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 Niño, 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…
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.
We followed FR 20 for about a mile,
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,
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.
Along the way, we had a nice view of snow-plastered Mount Ashland,
and of Mount Shasta,
as we worked our way across the gentle, snow-covered bowls that become exuberant wildflower meadows in summer.
After 2.3 miles, we reached the shelter,
which harkens back to the Civilian Construction Corps (CCC) days of extremely sturdy construction,
complete with a fire pit that reminded us of the one at Many Glacier Hotel in Glacier National Park.
The view of Mount Shasta from the front of the shelter was amazing…
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,
enjoying one last view of Mount Shasta bathed in sunshine.
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!