Thunder Lake, 02/01/2003
We started hiking from the winter parking area of Wild Basin at 9:10, with our cross country skis attached to the sides of our backpacks, since there was very little snow on the road to the ranger station/warming hut. There were only 3 other cars in the parking area, which I assume was only because we arrived before the crowds, since the parking area is usually filled on weekends. It was an unnaturally warm day for the beginning of February, with the forecast for Denver being 70 degrees Fahrenheit. From the winter parking area it was about a mile down the road to the Wild Basin Trailhead. Hiking down the Wild Basin Trail, we took a right at the first trail junction which is a more direct route to Thunder Lake. This trail had no recent tracks on it, but we managed to follow it without much problem. Just beyond the next trail junction, which is the Thunder Lake Trail, we put our skis on, making the going both faster and easier. A little later, the snow started to stick to the skis. This required much exertion, having to walk with the skis instead of slide, making the skis much heavier, and the going very slow. While there was ample snow on the trail, it was much less than I recall a couple of years ago, when we skiied this trail. We reached Thunder Lake at 13:29, where we took a few pictures from the edge of the frozen lake. Looking up at the impassably snow packed Boulder-Grand Pass, it was hard to believe that we had hiked up there on our way to Mount Alice just last summer. We then sat down in front of the lakeside ranger cabin and had some water. We left Thunder Lake to begin the return trip at 13:53. Thankfully the snow soon became less sticky and we were able to actually ski, evidently because the temperature had dropped. We actually skiied for nearly the entire distance back to the Wild Basin Trailhead, taking our skis off a few times near the end due to rock and ice patches. We stopped at one point at a nice overlook for some wish sandwiches, nuts, and water. Returned to the truck at 17:12, for a total round trip time of 8 hours and 2 minutes, covering a total distance of about 15.6 miles.