S240: Mitchell Lake Overnighter

With my on-call rotation looming next weekend, and some lovely wisdom teeth surgery coming up the weekend after (happy, happy, joy, joy), I wanted to get out while I could.

A quick sub-24 overnighter to a local place would do the trick.

Braniard Lake is excessively busy, even in the winter. The trick is to be willing to go beyond the usual Nordic ski and snowshoe areas and push to the wilderness boundary. And being a backpacking trip, I had the luxury of starting when most people are finishing and getting back to my car before most of the crowds showed up. 🙂

The total mileage was only about five miles one way, but winter mile are different from summer miles. On skis, with a full pack, and being solo, it feels more of an outdoor outing versus these same trails in the summer.

The cold, the blustery wind and the light of the winter sun gives these type of outings an embracing feel.

The snow was not bad for early December. I had to pick my way through some light snow cover with some rocks, but overall I was able to make good time.

A good amount of fatbike tracks. I suspect I’ll see more fatbikes in this area this coming season.

Old sign. As fewer people Nordic ski, this little piece of etiquette is becoming less well-known. Always “interesting”. 🙂

I made my way up the trail and briefly connected to the road. As expected, the area near Brainard Lake proper lived up to its nickname of the “Windian Peaks”

My way was made up the road and met up with a side trail.  I was hoping that Brainard Cabin was open. It was still somewhat early even for December (2:30 PM) and I would not have minded killing time with a hot drink , a warm fire and the ambience of this historic cabin.  Being early in the season, it did not look like any group was hosting it for the weekend. Not unexpected…

Not longer after, the wilderness boundary was passed. A peaceful and quiet area at this time of the year.

Soon, Mitchell Lake was reached. A suitable campsite  was found; sheltered in the trees. Camp was set up.

I was warm and snug, but I  could not resist taking some snaps of the sun setting in winter.

The wind was fierce outside of the shelter of the trees. But I think it was worth taking the photos.

The inviting coziness of the tent was calling.

Dark comes early this time of year. But a warm meal, a candle lantern and a book made for a relaxing evening.

The morning came uneventfully.

All was packed up and I was back to the trailhead by mid-morning.

The early finish was taken advantage of.  I went to a coffee shop in the nearby town of “Ned”.

There are few pleasure in life as good as simply enjoying a leisurely cup of coffee on a Sunday morning.

The last drop of coffee was sipped.

I headed home.

It was not a long trip. But it was relaxing.

I hope to have more of these trips this coming winter.

We’ll see how it goes.

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8 years ago

I really like that last picture, it looks cold and warm at the same time 🙂

Devin Quince
Devin Quince
8 years ago

I really like the write up. I also like to head up to either Lost Lake out of the Hessie TH or a few miles up from the trailhead at the bottom of the Rollins Pass road.