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December 4, 2016

Well, I’m 0-2 in trying to reach Henderson Mine in the winter…bummer! I went last spring with David, but we never found it despite being above treeline and walking around. This time, Diana, Jim and I made an attempt. I really thought we’d be able to reach it this time.

We started up Butler Gulch trail on packed snow through a forest of evergreens whose branches were adorned in snow. The sun poked through fast moving clouds as we climbed a somewhat steep grade. We followed the swithbacks at a slow steady pace until we started to leave the treeline.

The wind picked up dramatically and snow whipped across the trail stinging our faces. Our hands instantly turned cold despite heavy gloves and mittens, so we broke out hand warmers. We continued in the open space for only a short while more as we suddenly began sinking to our knees.

At this point, none of us wanted to sit down to strap on our snow shoes as we knew we’d only get colder, especially our hands and feet. In addition, our camelback hoses were freezing up. If we didn’t drink water about every five minutes, we were working hard to get ice out of our bite piece. The final straw for me was, one of the many off-leash dogs on the trail jumped up on me while getting ice and snow all over my camera lens. I tried in vain to remove the ice enough for clear photos, but that turned out to be an excercise in futility. It was time to turn around!

In the summer-time, we rarely ever turn around. We feel like there isn’t much of an excuse not to reach our destination (unless it is lightning). In the winter, however, we don’t mind trying another time. It isn’t worth getting hypothermia! Covered in four layers of clothes, none of us were particularly warm, and it seemed like we’d only get colder with thick, gray clouds enveloping the surrounding peaks.

I’m glad we threw in the towel as by the end of the hike, we walked through light snow. At least we got outside in the beautiful mountains and got some exercise. Our four to five mile hike felt like eight, but overall it was a very pretty scene. ETB

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