I had intended for 2020 to be a strong year of snowshoeing. Regular readers known of my penchant for the mountains, hiking and biking in them in the summer, snowshoeing in the winter. The mountains are a magical, spiritual place that I must return to time and again. I’ve been snowshoeing with the Mountaineers for three years now and am right on the cusp of completing my Backcountry Snowshoeing badge. . While I don’t worry too much about these sorts certifications and such it does allow me to take part in any of the snowshoeing trips available with the Mountaineers. Eventually I would like to be able to lead trips which would allow me to easier set up ones closer to me and to orient them more around a contemplative mountain experience which is what I’m in for.
However for all my plans the universe threw the novel coronavirus at us and everything changed. By February it was becoming harder and harder to get on a trip; I had numerous trips cancel or empty of people. By early March you had to be able to social distance the whole trip (ie no carpools) By mid-March all events, trips and actives with the Mountaineers were canceled for the duration. I did manage to get in two trips, both of them in heavy wet snow and with few participants.
Trip 1: January 28th, 2020, Barclay Lake trailhead
This was a rainy, dark late January Day. There had been an ongoing sequence of cold days and warmer rainy days as storm after storm rolled into the Pacific NW. On the day of this trip there was another system in and just pouring rain. This led to hazardous driving and various problems with traffic and the like causing my carpool to arrive late in Monroe. Finally they arrived and we drove off Highway 2 toward Stephens Pass. The trailhead was off hwy 2 up a forest road but we soon came to the first of many downed trees. We weren’t able to drive within four, five miles of the trailhead and so we hiked up the road, clamoring over the many downed trees.
The snow was heavy and wet, but happily it wasn’t actively raining. It was foggy and grey most of the time, with a few breaks in the clouds revealing various peaks around us. Mostly though we hiked up this road in the crust, heavy snow, navigating around, over or through downed trees and branches. Eventually we made it to the start of the snowshoe: Barclay Lake trailhead. We had nearly gone five miles already at this point and what with the late start declared this our destination. We enjoyed lunch at the trailhead and then made our way back to where we had parked.
See all my photos here: Barclay Lake trailhead Snowshoe
Trip 2: March 5th, 2020 Surprise Creek
In the weeks leading up to this snowshoe I had been signed up for no less than three other trips. Each of them lost too many people, were canceled or I was unable to arrange a carpool. By early March few trips were filling up and WA was increasingly becoming more rand more careful around spreading the virus. So there was only three of us for this trip, once again a ways up Highway 2 toward Stephans Pass.
This was a lovely late winter day on a hike with plenty of snow. With only three of us, breaking paths was more tiring, but we were able to follow a cross country skier’s path for a good ways. At the end where the skiers had found their downhill, but well before Surprise Lake it was deep, heavy snow. Absolutely stunning day with crystal blue skies and a high wind blowing wispy clouds around, at time streaming over ridge lines. Surprise Peak, several sawtooth ridge lines and other peaks were around us as we excited the woods. We broke a path through deep snow to Surprise Creek but an easy crossing was not to be had. With it being lunchtime and miles to go, we declared Surprise Creek our destination. We enjoyed a lovely lunch in the snow on thick, billowing snow before retracing our steps back to where we had parked.
This was a great trip in great weather and with wonderful scenery. Do check out all of my photos from this trip: Surprise Creek Snowshoe.