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Alpental Snowshoe

December 1, 2001

My friend Durstin and I made plans to head up to Snoqualmie Pass for some snowshoeing in all the new snow. After a stop at the North Bend QFC for swiss cheese, summer sausage, and a baguette, we continued up the highway to the Alpental ski area. It wasn't scheduled to open for another week, so we decided to take the "road" past the water tower and explore this area. It was snowing lightly when we reached the Alpental parking lot. We were glad we both brought our umbrellas. As we organized our gear, Durstin realized he left his boots at home so he improvised with plastic sacks over his shoes. This worked very well because the snowshoes provided enough flotation to keep his feet mostly above the snow, and when the snow was deeper, the sacks kept his feet dry!

There were many other snowshoers and backcountry skiers in the parking lot with us. We hiked up the road and I was surprised to run into my friends Greg, April and Drew. Drew was taking photos of Greg and April and their beagles for their Christmas cards. It sure was the perfect day for it with all the new snow!

As we approached the upper parking lot we could hear the snow mowers working. The parking lot had about 3.5 feet of snow and it was fun watching the machines "chew" rows through the deep snow. It was really amazing to see so much snow, especially since it came after Thanksgiving!

Since we got a late start, there was already a well packed trail for us to follow. There would be no trail breaking today unless we wanted to. We marched down the trail enjoying the the sound of the rushing creek beside us and the beautiful winter wonderland scenery!

After an hour or so we left the trail and stomped out a place to sit and eat our lunch under the shelter of a large fir tree. We were on the edge of hill and we could look out across the valley to the other side. Today I was trying out my new Army-surplus stove that I had picked while in Alaska over Thanksgiving. It was more of a "cooker" than a stove, really. The small metal box unfolded to form a base to hold a solid fuel packet, and a stand to hold a pot. I was told that one of the solid fuel packets would provide enough heat to boil a small pot of water in 2 minutes. I don't know if the fuel was old or what, but one packet barely melted a pot of snow into luke warm water. So much for having a hot cup of noodles! At least we had our other picnic food.

After a nice relaxing lunch, we packed everything up and continued on down the trail. We crossed a few small streams but our trail ended when we came upon a large creek with steep sides leading down to it. We followed the stream down to an open meadow which might have been Source Lake. On the other side of the creek was a tent in the trees. What a fun place to snowcamp! We made a loop across the meadow/lake and headed back into the trees and regained our trail. The wind picked up so we kept our eyes and ears peeled for "idiot makers" falling from the treetops. We could see craters at the base of some of the larger trees where snow had sloughed off. We arrived back at the car just as it got dark. Perfect timing!

We had worked up a hearty appetite from our day in the snow so we stopped in at the Pizza Place in North Bend. Ah, it doesn't get any better than this!