Mowich Lake Rd (Dec 3, 2016)

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mowich_lk_rd_coverConditions: snowshoe
Gear: snowshoes
Map: USGS Mowich Lake
Area: Mount Rainier NP
Reference: Snowshoe Routes Washington
Stats: 9.64mi, 1315' gain (round trip)

I've been itching to get out for a snowshoe but I think I've turned into a driving wimp. I gotta say I love my Jetta TDI (Gertie) but dang...she has no clearance and I've started to second guess driving to every trailhead. Gertie isn't long for this world...she's one of the superpoluting cars that is part of the Volkswagen emissions cheating scandal. Gertie is getting recalled and for me that means a buyback by VW. I have an appointment on the 20th to turn her over. I've already bought a new car...a 4Runner. So...the question of getting to trailheads shouldn't be an issue anymore. Still...Gertie is fun to drive.

I picked Mowich Lk because I "thought" it would be easy to get to the park boundary. I'd read some recent trip reports and nothing mentioned anything too alarming about the rough road conditions. We drove down early because we wanted a full day of being out in some fresh snow. About 5 miles from the park boundary we found a current logging operation going on right along the road. It was the weekend so it wasn't like there were logging trucks barreling down the road but...good gosh...they have some parts of the road higher up pretty mucky. Right by the high pole there was a pool of slick mud across the road. We stopped pondered it then backed off. Steve got behind the wheel and we headed back up again...then stopped...looked. That pool of muck was 6-8 inches deep. Last thing we wanted was to get stuck in it. We weren't confident Gertie could get through it. So once again we backed off and parked in a wide spot a bit down the road.

Well we had a bit of a road walk ahead of us. There was no snow on the road where we parked. Both of us wondered when it would start...

Just past the logging operation the road conditions improved. We both scratched our heads wondering if we made the right choice to not try to get through it. We walked nearly 5 miles to the park boundary! Just before the boundary sign there was some slush on the road. I joke to Steve that carrying snowshoes was "training". A couple of cars had parked just before the Paul Peak TH. Beyond here, the snow was deeper and cars/trucks were certainly getting to the parking area. To get to the parking area meant all vehicles needed to get through one really ugly spot of slick snow, potholes, and generally bad road. Just beyond the parking area is the gate on the road. Well since we were nearly 5 miles into our trip this seemed like a good place to stop for lunch...

There were several groups out today. Most were snowshoe groups. Some were on skis. Just beyond the gate the snow was finally deep enough to put snowshoes on. We continued up the road almost another 3.5miles before deciding this was a good turnaround. We were now almost 9 miles from the car and that road walk back to the car was likely to be in the dark at some point. We stopped were there was a small tree that had come down across the road (it's not hard to get around it). Then...we turned around. I grumbled to Steve that I hoped we could bum a ride back to our car at some point...

Back at the Paul Peak TH the snowshoes came off and then we reluctantly started the walk back down to the car. We hadn't walked long when along came two skiers in an older Subie that asked if all was OK. We said yes but asked if they wouldn't mind giving us a ride back down to our car. They very generously gave us a lift! Yippee!!!

It did turn out to be a smart decision to not push Gertie through the mud. A couple of drivers mentioned they also didn't like that same spot. It really won't matter in a few more weeks. The 4Runner is on order. I'll have it by the end of the year...
Mowich Lk Rd Slideshow

(click on map to view a larger version)

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