I want to also acknowledge all those who have contacted me about Scenic . . . and in most cases, volunteered to help out in some form. No, I haven't forgotten you . . . there is little, if anything, we can do while there is snow on the ground. But spring is coming and I have your contact information recorded and ready for the next clean-up party.
Saturday, Ryan and myself . . . along with several grad students from the UW . . . met for an impromptu snowshoe trek up. Little did we realize just how heavy the fabled Cascade Concrete can be, and how just a few hours of mild February sunlight can weaken the top crust of snow and make snowshoeing a reasonable facsimile of 'postholing' . . . at least for us heavier guys. The girls had no problem staying on top. Ryan, unfortunately, misjudged the nature of the snow crust and attempted to do it sans snowshoes and with a 50 pound pack! He postholed all the way up and really got a workout. I understand he was pretty sore at the NAC Swim later that night.
The berm produced by the snowplows this season seems a record high . . . seven to eight feet, and it continues all the way down the highway on both sides. Either you climb down and chance walking next to traffic, or you trust your sense of balance and hike the top of the berm all the way from the BN staging area down the highway (again, close to traffic a few feet away.)
On the way up FS850, snowshoe tracks lay evidence to a number of visitors recently. Most take the longer and easier route of the road and we try to stay in their tracks on the unstable snow. Some take their chances on the bypass like we did. It does cut off a lot of distance but is steep, narrow and very icy.
The beauty of virgin, undisturbed snow over the BPA clearcut looks like a snowshoer's idea of heaven. Five days earlier and I would have agreed . . . having made my own trails easily to the upper BPA road. As pretty as this stuff is, it's better to stick to the more-or-less packed down tracks of previous visitors.
To the right are tracks coming down from the first BPA tower. Those tracks would mean little to most people unless they knew there is an old trail coming up from the Surprise Creek Trailhead area. This is the back way into the area and known to few people . . . mainly because it is exceedly steep and especially difficult during winter. It's also easy to get lost with the loss of trail blazes over time. This trail was commonly used during those initial years after the enforced closure of the hot springs by the sheriff's department. Diehard Friends of Scenic would use this back route to evade detection.
heat in the Meadows Creek area
The trek down was much more difficult than the ascent. Snowshoes were an essential yet snowshoes are not very good on steep slopes. You have to remember to dig and plant the cleats in before transferring weight. Nonetheless, I found myself on my butt sliding down the slope more than a dozen times.