Thursday, January 30, 2020

Hike of the Week: Snowshoeing at Mount Rainier

attempted action usie ... actually took a screenshot!
Last January we were registered for a snowshoe trip to Mount Rainier National Park that had to be cancelled because of the government shutdown. REI rallied (of course!) and we spent a really fun day out at Lanham Lake instead. We enjoyed it so much that we bought heavily discounted snowshoes in the end-of-season REI Garage Sale!

I saw that the trip was being offered again for 2020 and signed Wil and I up as a Christmas present. Saturday morning we reported bright and early to the Issaquah REI, ready for fun despite the nasty weather forecast.

I love REI trips -- we just need to show up and someone else deals with transportation, planning/revising the route based on conditions, guiding, and instruction, as well as providing a lunch. And what a lunch! We stopped en route at the completely essential Cottage Bakery in Eatonville for pastries and to collect our lunches (bagel sandwiches, chips, and a great cookie).

Then we arrived at Narada Falls, where we strapped on our gaiters and snowshoes, lengthened our poles, and had a little chat about snowshoes.

Then we immediately climbed a very steep path out of the parking lot. It was only later that I realized it was steep because we had to climb up to get on top of the deep, deep snow.

Our group of 12 hiked out to the Reflection Lakes, stopping here and there to talk about snow, snow safety, and snowshoe techniques. And on we clacked and crunched.

The weather was pretty great -- we'd actually seen the mountain on our drive up, and though we didn't have a lot of views of her, because we were mainly in the trees, we stayed dry all day with only two very tiny snow flurries. Glorious!

We alternated between trail that had been broken and the deep, wet snow. We carefully followed the signs pointing us to "Reflection Lakes Avoiding Avalanche Chute". Because, well, duh.

We got to the lake and had it mostly to ourselves.

Rachel marked out a "do not cross this" line so that we didn't wander out onto the ice...

While we took a break alternating between eating lunch, shooing away the aggressive little birds, and just relaxing.

hello... I'd quite like to steal your lunch
All too soon it was time to head back. We caught the tiniest sliver of the Mountain through the trees -- we'd been so lucky with the weather!

We decided to cut the trail by descending down a steep powder slope, which was really scary and hard for me. I just don't trust the poles and snowshoes enough. But I made it down, only falling once. Rachel, one of our guides, hung out with me while I inched down the hill. She also took a fine photo of the two of us!

The final scary bit was that last hill to the parking lot. On the way out I mentioned to Rachel that my plan was to take my snowshoes off and just sit my way down it. When we actually reached it, Richard (our other guide) told everyone to stretch out, take off their snowshoes, and walk carefully down the snow steps he dug out. It was only at the bottom that I noticed that it was higher than the roof of the nearby "Comfort Station". STEEP.

Happy and tired, we all piled back into the van for the ride home -- another great day out on our snowshoes!

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