Rampart Ridge at Longmire

Initially I wanted to hike the Eastern portion of Rampart Ridge, and then split off and hike the ridge up to Mildred Point. I was told the Rampart Ridge trail was “bootable,” but snowshoes would be for continuing on to Mildred Point. I recruited Ryan and Joe to tag along in my adventures. Ryan had some new gear he wanted to try out, and Joe was up for it (despite rain in the forecast).

Ryan ready to go in the Longmire parking lot

Ryan ready to go in the Longmire parking lot

The snow was immediately a lot deeper than we thought it would be. Ryan put on snowshoes relatively early to increase his traction as he was leading and post holing frequently. Joe and I held off on snowshoes until a little later, but we could have benefited from them at that point as well.

IMG_1863

Some deep snow

Some deep snow

Ryan and Joe crossing a precarious snow-covered log

Ryan and Joe crossing a precarious snow-covered log

Ryan and I crossing a bridge

Ryan and I crossing a bridge

Hiking through the snow amongst beautiful trees

Hiking through the snow amongst beautiful trees

We made it to the split in the trail; taking a right would lead toward Mildred Point, and taking a left would continue on the Rampart Ridge Loop. There was no path that led to Mildred Point, so we would be breaking 3.2 miles of trail, something Joe and Ryan weren’t up for, so we continued to our left and found a great clearing for a lunch spot shortly after.

Red is our intended trip route, blue is our actual trip route. The faint gray line is the Rampart Ridge Loop Trail; you can see where we cut it short and went off trail.

Red is our intended trip route, blue is our actual trip route. The faint gray line is the Rampart Ridge Loop Trail; you can see where we cut it short and went off trail.

The trail sight, mostly buried in snow, where we decided to take the "shorter" route back

The trail sight, mostly buried in snow, where we decided to take the “shorter” route back

Ryan snowshoeing to our lunch spot

Ryan snowshoeing to our lunch spot

Ready for some yummy Mountain House meals. Joe's awesome orange Nalgene in the background.

Ready for some yummy Mountain House meals. Joe’s awesome orange Nalgene in the background.

Ryan enjoying lunch

Ryan enjoying lunch

A cool tree in the clearing at our lunch spot

A cool tree in the clearing at our lunch spot

Joe rolling some snow around. Someone's going to get upset with that I'm sure, lol

Joe rolling some snow around. Someone’s going to get upset with that I’m sure, lol

Shortly after leaving our lunch spot we kind of lost the trail. There was only one person who had been on that trail a day or two beforehand, so the trail would disappear here and there. Luckily I brought my GPS so we were able to kind of navigate our way back in the right direction. At one point we found the trail again but decided to veer off it in order to get back to Longmire a little faster. That provided us with some interesting terrain to scramble over as we were a little too close to the “ridge” portion. At one point we had to hike straight across the side of the mountain because going down would have sent us off a ledge. Whoops.

Joe navigating across a stream

Joe navigating across a stream

Ryan crossing the same stream

Ryan crossing the same stream

But we made it, and it was worth it. All in all a great time out with close friends, and one of the best things were seeing zero (that’s right, zero) people on the trail. We had the whole area to ourselves! I will be back to make it up to Mildred Point as I’m currently 0/2 in attempts to reach it, both in deep snow however. Maybe I will save it for a nice summer day.

Cool snow pile on the bridge back to Longmire

Cool snow pile on the bridge back to Longmire

Here’s the interactive trail map thingie:


Every hike or trip I take, I try to come up with a few things that I learned to better my next trip. Here are today’s lessons learned:

  1. When coming up with a backup route, plan it out as best I can. I had the Mildred Point route entered into my GPS, but I didn’t have the full Rampart Ridge Loop trail in there. And my GPS map doesn’t have trails in it (need to figure out how to do that), so we were kind of guessing a good portion of the time. It would have been cakewalk had I loaded the backup plan in there as well.
  2. Don’t turn dehydrated dinners upside down to get them fully mixed. Whoops. I shook my dinner around because I’ve had it not get fully cooked before, but this time my zipper popped open and I lost 3/4 of my meal. That’s something I won’t do again.
  3. Try to accurately portray the trip to those who are going. I told Ryan about the hike, but he was surprised when we actually went on it. To be fair, so was I. It didn’t sound like there was that much snow on the Rampart Ridge portion (from both sources I looked to – the park HQ and a NW Hiker Facebook poster who had been on it three weeks before). I also need to accurately portray the elevation gain because I told Ryan it “wouldn’t be that bad.” It’s not as bad as hikes I’ve been on before, but I think next time I will give actual measurements/distances to my friends before we go on it – that way they are not surprised.
  4. I did do a good job of not pushing the group past our limits. I didn’t even really try to convince the others to go on to Mildred Point, I let the make the decision and I rolled with it. Sometimes I can try to be persuasive about that kind of thing, but hikes aren’t the best place to do that.