We haven’t been up to The Loch (Loch Vale) since last winter, and we weren’t sure what to expect once we got into the Park.
Our first sign that there was lots of snow was a ranger at the Beaver Meadows entrance turning cars around that didn’t meet the minimum tread depth requirement for the icy and snowy roads. Plenty of disappointed faces doing U-turns and heading back towards town.
While the roads weren’t all that bad, it helped us score front-row parking at the Bear Lake trailhead – practically unheard of.

Thin Ice Possible

Thin Ice Possible
Mandatory warning signs for the hordes of tourists to just hit Bear Lake and then head back to the gift shop.


Meet The Locals

Meet The Locals
This little Chickaree makes a mess as he chows down on some pine cones, apparently mandatory behavior to be part of the Pine Squirrel family.


As we worked our way up the trail past Alberta Falls, the sky quickly clouded over and the snow started. Nice little flakes to add some wintry cheer.


All Piled Up

All Piled Up
It’s amazing just how much snow there is up here in the Glacier Gorge area of the Park.


Down the Icicles

Down the Icicles
Watching a couple of ice climbers having fun.


After the Mills Lake/Loch Vale trail split, the snow along the trail quickly became deeper and the snow falling became heavier. Once we could see the mountains surrounding the lake we knew we were in for a treat since it was a whiteout.


Whiteout Ahead

Whiteout Ahead at The Loch
This is where the wind started picking up and we had a whiteout ahead.


Stay On The Trail

Stay On The Trail
Colette tests the powder along the edge of the trail and gets more than she bargained for when her hiking pole sinks to the handle.


Sure enough, it was blowing like stink at the lake, and I quickly found a spot on the west side tucked in under a massive rock wall to stomp out a snow fort for lunch.


Wintry Blast

Wintry Blast
The wind really whips the snow and ice across Loch Vale.


Coming In Hot

Coming In Hot
Shelby makes it through the last few postholes to our lunch spot.


Final Push


Shelby and Tom make the final push to our lunch spot.


Even tucked into the wall, we would get the occasional lateral gust that would coat us all with powder.


Lunch With a View


Not much of a view this direction!


Lunchtime!

Lunchtime at The Loch!
All settled into our little snow fort out of the wind and ready for Tom to start cooking some lunch.


Spot the Little Hikers

Spot the Little Hikers at The Loch
All tucked in under this massive rock wall.


Colorful

Colorful hikers at The Loch
We’re all happy to be out of the wind for a bit!


Climbing Fun

Climbing Fun
I found a nice fun chimney to head up.


The wind and snow continued to pick up as we ate lunch, and we were glad that our return hike was with our back to the wind until we entered the heavier woods again!


Follow the Leader

Follow the Leader
Everybody uses my postholes to make their way out of the snow.


Blue Ice

Blue Ice on Loch Vale
The pockmarked surface of Loch Vale is pretty awesome to walk across.


Frozen in Time

Frozen in Time
Colette stops for a bit as a particularly nasty gust whips snow and ice against her.


Those Blasted Blasts!


We get pummeled on our exit.


Through the Woods

Through the Woods
Back into the forest where the wind and snow is more tolerable.


Lines

Lines
Pretty cool lines on this dead tree trunk.


As we made our way out of the Park, the skies began to clear and by the time we made it home a whopping 9 miles from the Park entrance – clear blue sky. That’s crazy mountain weather…


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