Mt Tahoma Ski//Snowshoe Trip

Monday–Thursday, February 27–March 1, 2012
Leader: Chris Stockdale
Ext Trp: (Difficult)

A HUT WITH A VIEW

Extended trip to Mt. Tahoma, WA

In good weather, the reward for skiing 2400’ in 4.5 miles to the Mt. Tahoma High Hut is an up-close view of Mt. Rainier. The six of us who stayed in the nearby town of Ashford woke to a brilliant blue sky and with great anticipation, headed out for our trek to this hut, which at 4760’, is the highest of the huts in the Mt. Tahoma Trails Association’s trail system. However, as we were skiing up a groomed road bordered by tall trees, our views of surrounding peaks was limited, and as we gained elevation, the clouds starting blowing in. Sure enough, when we finally reached the hut, no rewarding view was forthcoming. But as the second group of four arrived, they brought clearing weather with them and we were all delighted with incredible views of Rainier, St. Helens and other surrounding peaks.

The High Hut is a well-equipped and comfortable refuge in the mountains. Heated by an efficient propane stove, it also offers a full kitchen with propane oven and enough plates, pots and pans to handle a crowd. Sleeping accommodations are basic, with two bunks and a futon on the main level and a sleeping loft with sleeping mats. The only discomfort is the trek to the outhouse which, in the bitter cold winds with driving snow that developed, made us very reluctant to head out until completely desperate.

On the following day, people split into groups for skiing or snowshoeing the roads and trails in the area. Sue Wolling, Susan Wanser and Chris Stockdale headed out to check out the Yurt, another great place to spend the night. Their loop planned according to the map didn’t quite work the way they thought and they had to break trail through deep snow, crossing several creeks less than sturdy-looking snow bridges. Bill Sullivan led Larry Dunlap and Ruby Seitz to explore the Anderson Lakes trail and they, too, encountered challenging conditions such as steep drops, unmarked route and more creek crossings. Scott Hovis, Daphne James, Karen Chalmers and (skier) Laurie Funkhouser snow-shoed behind Bill’s group. During the night, the wind picked up to gale force and the snow just kept blowing. Needless to say, the views totally disappeared on Wednesday. Some crazies ventured out to test the new snow and went to the Snow Bowl hut (which burned down a few years ago and is currently being rebuilt and renamed the Phoenix Hut) to check out the Bowl. The skiing was disappointing for the telemarkers as they found the bowl was just an old clear cut that was now full of small trees and bushes. The others decided a day lounging around the hut appealed more.

All three nights we dined well on burritos with turkey and trimmings, coconut curry ramen with chicken and veggies, and Chef Sullivan’s offering of a proper Greek salad followed by eggplant parmesan. All this was accompanied by plentiful wine since we had hauled in three boxes.

We woke on Thursday to find about 2’ of new snow which, although powder, made the ski out a little harder than anticipated since the groomers were not scheduled to come back that day. Fortunately, though, the snow park had been plowed so we were able to drive out and celebrate our successful trip with a big breakfast in Ashford before heading home.

Members: Chris Stockdale, Bill Sullivan, Sue Wolling, Larry Dunlap, Laurie Funkhouser, Daphne James, Susan Wanser, Scott Hovis. Nonmembers: Ruby Seitz, Karen Chalmers.


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