OR – Crater Lake NP . . . a January spring tease

With the government shutdown, Crater Lake closed it’s doors from December 23, 2018 through January 27, 2019. When they welcomed back visitors on the 28th, I wanted to be there to not only support our rangers but to experience the beauty under pristine conditions. 

With a late start after four hours of traveling, I didn’t quite get the pristine conditions I’d hoped to experience. The area near parking tends to become a mine field of deep boot holes created by those not wearing snowshoes or skis. My plan was to camp on the rim, something that is only allowed during the winter when the roads are closed. Well as is typical for me Plan A becomes Plan B or C or  . . . The park changed their parking policy for backcountry campers. They now require parking two miles away which then meant either a hitch or a hike up an ungroomed trail through avalanche territory to reach the rim. I was not prepared for those options so I’d have to settle for day visits. 

It was an overcast day with very little breeze and perfect temperatures. I’d been excited to overnight as conditions were forecast to be about as perfect as they can be in late January. 

While the area around Rim Village is trampled and there is usually a well stomped path to Discovery Point, once beyond that point, there is plenty of virgin snow. 

One of the reasons I wanted to overnight on the rim was to enjoy sunset and sunrise. Sunset was a bit of a disappointment, but it kept me focused on Mt Thielsen and thoughts of my PCT journey six months earlier.

It’s a 20 mile drive to a snowpark at Annie Springs to legally overnight camp. With winter road conditions, it took me an hour to drive those miles. After a restless night’s sleep I was up before dawn to make my way back to the rim for sunrise. 

I had high hopes of making it to Watchman Peak. Crusty conditions made for slow travel and considerable effort. 

Watchman Peak with it’s tower was my objective. 

I was near the bend when I was confronted with crumbling snow, rock fall and avalanche danger. I probably should have veered from the road at Lightning Springs as the transition from the road to the ridge looked challenging. Regardless I was tuckered and knew it was unlikely I’d make it to the top, so not feeling too defeated this was good motivation to reverse direction. 

This day will be remembered for the icy reflections on the lake. There was a thin veil of ice covering most of the lake but there were also open water areas which reflected the snow on the mountains. It was a 360-degree phenomenon. Incredible! I wasn’t able to capture the magic through photos, but this gives you an idea.

Adventure Date(s):

  • January 28-29, 2019

Tips:

  • Permits are required to camp on or near the rim. They can be obtained from the wilderness office near the Steel Visitor Center. Plan your timing to hitch the two miles to Rim Village. Had I known about the policy change I would have arrived much earlier in the day so I could have driven to the rim to check on conditions before returning for permit and parking.
  • Car camping is not allowed in the park. There are snow parks on 62 north and south. To be legal you need an Oregon snow parking pass.
  • Download a copy of the winter newspaper for details on closures, trails, etc.
  • Check weather forecast.

Resources:

Links:

 

CA – Shasta-Trinity and Lassen National Forests . . . falling into winter

Not only did I spend time this fall in Lassen Volcanic National Park (link), but I also found a few other favorite places in far Northern California to jaunt. 

Hike #1 – Castle Lake Trailhead

Castle Lake 

Little Castle Lake 

Mt Shasta Views 

Castle Crags and Lassen Views (on a smoky day) 

Hiking Date: October 21, 2018

 

 

 

 

Hike #2 – Trinity Alps, Stuart Fork Trailhead 

Hiking Date: October 28, 2018

 

Hike #3 – Lassen, Kohm Yah-mah-nee Visitor Center 

Ridge Lakes 

Date Hiked: November 30, 2018

Hike #4 – Mt Shasta, Bunny Flat Trailhead 

Black Butte 

Date Hiked: December 2, 2018

Hike #5 – Castle Lake Trailhead 

Date Hiked: December 6, 2018 (no stats on this date)

Hike #6 – Mt Shasta, Bunny Flat Trailhead 

Sierra Club Horse Camp Cabin 

Date Hiked: December 10, 2018

 

 

Hike #7 – PCT, Dog Trailhead 

Date Hiked: December 13, 2018

Hike #8 – PCT, Twin Bridges Trailhead 

Date Hiked: December 19, 2018

 

Hike #9 – Mt Shasta, Southeast Wanderings 

The bears were still wandering around. 

Date Hiked: December 22, 2018

Hike #10 – PCT, Cache 22 Trailhead

Final sunset of 2018

Date Hiked: December 31, 2018 (no stats)

Instead here’s my cheer to you for a fantastic 2019 filled with adventure, good health and plenty of smiles.

And that my friends is a wrap for 2018. Below is my year in review video.

Links:

UT – Cedar Breaks National Monument . . . it’s a snowshoe adventure

Since I was in winter mode after experiencing a bit of snow the previous day in Cedar City and Parowan Gap, how could I resist the opportunity to snowshoe in fresh beautiful powder? 

I was super excited as I’d never been to Cedar Breaks previously. I knew I wouldn’t get the full experience with both the Park and road closed, but I didn’t really care. 

I was the first to snowshoe, so up to me to break trail. I love being first on a fresh white canvas.

