Friday, December 9, 2011

Just a ridge away

Location: Mount Rainier National Park

Distance: 6 miles

Elevation gain: 900 feet

The beauty of snowshoeing on Mazama Ridge is that you can amble off in any direction at any time without the constraints of a trail. We started at Paradise and headed south up the ridge, enjoying another clear day in the midst of winter. The sweating started as we climbed and kick stepped a half mile up a steep slope until we reached the ridge crest.

At the top, we turned back briefly to admire the Tatoosh Range in the distance and then proceeded to a small outcropping of rocks for lunch. Mount Rainier loomed just north, a glorious vision as we gobbled sandwiches and cookies. After a goofy photo shoot, we made a right and went south down the ridge through deep, powdery snow. We considered heading straight down the ridge but it was too steep for one in our party so we retraced our footsteps and made our way down the icy run by jamming our heels and zig zagging down the hill. We circled around Paradise Lodge and chalked it up to a mellow but beautiful day on the mountain.

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