A Half-good trip

Posted by Ken Campbell January 15, 2012 0 Comment 1134 views

The idea was that I would go to Paradise the first day, do a little snowshoeing, and the next day I’d head to the southern side of the Mount Tahoma Trails, maybe ski to the yurt, just as a day trip. The first part of the plan went well; the second half fell a little short.

Paradise is well named, let’s just say that right up front. Clear skies, plenty of snow. I strapped on the shoes and went out on the Skyline Trail at first, away from the more crowded areas, and in less time than it’s taken to type this, I was all alone in the backcountry. That’s how it felt, anyway.
The mountain dominated the view. When you’re the size of Mount Rainier, there’s not much that’s going to upstage you. Hundreds of feet of exposed stone, too steep to hold snow, hanging a mile overhead, mixed with glaciers and snow fields gleaming white in the blinding sunlight. The summit seemed close, much closer than it was. I’ve heard stories about visitors who didn’t know any better, who got confused by the scale of the place, and set out for the summit in blue jeans and tennie runners, thinking they would get up and back by supper time. Resulting in the inevitable call to Search and Rescue.

I can see how it would happen; the summit is like some kind of magnet to the soul. I fought the urge to climb and kept to the lower elevations instead.
With the excellent snow pack, it was no trouble to cut across one ridge, then another, and find my way to the Alta Vista Trail. As the sun descended, I came back down to the parking lot, fully satisfied with an afternoon well spent.
The next morning, I had hoped for another slice of heaven, but it was not to be. The snow that graced Paradise didn’t quite make it to the Tahoma Trails, a couple of thousand feet lower down. There was some snow, but not enough strap on the skis. Some icy patches amid the gravel, anticlimactic compared to the previous day. I walked up the trail toward High Hut for a while, thinking that if I hit snow line, I could come back and grab the skis.
In the end, I lost interest and pointed the car back toward home. There will be other days.

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