If you’re like me, even if I enjoy something tremendously just as it was— next go around I’m looking to jazz it up; add a bit of a challenge; or just change it up for my memory’s sake.
Midnight Moonlight Snowshoeing was just what I was looking for! My friends and I teamed up with Rare Earth Adventures for an evening snowshoeing guided by the light of the full moon...er except it was cloudy. A full moon would have been a gorgeous addition to our night but the lack of it didn’t cast a shadow over our night, and our headlamps were perfectly adequate for the task.
The price included round trip transportation, snow park permits, guide, gear, snacks and beverages. Our van took us to Trillium Lake on Mt Hood. We geared up in our snowshoes, grabbed our poles, hand warmers, headlamps and backpacks that carried water and a few tasty “extras”; and set off under the fleeting light of the full moon.
The main trails tend to be so packed down that snowshoes really aren’t necessary. As you descend down the main path into the interior of the park, veer off the packed path and put those snowshoes to good use. Snowshoes are to designed to disperse your weight evenly over a large surface so when you step down into the cold soft snow your foot— and therefor you, don't sink waste deep.
One safety precaution we learned was to be watchful of the tree wells, where the snow has warmed up and receded or sunk around the base of trees. This snowy area is the least predictable as far as stability because of it's tendency to warm and soften.
We hiked for about an hour and yes you can move pretty quickly with snowshoes on, you can even run in them! The first 20 minutes were the coldest on our hands, even with hand warmers, but within 20 minutes of hiking they warmed up.
About an hour in we came across some cabins in Summit Meadows. These cabin can be rented year round and you can snowshoe, cross country ski, sled, or simply relax and look out at the falling snow.
Just beyond our path we noticed, in the dark distance,what appeared to be an igloo. So we did as any good explorer would have and trekked over to take a look. It was an igloo with a beautiful warm fire burning in the center and a solid packed snow bench circling the perimeter with walls that reached over our heads. It was the perfect place to stop and uncork a few bottles of wine while getting to know our hiking companions a little better. We even had some cabin dwellers come join us for a breath of fresh air and oddly enough a song or two.
After tapping out the whiskey and realizing we were out of firewood we decided now was a good time to trek back to the van. To our surprise, but not to our guides, the trek back was 3/4 of the way up hill! My disclaimer here would be the whiskey will either help power you up the hill or numb you enough that you won't notice when your digits start to freeze.
Moonlight snowshoeing was a beautiful, peaceful and highly enjoyable. My take big away was— why did we think we had to moonlight snowshoe at midnight? We could have easily enjoyed the moonlight by 8pm!
Just remember if you're not familiar with the terrain, be safe use a guide like Rare Earth Adventures, or any other of the guides that responsibly tackle these adventures.