hiking · Travel

Winter Break Travel In The Snow

With two new books published in December, it was time for a get away. And Kirk and I even got to travel with a kid free trip, which of course we spent much of it waxing on about how much the boys would love the snow….oh well. We at least left them home in the snow we had gotten the day before (a shocking White Christmas, that rarely ever happens).

We went to Mount Rainier, and stayed at Alexander’s Lodge, where we had stayed before, a good 7 years before once.

The snow storms had stopped so the drive in was good. The weather inversions though that are common in late December and January were upon us. Where it is clear and sunny up high, but clouded over, in a bank of fog, down lower.

The property at the lodge is still as nice as ever, the pond was frozen over, but the waterfall at the end was running.

However, while we enjoyed our stay at the lodge, some things had changed in the time that had passed. The previous owners sold a few years back, and it is obvious that the new owners haven’t fully found their groove. Hopefully it will come. Winter is a hard time in the small town of Ashford. The communal hot tub was shut down, with no update on the website. The lodge needs some love, such as new paint….and couches that are not worn out. Still, it is close to the mountain, it’s warm, and well…it’s less than 2 miles to the park entrance. It’s also cheap in winter and you get breakfast included. We stayed this time in the upper turret room, which was 2 rooms total. It was pretty cool sleeping up there, in a circle. The death stairs were scary as all get out, meaning our boys would have found it hilarious to be in that room….

We spent time up in Rainier, before the snow level shot up a few thousand more feet. When Longmire gets snow in the winter, it should be enjoyed. It was perfect snow weather. Not icy, nor wet. And one didn’t need snowshoes, just warm boots. I love winter visits, when the crowds are low.

Trail of the Shadows is a nature walk in summer, but in winter feels so much more. In late winter it’s a great start to the Rampart Ridge hike, done on snowshoes. In winter you can see where the hares bound, and the deer come down for water.

The trail was well beaten and easy to walk on.

The iron springs, from the long ago hot springs, were gorgeous red in the snow.

In summer, the old Longmire cabin looks dark in the woods, but in winter? You might fantasize about living there…and ignore the chance of Hantavirus 😉

Iron spring by the cabin, it runs right by the foundation.

Snow skeleton sitting by a creek.

Another iron spring.

I love the PNW for its green. Even in the middle of winter there will always be something green.

The open meadows at Longmire.

The open areas are nearly always hot springs, under the ground, bubbling up.

If you bend over, or squat down, you can feel the warmth. It isn’t “hot” like at Yellowstone, but is warm. It wasn’t very stinky either on this day, which is always nice.

Kirk in the snow.

It wasn’t very cold, with the break in the snow. It was around 32*, with no wind. It was nice to do a hike kid free and just enjoying our time out there, taking a ton of photos and talking.