Maiden Peak Shelter winter backpacking

February 25-26, 2017.

My friend Kat was looking for an overnight adventure and I decided to join her. We hiked in to a place I’d been many times before: Maiden Peak Shelter. Although I’d been there several times for Thanksgiving, this would be my first February trip. I was excited to share this cool place with someone new and revisit this charming shelter.

We arrived at Gold Lake Sno-Park and packed up to go by 9:30 am. There was so much snow! I felt the weight of my heavy overnight pack on my back but was really psyched to do some snowshoeing. We crossed the highway and started up the approach road to the trail system.

Since we were on snowshoes, we had to put in our own tracks. Cross-country skiers had been through here, leaving their parallel lines in the deep snow. So we plodded ahead, one step at a time, through the heavy, fresh stuff. It was a lot of work.

The trail leading to the shelter had been tracked out by skiers, so we continued beside their line. At some point we lost the trail and began walking cross country, up some steep slopes, angling towards our destination. It took us 3 and a half hours to find it. What a relief! When we arrived, we unloaded and ate lunch.

After a nice rest break, we threw a few essentials into our much lighter packs and set out on the trail towards Maiden Peak. I knew we wouldn’t quite get to the top, but we both were looking to stretch our legs a bit before settling in for the night.

We hiked for a couple of hours in the silent woods. The skies were blue and the sun streamed through the treetops. A delightful day.

When we got back to the cabin, a new group had arrived. This cabin was a first-come, first-served kind of deal with no reservations. So I tried to push my past experiences aside and give this group a chance.


Of course they had a dog. Of course the dog was barking and nipping at us. Of course the dog’s owner said, “she’s never done that before!” Not once, but at least 10 times. Pro-tip, you can only use that line once. Then it doesn’t work anymore. I was pretty pissed off. Of course there was music and drinking and smoking and just basically being obnoxious humans. This seems to be what people do when they go to the woods. So much for a great day.

I went to bed just dreaming for sunrise and my chance to get out. In the morning, I felt rushed to pack. And in doing so I was careless about pouring boiling hot water into my water bladder and proceeded to pour it all over the back of my hand.

Sigh. There’s never a benefit to rushing. I set the pot down, took a breath and quickly reviewed what I knew about burns. I went outside and poured some cool water over the area and let the initial trauma settle down. Then, I covered it loosely with gauze to protect the burned skin and allow me to put a mitten on over my damaged hand. Stupid rushing. Stupid, stupid.

We had 5 miles of hiking to do in order to return to the car. In stark contrast from yesterday, the sky was completely overcast. We hiked out in a snowstorm, making pretty decent time, following the now well-tracked route to the road.

So while it wasn’t the most awesome trip, I learned some valuable lessons. First, never show up at a group shelter expecting solitude or polite behavior. Second, no matter what, TAKE YOUR TIME when performing camp chores. Working in a hurry almost always leads to mistakes, and mistakes cost time (and ego). It’s way more efficient to work more slowly and methodically in the long run. Plus, the job gets done better. And on the brighter side, I had a nice walk with Kat on both days. It wasn’t a total loss. And as I always say, a day in the woods is better than a day in the house!

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