It's hard to follow a trail embedded under feet of snow when there are not trail markers on trees. GPS, maps, and a compass can be helpful for sure, and I am sure we could have done it. We just did not want to bad enough I guess...and no regrets here.
Lake Ann looked like the place to camp when viewed on a map from Missouri. Reading trip reports seemed to validate our decision. It turned out that the snowpack and a couple of other realities changed our ultimate assessment.
Here's how things shook out. If you read our Day One Post , you know that though our original goal had been to backpack in the whole way on Day 1, we'd called it early when we were dead tired and came upon a beautiful high mountain meadow in which to camp. After a good night's rest and some breakfast, we decided we'd leave camp where it was for now, and take our daypacks, skis, and snowshoes and go up to Lake Ann and check it out and hopefully have some fun in the snow while we were at it.
Wilson, Daniel's awesome Aussie mix dog, had come up lame from the get-go. Did he hurt a paw jumping out of the truck onto a thorn? We didn't know, but he was gimpy at the start, but had recovered some on the way in. By morning, he seemed good to go.
Unfortunately, just a short distance in, despite Daniel treating his paw that had developed an abrasion aggressively with a salve designed to protect the paws of dogs sensitive to snow and ice, old Wilson was spilling quite a bit of bright red blood onto the white snow. At Daniel's insistence, David and I forged on trying to follow a route to Lake Ann.
The reality is, the valley up was one for which a trail is not really required if you had to get to Lake Ann. We could have hugged the far side all the way up and had little problem finding our way in. The area we were in, despite approaching tree line, was still covered with a healthy pine forest and blanketed in feet of snow. To make matters trickier, a stream deep enough to certainly overtop hiking boots, meandered through the trees, braiding and converging and braiding and converging...all with hidden snow bridges rotten enough to step through into water at any time. It was not long before we decided just doing some short hikes from camp was a great idea. We turned around to meet Daniel back at camp.
We retraced our steps, avoiding the pitfalls of a creek dunking, and found Daniel sitting just where we parted ways. After a quick explanation, we all decided that enjoying the scenery in the beautiful spot we found ourselves, was not such a bad idea. We spent a magnificent afternoon dozing in another meadow. I can think of no more of a relaxing way to spend a day.
I honestly don't recall how we spent our evening. I do know we all turned in early after a pretty darn good freeze dried dinner.