~8 mi rt
max: 4524 ft
gain: 1959 ft
The weather was rather overcast but I still wanted to get some snow so I decided to head up to Mazama Meadow via the Ridley Creek trail. I have written about the trail before so this is just a review and a snow update. I like going in from this trail even though the trail approach is a little longer because the road is accessed off of Mosquito Lake road just outside of Bellingham. If I go into Park Butte area via the normal route I have to drive down to the Baker Lake area and up that way which is a few hours away.
This is one of those trails that has little avy danger and if I can get to the trail, I can get up the mountain. Today when I got to the trail parking WTA was there getting ready to go about a mile or so in to do trail maintenance…a huge thank you for the work they do!
The trail was snow free for the first few miles but at 4100 ft it started and stayed. I had read a previous report on WTA from a few days prior that said there was snow so it was impossible to keep going…I didn’t find it challenging at all but I am comfortable traveling in snow and I am familiar with this trail so I know where I am going.
The snow free part of the trail had a few areas with trees down but only one area where the trail is covered and you have to work your way through otherwise it was just a matter of stepping (or since I am short, crawling) over.
Once I hit the snow I put on the spikes and gaitors and headed through the woods roughly following the summer trail. There were a few places I had to find places to drop down the steep embankments so that I could get across the large creeks and then back up the other side. Some of these crossings involved steep downs and up but with my mountaineering boots it is easy to kick steps in.
I was in the lower meadow about a quarter of a mile from the upper meadow and had stopped to figure out the best place to get across a gully. I looked behind me and there was a man following me…not creepy following, just following my tracks. I usually don’t like when others follow in my tracks because I find that they are often unprepared and just went because there were tracks. At this point I was on about 3-4 feet of snow so being prepared was important. I asked the guy if he was following me and he said yes because it seemed as though I knew where I was going. Turns out he is a former back-country Ranger and was fully equipped. We continued on together to the shelter where I stopped to eat while he went up to the ridge. We connected back up later and ended up walking out together. While we were talking he mentioned that he had also checked to see that I had a full pack on : )
The weather didn’t clear up until later that day when I was back in town at Wander having a beer, I can see Baker from there. While there were no views of the mountains today it was still a great day to be outside! I recommend you go compare the pictures from my previous post to these today, the difference between the seasons is always fun to see!