Mileage: 10.86 miles/17.48 km
Elevation Gain: 1,015 ft/309 m
I was surprised to find that through the night, I slept warmly enough and that there was no intrusion of water into my tent. That is what actual equipment - hiking tent, inflatable materials, and sleeping bag rated down to 15 F will do for you.
Also, when you go to bed at 1900, you wake up early. We were packed up and on the trail by 0630.
Re-crossing the bridge over the Lake Vernon outlet, we started our ascent. We had no idea how long the snow would go, only that at some point it would end. My feet were immediately cold and wet, but otherwise I was fine.
Hiking through snow for Day 2 was largely the same as Day 1: Slow, exhausting. Following all trails, we veered back and forth across streams - no "through the water" crossings, but I made one or two branches/rocks in streams ventures.
Once or twice I post holed up to my thigh. It was a briefly terrifying experience - I can understand where the danger might come in. It also meant the snow was getting less deep. Additionally once or twice we crossed snow bridges across streams. They were easily 4 feet thick, but a failure there could have made for a very bad day.
And then, we started to hit sections of actual earth without snow.
A short time later, the snow simply disappeared. I do not think I have seen a better example of a snow line. My estimate is that we spent at least 9 miles/14.9 km on snow, or almost a third of the trip.
The descent down - thankfully all down at this point - was pleasant. The day heated up again and my feet finally began to dry out.
Within an hour or so, the reservoir came back into view.
As we descended, we ran into two or three groups of hikers going up. They were fairly impressed that we had completed the entire loop.
The last two miles or so rejoined the main trail we had left on two days ago. We passed day hikers on their way to the falls.
It was hard for me to believe that, five hours previous, I had been standing on six feet of snow.