So you noted my mention of snow eh?! Well if you didn't there was a ton of it.
We woke up that morning and attempted to drive down to the trail head. Attempted because there was a snow drift across the road and our wee truck doesn't have four wheel drive. So we hopped out and walked to the trailhead to see if it was possible to do.
Some snow, lots of water but it looked doable- the guidebook had said that there was no bridge over the first stream crossing and they had just put one in! We figured that we should at least head back and see what it was like further in.
We headed back to the truck to pack all of our junk into our backpacks. ALL of it. We didn't have a scale with us but I think we packed about 20 pounds of food, and a ton of gear that we didn't need.
So off we went. Ready to conquer the known world, or at least this part of it. Our goal was to get up to the Aero Lakes and then maybe bag a peak. We cross over the bridge that had been seemingly built just for us and enter into our winter wonderland. There was enough gaps between the drifts to see the trail and from some snow mapping that Aaron had looked at he figured the worst snow was in the first few miles. So we gotta at least attempt it, right?!
Our first non-bridge stream crossing got my feet soaked so I hung my wet socks on the back of my pack to dry and changed into the dry ones. Aaron escaped but, as he was leading, if he got too close to a rock or tree he'd sink in to his hip so his socks were wet too.
The snow kept getting deeper and the gaps between piles longer. The trail would just completely disappear and because the snow was so high it covered all the trail markings. So I would stand in one spot and Aaron would scout around me until he found it. We had stopped in one such spot and realized, as we were standing talking about where the stupid trail was, that there was a stream coming out of our mound of snow and that we were on a snow bridge.
Down a steep steep hill where we were using our trekking poles to maintain our balance we lost the trail again, only this time no matter how much scouting we did we couldn't find anything, it was just buried way too deep. We figured we had gone this far we should keep on at least to the lake. So we then ditched the whole finding the trail thing. We knew there was a cliff to our left and a stream to our right and there was another path down near the stream that headed to our first lake ahead of us. So Aaron took our bearings and we started going as the crow flies to the stream. At this point I took my first hip deep plunge into the snow and it really, really scared me. I was shaking so bad. At that point I just wanted to be at home. (Aaron didn't realize that I had fallen in and was extremely calloused to my cries for pity, and told me to buck up or something.) We found a frozen path that must have been the stream and I stared imagining that we were walking down a roaring river with a thin shell of snow on top. Obviously we were going to die.
Then it started raining. Pouring in fact. We hunkered down under a tree and pulled out the rain fly for shelter and discussed our options. We made a rather quick decision to turn back. It had taken us four hours to go just over a mile down the "trail". If we lost our trail going back out it could take the same amount of time and it was getting dark. Our feet were both sore and wet and we were miserable. Up and at 'em! You never saw two people move so fast through snow with such heavy packs.
About 30 minutes into our backward trek the rain stopped and about 40 minutes in we breathed a sigh of relief as we hit the first spot we lost the trail. It took us an hour to get back to the trail head compared with the four hours to get in. We were drenched from head to toe and most of the stuff in Aaron's pack was damp. (My pack was still dry inside- maybe because it's newer the rain guard stuff wasn't worn??). So we draped all our stuff over the truck and on tree stumps to dry out and I made us a lovely super. Stir fry with frozen veggies, japanese noodles and a package of seasoning. Next time I'll read the package. It was disgusting. I had used what should have done for six servings on two servings of food. Oh well, there's always beef jerky, dried fruit, trail mix and monster cookies!