Mazama Ridge (Mar 9, 2013)

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mazama_ridge_coverConditions: Snowshoe
Gear: Snowshoes
Map: USGS Mount Rainier East
Area: Paradise, Mount Rainier National Park
Reference: Snowshoe Routes Washington
Stats: 4.94mi, 1279' gain (round trip)

This was a return trip to Mazama Ridge nearly one year exactly after my first trip. Weather was fantastic. Company...the best.

We figured the gate up to Paradise might not open until 10am so the plan had Gwen, Jim and I meeting at the SE8th P&R at 7:45am. We met, packed our junk into the back of Gwen's Subie and then off we were. Low hanging fog/clouds nearly the whole drive to the park. Hmm...better lift by the time we get started. Sure enough, the gate was open, the skies were blue, and we parked in the upper lots at Paradise. Wouldn't be much longer with this nice weather, that spots would remain empty and parking would be diverted to the lower lot. Lots of people out. Skiers, snowboarders, splitboarders, sledders, snowshoers...there is something for everyone here.

We left the parking lot at the SE end heading up a patch that is groomed. This takes you off to the road that circles around the head of the Paradise Valley. The beated in track was wide at first, then narrowed to two "lanes" and then those lanes merged into one well beat in multi-use track (snowshoe and ski). It circles around the head of the valley and at about 3/4 mile from the parking lot we followed the track heading up the ridge. Blue Such a nice change. Not really all that windy. Temps were predicted to be near freezing but with the bright sun reflecting off the snow, it felt 15 degrees warmer. I *almost* wish I had a short sleeve shirt. Almost...

We headed up. The trail is really moderate the whole way. We reached the ridge about 1.25mi from the car. First...head for the bump. Seemed like a nice spot to stop and have lunch. A couple of slipboarders came up after us eyeing some lines down towards Stevens Creek. As we left the bump, a couple more snowshoers were arrving. Now time to just roam, and roam, and roam. We decided to head north and then eventually NE towards Pt6252. Eventually we could see all three volcanoes...Adams, St Helens, and of course...Mt Rainier.

Eventually we decided to backtrack and head back out towards the car. Gwen suggested a slightly different route out. Good suggestion. We somehow manages to miss the screaming obvious track that headed back down the ridge, oops. Too much oogling I say. It just gave us the chance to walk a bit more and enjoy the views. I love heading downhill on showshoes in fresh snow but I just wish I could still run while doing it. Oh well, it is nice enough just to be out. We crossed the creek on a great snowbridge, traversed around high for just a bit, and then dropped back down to the road aiming for the hairpin turn. Then the fun road walk back up to the car.

What a great birthday snowshoe. Thanks Jim and Gwen...a good day with great friends. There isn't anything better.
Mazama Ridge Slideshow

(click on map to view a larger version)

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Copyright Janet M. Putz
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