Where’s that trail going to take you in 2023? For me, it took me along a New Year’s Day snowshoe hike at Mount Rainier National Park. I think it was the prettiest winter day I’ve seen at the park, to date (not that I’ve been up there too many times in the winter, but of those times I *have* been there, this day had to be the best).
Mount Rainier staff only open the Paradise area on the weekends, now, due to understaffing, so I thought it was going to be a zoo. When I first arrived, there were rangers out there directing traffic and helping people park (correctly), so every single parking space was taken. Really, though, the only real crowding I saw was in the parking lot, near the start of the snow climb. About a mile into the hike, there were few people. And oh, the scenery!
I gotta send a shout out to all those skiers who hiked (most on their skis, some on snowshoes) way up to a snow-covered ridge on what I believe is part of the Skyline Trail. That was a good 2-3 mile hike to get there. Those people are in very good shape, and serious about their skiing, powerhousing it up to the ridge.
Speaking of skis and snowshoes, if you decide to take a little weekend trip up to Paradise, then go early (the gate at Longmire usually opens at 9 a.m. unless weather dictates otherwise), and for goodness sake, take snowshoes or skis. I noticed some people did not have either, so they stuck close to the parking lot, or risked “post holing” (where your foot sinks waaaaay down into the snow, potentially causing an injury or at the very least, a face plant). Not even the “packed” snowshoe/ski trails were that hard-packed. I can tell you that from personal experience, because I lost one of my snowshoes (due to faulty securing on my boot) and had to back down the trail to get it, post holing a couple of times along the way, on the trail. Not so much afraid for myself, but rather for getting snow in/on the camera
Oh, and make sure you keep track of your time, because the Longmire gate closes at 4 p.m. You miss that deadline and you are stuck – seriously. Annnnd, drive slowly. Black ice (that’s ice invisible to the naked eye, more or less, so it looks like a part of the asphalt) was all over the road. One SUV ahead of me skidded completely off the road, and I skidded slightly a couple of times, even with my 4WD and great tires. I finally figured out if the road was shiny-looking, it was probably icy, and drove accordingly.
This morning, muscles hurt in areas I guess I haven’t used much. And I was exhausted yesterday once I made it back to my vehicle. But oh, what a day. Couldn’t have been a better start to the New Year for me: gorgeous scenery, great exercise, and awesome photography.
Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.