A quick snowshoe at Mt. Rainier

We closed out November with a quick snowshoe at Mt Rainier. After all these months of quarantine outdoor activities are the only constant we’ve been able to do. You have to get out of the house so you don’t lose you mind. The outdoors, in general, are a sanctuary for many, me included. The fresh air and peace just help to cleanse away all the stresses of the world

Mt. Rainier any day is gorgeous. We are so lucky to have that mountain in our backyard. There are multiple entrances to the National Park so depending on which hike you want to do, you are on a different side of Mt. Rainier. This time of year all the entrances are closed except Longmire which takes you up to Paradise. It’s called Paradise for a reason! From Paradise you can take the normal trails up Skyline or you can head out on a dedicated cross country skiing and snowshoeing road. It’s pretty flat so its a good spot for new snowshoers. I took my friend there for her first snowshoe. Unfortunately we did not have fresh snow so the trail was pretty crunchy. Honestly we could have walked the trail in spikes. To change is up, I took her off trail and into the forest. The snow was much deeper in the forest and was a little hilly. The short hills were a little challenging for her but she kept going.

We found a nice spot up on a hill for some lunch. You could see across the valley and Mt. Rainier was behind us. It was such a pretty day and for a weekend it wasn’t very crowded. Not sure how that happened!

I definitely want to go back and snowshoe up Skyline. On a clear day you have views of Mt. St Helens, Mt. Adams and Mt. Hood. It’s high enough that you can be above the clouds which is pretty cool.

One of my favorite parts of snowshoeing is I carry my JetBoil with me so when we have lunch we can have a hot beverage as well! Takes the edge off on a chilly day!

Any day on the trail is a great day!

Artist Point is like no other for snowshoe!

I always venture up to Mt Baker for a day of snowshoeing. I try to make it up in the Spring as well because we are usually blessed with bluebird sky days which make artist point even more breathtaking.

I checked the weather for December 4 and it was looking pretty good, so I decided to head up to Mt. Baker. We had not had any new snow for several days so the top layer of snow was pretty solid, but under that was a good eight inches of pure powder. Because it was early in the season I decided to take my snowboard with me so I can ride down. I have not done that before so I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect. For such a nice day I was surprised there weren’t more people up there. Quite a few people were on skis. I strapped by snowboard onto my backpack and wore my snowshoes up the trail. Surprisingly it was pretty easy to carry my snowboard. I bought it would be heavier than it was so that was a pleasant surprise.

We had bright blue skies and a full moon was over the Ridgeline! That was pretty cool. What I really like about Artist Point is there are so many trails to explore. You can really venture off in almost every direction. From the upper section you can see almost the entire snowshoeing area. The 360 views are really some of the best in the state.

I found a nice spot up top that was off to the side. It normally is a pretty quiet area, even when other people are around, but not this day. There was a group of 3-4 women across the ridge from me and one of them was so loud! Super loud talker with an obnoxious laugh. It was really detracting from the normal peace you get in the outdoors.

I have this one hill that I figured would be pretty nice to snowboard down. It crosses this meadow and heads downhill back to the main trail. This would be a nice ride and cut down on the amount of hiking time. I packed my snowshoes in my backpack and strapped into my board. I have to say in my mind it made total sense. In real life, it was a bit more challenging than I anticipated. For one the crust on top was not thick enough to ride on top so everytime I turned my board sank all the way down in the snow. The slope wasn’t steep enough to maintain enough speed to keep going in deep powder. On top of that the weight of my backpack was causing some serious issues with my center of gravity. About halfway down I just gave up. The trail was too skinny to snowboard on and there were too many people on the mountain now. So with the best of intentions, I actually just ended up carrying my snowboard more than anything. Don’t think I will do that again.

It was still a great day!

Lake Ingalls is an annual hike to see the larches!

We had some crazy weather for part of October here in the PNW so it messed up the usual “Larch March”. The trees were a little slow in turning colors, then all of a sudden they were done. We missed the prime larch sightings for our hike and really caught most after they were done for the year.

We decided Halloween was a good day to head over to Roslyn and hike the Lake Ingalls trail. A group of five of us went. My usual hiking buddy Todd joined us as he had never done this hike before but it has been on his list. The rest of our crew are fairly new to hiking so I knew this hike would push them quite a bit.

We had snow only about half the time and the amount of snow was pretty low and crappy quality. Feeling more like ice than snow. We used microspikes for the snow covered sections as it was pretty slippery. The weather was pretty good so we had some nice views along the way. Lake Ingalls isn’t a steep trail, but it does have a steady incline all the way to the saddle, then is pretty up and down to the lake.

Normally once you reach the pass you can look across the saddle and the meadow is full of larches in stunning bright yellow. Unfortunately this time many of the trees had already dropped their needles and the rest were a pretty dark yellow, which indicates the needles are falling soon. The trail isn’t as nice as when it is covered with deep fresh snow. Until you get to the lake. No matter what the lake is always stunning. It is surrounded by grey mountains and the water is a deep, dark blue.

We sat around the lake for a bit and had lunch. I was introduced to peanut butter whiskey. I have to admit it sounds terrible, but it tastes so good!! The brand is ScrewBall and I highly recommend it! It made the trek back a bit more bearable as my crew was tired, sore and a bit cranky!

Lake Valhalla for some snow!

I’ve managed to get behind on my blog again so here I am writing a few posts to get caught up! AGAIN!

We happened to get some nice early snow this year so I took a friend out for her first snow hike. It was nice fluffy snow but not too much that we needed snowshoes. Lake Valhalla is one of my favorite snow hikes. It’s not too long of a trail and their are really nice views along the way. After the first good snowfall, there is an easy boot path to follow up to the PCT and ultimately down to the lake. We had a nice sunny Fall day with fresh snow so it was the perfect day for this hike. This was my friend’s first snow hike so I didn’t want to pick one that would discourage her from future snow hikes.

Even though this hike starts really close to Highway 2, its surprising how quiet it is. You can’t hear the traffic on the highway. It’s just silence. That’s one of my favorite parts of snow hiking. Even though I hike year around, winter hiking is special. In she summer you hear the sounds of birds and a lot more people on the trails. In the winter there is much more solitude and stillness. The air is crisp. You only occasionally see other people. There are less birds but they try to steal your food more!

Sometimes it is a bit windy at the lake which chills the temperature pretty quick! We saw two guys that were camping at the lake. They looked so cold! Not really sure what they were thinking. It was less than 32 degrees and is dark from 4:30 pm until 8 AM. I would imagine is would be around 20 at night. Fires are not allowed at the lake so not sure how they kept warm. The one male was coming down to the lake to get some water to filter. He said his boots were still frozen. Judging by the time of day they had camped their the previous night and were planning to stay another night. Not my idea of a good time!

We only saw three other people on the way out to the lake, but on the way back we passed about twenty! Good thing we went early!

This is one hike I really want to do in the summer. I bet it is a great camping spot in the summer!

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