Sunday, December 31, 2017

High Hut Snowshoe

For New Year's Eve we did and afternoon hike/snowshoe up to High Hut (part of the Mount Tahoma Trail Association near Ashford) to watch the sunset and moonrise, enjoy a leisurely dinner and snowshoe back down under the light of the moon.
Although the upper SnoPark area was open, we found the road very icy after about 1/4 mile, so opted to park in the lower lot, figuring the road would be even icier when we drove out later in the evening. The first part of the road was snow/ice free for less than 1/4 mile. We wore our microspikes on the way up, staying well off to the side to not create post holes in the skiers path.
 This hike is mainly in the forest, but there are several small streams along the road.
 There are a couple of places where we had partial views of Mt Rainier.
 More snow as we gained elevation.
 About 1/4 - 1/2 mile after the trail splits off from the way to SnowBowl Hut, we could see it on a ridge with Mt Adams in the distance.
 Mt Rainier to the northeast from High Hut
Beautiful views of Rainier with the moon rising
To the north we could see clouds covering the Puget Sound area and the Olympic Mountains in the far distance
 Pano views to the south included the Goat Rocks, Mt Adams behind a pointy peak, Mt Hood and Mt St Helens. We had nice colors as the sun was setting.

Alpenglow on Mt Rainier

 Was wonderful to warm up in the hut and enjoy our dinner and drinks with a view of Mt Rainier

As we began our snowshoe in the evening, we could see the city lights of Ashford below and Tacoma in the far distance
 all my night pictures are grainy, taken with my phone

Silhouette of Mount Rainier in the dark
 Leaving High Hut under the moon light

 There was enough light reflecting on the snow, that we didn't need to use our headlamps until we were on the last bit of road with very little snow.
 Moon through the tree branches
and we saw a moon dog!

Friday, December 22, 2017

Copper Creek Hut Snowshoe

 We headed up to the Copper Creek Hut near Ashford, for a day of snow showing. This "trail" is along an old logging road, that is groomed by the Mount Tahoma Trail Association. There are been very little to no snow only a couple of days before. We were able to drive up and park at the Upper SnoPark (although it was very icy and dangerous by the time we were to drive out). Today's snowshoe was 8.8 miles round trip with 1,040 ft of elevation gain.
It was possible to go up to the hut without snowshoes, but we decided to put them on about 0.75 mile up the trail.
The elevation gain is very mild over this length of the road, with some areas steeper than others. There are several side roads/trails to choose from and the signage is very good on this main road.

 The snow covered trees are beautiful.
We stayed to the side of the road, leaving the center for skiers.
There were tracks to follow where a group of snowshoers had gone up the night before.
 It started to snow while we were snowshoeing.
 Was wonderful to enter the hut and warm up while eating our lunch.
 Icicles hanging from the eaves
 No distant views today, but that helped me to focus on the nearby beauty all around.
 Lots more snow as we snowshoed back to the car.

 The snow would quickly cover the tracks of those who came up after us and we would make new tracks.

Close to 6+" of new snow in some places along the trail.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Hummocks and Boundary Trail at Mt St Helens

 We decided to hike up to Loowit Viewpoint at Mt St Helens on this Winter Solstice Day, starting at the Hummocks Trail and continuing on Boundary Trail 1, as the road to Johnston Ridge is closed at the turn off for the Hummocks Trail for the season.
We ended up taking a short cut at the end, bypassing the last section that crosses the steep ridge. We also stopped on the ridge above the Loowit Viewpoint, having a hike of at least 7 miles roundtrip with 1,500 ft of gain.
 We were the first hikers on the trail since the last snowfall. The new snow was 6 - 12" deep, but we did not need snowshoes today.
 Gorgeous Winter Solstice
 We took the 0.9 mile section of the Hummocks Trail (the east side of the loop). We watched the sun rise over Mt St Helens
 most of the ponds in the Hummocks area had ice on them.
 Larger ponds, were ice free

 We left the Hummocks Trail where Boundary Trail 1 begins.
 With the sun glaring over Mt St Helens, I was able to focus on the other features in the area. A beautiful winter landscape,
 a winter wonderland.
 After 1/2 mile or so along the Boundary Trail, the trail begins to climb.
The snow coverage was light enough, that for "most" of the way, we could see where the trail was under the son.
 We used our trail apps to double check our location where the snow was deeper.
 There were lots of fresh elk tracks in the snow.
Looking down towards the Toutle River Valley

 As the sun rose, we had better views of the crater on Mt St Helens
 Up the ridge we saw 3 elk.
Instead of following where the trail was under the snow along the steep side of the ridge, we decided to follow some elk tracks going up over the ridge. Pano from near the crest of the hill to the west of the Loowit Viewpoint: Coldwater Peak left of center and Mt St Helens to the right.
 Wide angle view from the top of this hill: Coldwater Peak, closed road to Johnston Observatory, Mt Adams (with lenticular cloud above), Mt St Helens. [The Loowit Viewpoint is out of this photo, would be on the left and down the hillside a short ways]

Interesting patterns in the snow from the wind and freezing temperatures.

 As we returned down the Boundary Trail, we had fabulous views of Mt St Helens as the sun moved further to the west.
 At the same time, darker clouds were coming in from the coast.
 Yellow glow as the sun begins it's descent on this Winter Solstice Day.
 View of Coldwater Lake below us
 We took our time on the way down, as the lighting was wonderful on the mountain.
Pano showing the blue sky over Mt St Helens and darkening clouds over the ridge and Toutle River Valley to the south and west

 fun watching the sun go down as we continue our hike down.
 So many beautiful winter scenes along this trail,
 loving the changing light,
 a perfect winter day!
 Back on the Hummocks Trail, the setting sun lights up the ice patterns on a pond.

Our last view of Mt St Helens today.