20 miles of hiking • 5000' elevation gain •
My friend Kevin and I intended to do the Herman / Benson loop as a one night backpack, bagging Chinidere Mountain on day one. I've been out that way five times now and have always been turned back due to snow or weather conditions. On this trip, it was both. The hike up to and a bit past the Herman Creek crossing was snow free, but then the snow started. Once we were on the steep climb up onto the Tomlike Mountain ridge, we were postholing waist deep and it was snowing and gray.
With no possibility of a view from the top, and miles upon miles of postholing ahead of us on the Benson, we turned back less than a mile from Chinidere. We plunge stepped down the hill to Mud Lake where we ate lunch while it snowed, the wind gusted, and the trees left piles of slush on our heads.
Once we were out of the snow, the sun came out and we had a wonderfully casual hike back to the car. We opted not to camp, but getting turned back made for one hell of a dayhike with full packs.