my crazy guy snowshoe route on mazama ridge (no wampas are going to eat me!)
I went snowshoeing at Mt. Rainier this morning. In fact, I was the very first one at the gate by Longmire Inn (they don’t open the upper half of the road presumably until the snowplow has checked the road over). I picked my nose in the Inn’s lobby for half an hour and part of me thought about getting a big stack of pancakes but I knew as soon as I ordered my food, the big gates would swing open and I’d be stuck there in the dining room all by myself waiting for a plate of crummy cardboard-like National Park Service Concessionaire batter patties. We stayed at the Longmire Inn about ten years ago and the food was okay, it reminded me of the first year Diana and I were married and we ate Hamburger Helper every other night.
You positively could not ask for a more beautiful morning. For the day I walked six miles in all, I spent all my time up on Mazama Ridge. The wind was ferocious on the ridge in the morning and I thought my gloves or lens cap would fly out of my hands. Things got off to a devastatingly rocky start when I fell down while trying to take a picture and the inside of my camera bag literally (very literally) filled up with snow. And then I dropped my circular polarizer in the snow and had to dig for it like a starving Wampa desperate for Tauntaun entrails. After that I walked a quarter of a mile and stopped to take a picture and had the horrible realization I’d dropped my lens cap a quarter of a mile back.
As fit to be tied as I was, I recovered from my idiocy to have a nice day tromping in the snow. I was the first one to go off in the direction I took, so I had a surprising amount of quietude (I didn’t see my first human being until four hours into my trek). I knew the way back would be a different story with Mazama Ridge being in such close proximity to Paradise, so I detoured into quiet bowls and glades. It was extremely hard work breaking trail through such soft snow, but I enjoyed it immensely. I made the little loops you see in this picture to throw off any Wampas that might have caught my scent.
On the way back, I talked to three really nice backcountry skiers about Mazama Ridge and where I’d been. I was pleasantly surprised at how undisdainfully they regarded me through all of my probing questions. Usually skiers regard snowshoers as lowly dung amoeba. One of the skiers even handed me his paper map, even though I insisted I had one in my backpack. I didn’t realize until the very end they were NPS rangers. Boy, they must have thought I was a really big idiot. Ah well.
It was very nice to be up on Rainier. This was my first snowshoe since last April……