Snowshoeing Near Mildred Point/Longmire

This year’s hopes to go winter hiking and camping haven’t turned out exactly like I had, well, hoped. Kristen has been jobless for a while and we would have needed to make a few purchases if we really wanted to get in to it this year. I lucked out though, and was able to go snowshoeing with a friend from our community group who has had years of experience with The Mountaineers. Bruce wanted to take me up to Reflection Lake, but the avalanche danger was pretty high last weekend. In fact, three skiers died near Steven’s Pass a day or two before we went out. I really wanted to see Reflection Lake, but it wasn’t to be.

Instead Bruce took us to Longmire and we snowshoed up toward Mildred Point. This was only my second time snowshoeing, the other being a trip with Ryan back in the U.P up Brian Hill. We left Tacoma shortly after 6:30 AM on President’s Day. This worked out well because we only saw one other pair of people toward the end of our hike back to the car. The snowshoe to Reflection Lake wouldn’t have included much elevation gain, but that wasn’t so where we went. We ended up with about 2,300 ft. of elevation gain according to Bruce’s altimeter watch. Luckily up the switchbacks the trail had already been broken so we weren’t sinking in too much; mostly using the snowshoes for tracking and not flotation.

Poor visibility on our snowshoe hike. Unfortunately no views of the mountain.

We reached the top of the ridge where you could go left to complete the Rampart Ridge Loop and instead took a right, traversing the ridge through the woods. There wasn’t any visibility which was kind of a bummer, but snow-covered pines were enough of a view for me. I miss snow dearly, and it was beautiful the whole day. A little way into our hike along the ridge and Bruce, who was ahead of me, gives a loud chuckle. I was wondering what he was laughing about, but then I saw it: whoever broke the trail the previous day had stopped and turned around. Maybe it was too windy for him or her, we did cross quite a few large snow drifts.

Bruce Leading the way.

Bruce snowshoeing among giants.

A fun little macro shot with some frozen old man's beard.

Bruce let me break quite a bit of trail, which was fun, but also kind of brutal. My hip has been experiencing some pain on the last few hikes I’d been on, and breaking trail made it worse. Lifting my right leg, along with the snow that had piled on top of my snowshoes, was quite painful. I tried to keep the whining to a minimum, because I wanted to press on, and I usually do fairly well enduring pain. We broke trail up the ridge only to then have to descend a couple hundred feet again. That’s never fun, giving up elevation that you just gained.

Bruce and I at our lunch spot.

Bruce must have been my new special someone today! (Chocolate covered fortune cookie = yum.)

A little relieved, we reached a point where we were pretty close to the last elevation push to get up to the point and decided it would be a good time to stop for lunch. I learned a good lesson here; take along some hot soup or something warm to eat! My sandwich wasn’t bad, but I was a little jealous of Bruce’s soup! Especially on a day trip the extra weight isn’t too much of a factor. It wasn’t too cold, probably just under freezing; it was snowing while we were hiking but kind of half snow/rain down at Longmire. But I still would have enjoyed something warm.

After relaxing a little (also note to self, bring a pad to sit on, thankfully Bruce had one) we quickly decided that it’s probably best we turn around and head back. We were pretty worn out, and I don’t think my hip would have liked me if we pushed all the way to the point. This was a good decision, but I was kind of bummed because we didn’t really reach a “destination” like I am used to. Next time. The hike out was still pretty rough on my hip, hopefully I can figure out what’s going on and fix it, perhaps with some strength training or something.

Bruce making it look easy.

We made it back to the car, dipped in to the bathroom to change into dry clothes, although mine weren’t dry because I bladder completely emptied itself in Bruce’s trunk (thankfully he had a plastic liner), soaking my change of clothes. Whoops. Luckily I didn’t sweat a whole lot and my shirt vented perspiration quite well so it was mostly dry too.

The trip was amazing and I’d do it again in a heart beat, but it still kicked my ass. That night I was feeling pretty beat up and honestly a little sick. I felt 100% better in the morning (though still sore), but it’s not often I am so sore that my body feels like crashing. I guess that’s what I get for being mostly dormant this winter, spending way too much time inside with no physical activity. Hopefully I’m able to go out on a few more snowshoeing trips this winter, and then drive right into hiking and backpacking this summer as well. Plans don’t always go as I wish, but we’ll get some in, for sure. I hope you enjoy some of the photos (I should take more next time), and would love to hear about any trips you’ve taken recently!