I was getting tired after just 4 hours of pretty aggressive skiing on Saturday, and I didn't want to trash my legs for a run on Sunday, so I split from the ski area, had a late lunch and drove up to Monarch Lake to see if there was anything interesting to take pictures of (this would involve a bit of hiking). I'd been there in the summer for the ridiculously scenic Crater Lake outing, and I was in the area so why not check it out in the winter?
There was a winter gate, which was closed and added about 3/4 mile of road to the walk. Shortly after getting on the approach road, I heard snowmobile in spite of the "no snowmobiles" sign, and it turned out to be a policeman on patrol. That packed the snow down nicely for me, so I walked on its tracks.
There was a second gate at the actual parking lot with a bunch of dos and don'ts. I'm always up for getting trampled by a moose so I pushed onward:
I've only seen two since I've been out here, a cow and baby at dusk, which moved too quickly into the woods to get a photo (too dark anyway). Other runners have seen them, and they're definitely out here.
The view of the mountains from the lake was minimal, but was still nice:
And winter walks are always nice no matter what. There was evidence of some recent boots and XC ski tracks but they soon gave way to older boot and dog paw prints. I didn't see another soul after the cop.
This is the river below Monarch Lake, from above:
Once the sun went down below a ridge, the road was much darker even though sunset was a good 45 minutes away.
The return on the dirt road along the lake is slow going (25 mph), long and in this case, icy and slushy. I wouldn't have driven faster even if it were allowed. Below is a view from alongside the road, with some snowmobile tracks visible on the ice from the fishermen.
The sun set about the time I got back to the main road. This is the view back south towards Winter Park, in which I could see the night skiing lights at Sol Vista twinkling to the left (too small for the photo though):
The drive back at 7 PM was the smoothest driving of the season. Probably because it was 65 degrees in Denver and many chose to do warm weather stuff...