O’Neill Column: Taking in the views from Mountain View Trail
On the morning of Saturday, Feb. 20, I went snowshoeing as part of a program with City of Craig Parks and Recreation Department, and the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Program, where we climbed up the Mountain View Trail near the northeast access point of Elkhead Reservoir State Park.
The experience was my first in Craig — or anywhere else for that matter— and it was a good experience. I was a little nervous going in with the number of miles (a little bit over 2.5 miles) daunting. While it was hard, it was also a very rewarding experience when I did reach the top and looked out at the landscape and knew that I accomplished the hike.
While I am not a huge winter sport person, let alone a snowshoer, I enjoyed the hike, especially with the people that I hiked with. I was surprised about how well the snowshoes grabbed onto the snow and what the difference probably would be if I had not been wearing the snowshoe, instead of just my normal snow boots.
The people that I hiked with were good people. Surprisingly, I even hiked with my neighbor, which was an entertaining surprise when I pulled up to the meeting spot at the Northeast Access Point of Elkhead Reservoir State Park. I got a late start to the climb due to interviewing CPW Senior Park Ranger Mark Lehman, so David Morris — one of the guides on the hike — and I got to know each other, which made the trip all the more enjoyable.
I enjoyed the snowshoeing though, after adjusting to the somewhat weird feel of the snowshoes at the very beginning. It was not that hard either, which surprised me.
I didn’t sink in the snow; my feet did not collapse into the snow in the same way that they would have if I was only wearing my Timberland boots. In what might be obvious to some but not to me, a born and bred city slicker, I really felt like it was somewhat easier to hike in the snow shoes, which crushed the snow below my feet and made walking along the path easier. It also didn’t allow my feet to slip off the snow on some of the uneven points, especially at the beginning and end of the hike.
The path was clear as Morris and his nephew, Craig Parks and Recreation recreation director Travis Sanford, hiked the path on Feb. 19, clearing the path for the eight or so total people that participated in the hike.
Once we reached the top of the trail, the views from the top were amazing. Seeing the ranches across the way and the ice fishermen down below hoping to catch dinner was surreal.
I arrived in Northwest Colorado in early November and this was one of the first times that I have explored all that the local landscape has to offer. I think the beauty will really come out when the weather clears up. So, instead of ice fisherman on the lake, there will be fisherman and other summer sport enthusiasts at the park.
As a city kid, I climbed up the rocks when I was a kid near my apartment and I could see over to New Jersey, and I could see into the playground down below. That view from my childhood pails in comparison to the views I saw Saturday. The best views where I’m from in New York City come from apartments in sky scrapers. Don’t get me wrong: those are beautiful views of a place that is one of my favorite places on earth.
But, the fact that I was outside, breathing the fresh air, getting a view all the way up was truly amazing. The name of the trail — Mountain View Trail — was very accurate; all around, the only thing the eye could see with few exceptions was the mountain ranges.
Every time I go up to the mountains, I am struck by the beauty and I really understand why people around town have told me that they moved to Craig at various points because they were struck by the beauty of the landscape.
The hike definitely made me want to try it again when the weather warms up in the spring. It was also really good exercise as I worked up a pretty good sweat by the time I got down the mountain from the hike up and the walk down.
It was an enjoyable experience even if I did slip on some ice…in the parking lot.
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