Evidence of the temperatures. It was 19 when I arrived and not much warmer when I left.

I was hoping to make it to an overlook, but this was as far as I could make it in the foot or so of fresh powder. Of course the warming hut is only open on weekends. 

How could I not stop to take photos even in these frigid temps? 

Looks like another storm is a brewing. 

As I returned to my car I was thanked by several other snowshoers who were grateful for my trail. 

Red plus white equals ahhhhh so beautiful. 

Was I happy? 

Adventure Date(s):

  • March 16, 2018

Resources:

Links:

CO – Wolf Creek Pass, Snowshoe to Lobo Overlook

After a day spent in reverie while visiting the Ancestral Puebloans at Chimney Rock National Monument (link to related post), I found myself traveling northeast on CO-160 though Pagosa Springs and onward to Wolf Creek Pass where an opportunity for snowshoeing with views awaited.

Although the winter season was ending, there was still plenty of snow for me. 

I was happy to find someone had broke trail. It had a crusty top with deep powder below. 

Well that didn’t last long. Less than 1o minutes later my trail breaking buddy gave up. Breaking trail is quite a workout; I found the road grade plenty challenging.

I almost gave up before reaching the tower. Powder conditions and elevation of over 11,000′ was wearing me down. 

The views from the Continental Divide were outstanding. 

There’s my car! In the above photo you can see the pull out whereas the below photo is on zoom. So sad to see so many dead trees.

It’ll be a while before you can use this restroom. 

Hello little friend. You make such cute toe prints. 

I love shadow art. 

There were a few places with wind slab avalanche danger. I’m grateful for my avalanche awareness training and experience. 

I gave up on the road as I neared the top, then took the fast way down.

Snowshoe Details:

  • Date: April 7, 2017
  • Mileage: 4 miles round trip
  • Elevation Gain/Loss: 1,100’/1,100′

My Snowshoe Gear:

Links:

CA – Lassen Volcanic NP, Chaos Crags . . . and so begins my Spring 2017 Jaunt

Where to start when you are missing a chapter of posts? How about at the beginning? Yes I may be nearly a year late, but as they say better late than never, plus who doesn’t like reliving adventures especially on a wet dreary winter day? Lassen has a north and south entrance, surprisingly the south end gets more snow. The road between the two is closed during the winter. For the past three years, I’ve begun my spring jaunt at one end or the other. This year, it was from the north side with a fun snowshoe in 1-2 feet of fresh powder. It was a spectacular day! 

My timing was such I FINALLY had the opportunity to meet PCT trail angel legend, Georgi aka Firefly. We had a hard time grabbing a selfie when her little buddy wanted to steal the limelight.

My fortune cookie message seemed a good omen. 

It was only fitting to take a few steps on the PCT. 

My feet are bigger than yours . . . 

You know you’re in Nevada when . . . 

Room with a view, somewhere along Nevada Highway 50. 

Adventure Dates:

  • February 27-28, 2017

Links:

Resources:

CA – McCloud Falls . . . a Trio and Trail Worthy of Four-Season Love

My Facebook post about a McCloud Falls snowshoe trek on January 5, 2017.

“This was the least fun day of snowshoeing I can ever recall. There was a 4-6″ crust that I busted through with each step then sunk into the foot plus of powder. After taking a few steps I wanted to quit, but I’d just driven 75 miles and didn’t have a good Plan B. Avalanche danger was high in the mountains, and I wasn’t confident of better conditions elsewhere. It took me 4 hours to hike less than 3 miles. It was 20F when I arrived at 11am and 26F when I finished at 3pm. Oh but the reward? icy waterfalls! (and a kickass workout).”

In the winter, the road to the falls trailhead is not plowed. Typically a berm exists where the plow has created a parking area off the highway. My first snowshoe to the falls was with a group who thought we’d be able to drive over the berm. Ha . . . lesson learned! 

In the summer you can make short jaunts to the three waterfalls by driving to nearby parking areas, or you can hike the connecting trail of 1.2 miles from Lower McCloud Falls to Middle McCloud Falls and another .5 miles to Upper McCloud Falls. The McCloud River Trail continues another 13.4 miles to Algoma Campground. In the winter you might need to hike/snowshoe another 1.3 miles on the road depending on snow conditions. 

Lower McCloud Falls.

Middle McCloud Falls.

Upper McCloud Falls.  

McCloud River Trail. 

If I had to list my favorite river, it would probably be the McCloud River. 

The nearly 15 mile McCloud River Trail provides more to enjoy besides the highlighted waterfalls. 

Mt Shasta! 

Links:

Resources:

CA – Mt Shasta Snowshoe, Celebrating Early Season SNOW!

November 11, 2017, that’s a date I won’t soon forget. It’s the earliest I’ve ever strapped on my snowshoes. My friend Steve lives in the Mt Shasta area and knows how to read the weather and snow conditions. So when he invited me on this adventure and said now’s the time, I said YES! 

Sierra Club Horse Camp Cabin 

Lunch with a view. 

The view I was looking at wasn’t quite as nice as the one behind me. 

Plenty cold. 

Links:

Snowshoe Gear: