Being my first time into the National
Park in about three weeks, I was pretty excited about hitting the
trail. I really wasn't sure where I wanted to go. I wanted to avoid
using snowshoes, if at all possible, and I wanted to be near a lot
of water. So, Cub Lake popped into my mind. This is a very popular
trail, especially in the Summer months, because it is an easy trail,
fairly short, and takes you to a wonderful Lake. However, I enjoy
this trail more during the Spring and Fall months. There are less
people, a lot more water, and much more wildlife. This trail also
tends to be very hot and dusty in the Summer. So, I made up my mind
to head to Cub Lake.
I arrived at the trailhead at around
7:15 on April 15, strapped on my pack (with snowshoes attached,
just in case), and headed down the trail. It started out as a cool
morning, with small puddles wearing a thin layer of ice. But the
day warmed up nicely, and I was down to just a tee shirt by the
time I got back to the trailhead.
It was nice to see the Big Thompson
River with so much water flowing. I stopped at the first foot bridge
to watch all of the water rush underneath, and to just soak in the
beautiful morning. Up the trail about a quarter of a mile, some
of the seasonal lakes had already formed at the west end of Moraine
Park. I left the trail for a bit, and spent some time exploring
these large ponds. These, in the Summer, are usually bone dry, but
this time of year they are a gathering place for all kinds of wildlife.
Just in my short walk around these ponds, I saw Coyote, Elk, Ground
Squirrels, and many types of Birds.
Without the typical Winter winds,
it was a very still morning. You can see how smooth the surface
of these ponds are, providing for some great reflections of the
After taking a few minutes to enjoy
these ponds, I continued along the trail. With all of the snow we
have received in the past month, and all of the recent warm weather,
water was everywhere. The trails was often only mud, and Cub Creek
was running bank full. This, apparently, makes a great home for
ducks. I was surprised by the number of of duck I saw along the
trail. I must have seen 150, if not more. The two in the picture
didn't mind me being there, but most of the others were very skittish,
and got as far away from me, as fast as they could.
After watching the ducks for a while,
and snapping some more pictures, I continued up the trail. At this
point, the trail winds through some thick, forested areas. It was
a beautiful morning, and the sun was just creeping through the tree
tops, just beginning to light the forest floor. The light gave the
forest a very warm, and clean feeling. It always seems that way
to me though, once the snow begins to melt away for the season.
Up the trail another half mile, snow
still covered the ground, and was actually quite deep at times.
In some spots where you could see that people fell through, there
was still over three feet on the ground. It was packed down enough,
and cold enough, that I wasn't falling through, so my snowshoes
stayed on my back.
The rest of the trail passed uneventfully.
Once I got to Cub Lake, there were another thirty, or so, ducks
taking a nap on the thin layer of ice that remained on top. I sat
on a log, had a sip of water, and watched as a few of their friends
flew in, and everyone went for a cold swim. It was pretty funny
to watch. They all seemed to get overly excited, and happy, when
the others arrived.
On the trail back, I decided to take
a slight detour. I climbed up a ridge to the north of the trail,
to have a look down, onto the Fern Lake Trail. While I was wondering
around up there, I came upon the first Wildflowers of the season,
at least the first for me. I don't know exactly what kind they are.
The closest I could find is called the Snow Buttercup. These being
characterized by actually breaking through the snow into a full
bloom before any other flowers even begin to make their appearance.
So, I guess these could very well be Snow Buttercups. Seeing these
little flowers got me excited for this Summer. To me, there is not
much better than walking through the Tundra and enjoying the millions
of Wildflowers scattered around. This just fanned the flame. But,
we still have a couple of months before the snow melts off of the
high peaks, and it gets warm enough for everything to start growing
After taking a few photos of the
group of flowers, I headed back to the trailhead. This was the first
time I have ever hiked to Cub Lake without seeing another person
at all. It was a great first "hike" of the year, and I'm
ready for more.
Until next time.......