and now its home to us during the summer… LAKES are fabulous… even when they are frozen. Scary at times… but look at what you discovered by crossing it. Ah-mazing!
    We use GAIA. out here in the desert. and like it a bit better then ALL TRAILS.
    Well… where are we off to next? I’ll pack my snow shoes, wait I have to fly to our LakeHouse in Pennsylvania and get them so… please wait for me.

    By the way… We have an adventure in the desert soon so I hope to share that with you and all of BlogLand sooooon!
    Thanks for the fun…

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  5. I am with you on the micro spikes. We just came back from an 8 k (5 miles) hike on frozen trails. Our spikes kept us shiny side up. The kamikaze backcountry skier was an asshole. There is such a thing as trail etiquette and I am always amazed at how few weekend hikers have a clue on what it is. Nothing beats a blue sky winter hike day, no matter how cold it is. Thanks for sharing. Allan

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  6. Such wonderful winter photos, Pam 🙂 Whether shrouded in snow, dripping with icicles or speckled with frost, some destinations truly come to life when temperatures plummet and Rocky Mountain National Park is one such place! Thanks for sharing and have a good day 🙂 Aiva xx

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  7. This looks like such a beautiful hike in the winter with all the snow. It does look a bit nerve wracking to cut across the frozen lake though. I probably would have waited for someone else to go across it first before attempting it myself as well. And hey, it’s better to be over prepared for a winter hike than underprepared!

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  8. A good solo hike ~ especially in gorgeous Colorado ~ is so awesome, but I’m not sure I would have done the lake crossing alone either! At least you had the guinea pig/muse hikers on the way out, and you could assume all was still good on the way back. RMNP is going to be a staple for me this summer, I hope!

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  9. I haven’t seen a frozen lake in my life yet though living here in New Zealand and have families too in Switzerland but because I hardly go to snowy places in winter so there you go! haha! Maybe one day on our next winter adventure! Beautiful photos! Enjoy!

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  10. Fabulous ! And breath-taking ! That frozen lake pic is stunning ! I would have crossed only in good company (yours !) but never on my own ! Way too scared of falling through !
    Sounds like a veryyyy nice solo adventure near home ; had one myself last weekend (first time snowshoeing in ages !) and it felt soon invigorating !
    Enjoy the trail, sister ! Xoxoxo

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  11. Propos to you for taking a hike where all those “just in case” items need to be in the backpack. No “little adventure” this (even though you describe it so at the end of the post). Also, your podcast story brought a smile because my daughter had a similar experience. Driving through South Carolina in the wee hours of the morning she was listening to the bizarre story of the Alex Murdaugh shootings, which took place – of course – in South Carolina.

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