Winter hiking offers the bundled hiker the opportunity for solitude and challenge. The solitude comes from the lack of other intrepid souls and the snow dampening any ambient sound. The depth of the snow and unsure footing creates a scenario that can be challenging, especially when breaking trail on a steep slope. So, we took the Wallman Trail in the Rattlesnake National Recreation, which crosses a high between the Rattlesnake Creek drainage and Spring Gulch. We switch-backed up the steep face of the slope as snow squalls descend in waves with alternating glimpses of the Sun. Thanks to a great pair of boots, my feet stayed toasty and dry, my face on other hand was dripping with sweat as a considerable effort was required on my part to make the ridge. Once over the ridge, we descended into Spring Gulch was is home to several ancient apple trees (evidence of a past homestead that as long ago disappeared).
The real highlight for me as a bio-geek was multitudes of Snow fleas (Hypogastrura nivicola) crawling on the snow near Rattlesnake Creek. Snow fleas are beyond interesting to me. Snow fleas are a species of dark blue springtail. They evolved to have an anti-freeze-like protein that allows them to exist in sub-zero environments. They actually seem to enjoy the warm Sun shining on the frozen ground.