Grouse Gap Snowshoe (Mount Ashland) 27-Jan-2016

Grouse Gap Shelter Mount Ashland Oregon

With predictions of an “atmospheric river” (one forecaster dared say “Pineapple Express”) incoming, we decided to take advantage of what sunlight remained for a quick snowshoe hike up on Mount. Ashland. Unlike the last two years, when there was essentially no snow on the mountain, this year, thanks to El NiƱo, we have a 100-inch base!

Last time we tried this, conditions were not at all hospitable. This time, it was all sweetness and light…

Grouse Gap Shelter Mount Ashland Oregon
Mount Shasta over a sea of clouds

The trip out to the Grouse Gap Shelter is only about five miles roud-trip (closer to 7 miles if you make a loop), but enough to enjoy the sun, get some exercise, and give The LovedOne’s new showshoes a further test (spoiler: they didn’t pass). The ski area is closed Tuesday and Wednesday, so it’s not crowded and parking is easy. Our hike started at the Mount Ashland Sno-Park (permit required) and followed Forest Road (FR) 20 passed the campground, both of which are happily snowed-in this year.

Grouse Gap Shelter Mount Ashland Oregon
Deep snow at the campground

We followed FR 20 for about a mile,

Grouse Gap Shelter Mount Ashland Oregon
Along FR 20

to where the service road to the ski lift and comm gear on top of Mount Ashland (snocats and snow mobiles are allowed in this stretch) continues on,

Grouse Gap Shelter Mount Ashland Oregon
The service road continues ahead; unplowed FR 20 goes left

and now unplowed FR 20 branches left toward the shelter, across the Grouse Creek drainage. From here on, it’s just skiers and snowshoers – you just stay out of each other’s tracks.

Grouse Gap Shelter Mount Ashland Oregon
Unplowed FR 20 crosses the Grouse Creek drainage

Along the way, we had a nice view of snow-plastered Mount Ashland,

Grouse Gap Shelter Mount Ashland Oregon
The west side of Mount Ashland

and of Mount Shasta,

Grouse Gap Shelter Mount Ashland Oregon
On the horizon: Mount Shasta (L) and Mount Eddy (R)

as we worked our way across the gentle, snow-covered bowls that become exuberant wildflower meadows in summer.

Grouse Gap Shelter Mount Ashland Oregon
Crossing the bowl below Grouse Gap

After 2.3 miles, we reached the shelter,

Grouse Gap Shelter Mount Ashland Oregon
Grouse Gap Shelter (and outhouse)

which harkens back to the Civilian Construction Corps (CCC) days of extremely sturdy construction,

Grouse Gap Shelter Mount Ashland Oregon
Inside the solidly built Grouse Gap Shelter

complete with a fire pit that reminded us of the one at Many Glacier Hotel in Glacier National Park.

Grouse Gap Shelter Mount Ashland Oregon
Grouse Gap Shelter fireplace

The view of Mount Shasta from the front of the shelter was amazing…

Grouse Gap Shelter Mount Ashland Oregon
Mount Shasta from the Grouse Gap Shelter

We’d thought about doing the loop but The LovedOne’s new snowshoes were acting-up – no matter how we laced or buckled them, they kept twisting inward – so we relunctantly headed back the way we’d come,

Grouse Gap Shelter Mount Ashland Oregon
Re-tracing our tracks

enjoying one last view of Mount Shasta bathed in sunshine.

Grouse Gap Shelter Mount Ashland Oregon
Mount Shasta from FR 20

The atmospheric river arrived overnight and looks to be with us for a few days. That will give us time to get the snowshoes sorted so we can come back and do the loop!

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