Snowshoeing Winter 2015

Donut Falls

This is a perennial hiking favorite for the Wasatch Front. S and I have done this trek many, many times in the summer but never attempted it in the winter. I started snowshoeing this past winter (see Green’s Basin below) and by the end of winter convinced S to give it a try as well. We’ve both enjoyed having an activity to get us outdoors in the winter months and love having an excuse to get out of the valley and the inversions.

It was a beautiful day with light clouds, the temperature was in the high 20s and a fresh snowfall had went through the mountains a few days before. Perfect snowshoe conditions!

The normal terminus for this hike is at the base of the waterfall that the trail is named after. This past winter the entire waterfall was covered in snow and you could hike up to the cave which forms the “donut” in Donut Falls. I ventured into the cave itself and found a warm subterranean pocket of water. It was a fun experience.

After some much needed coffee, the trail home couldn’t have provided a better view.

Green’s Basin

I did this hike with the Wasatch Mountain Club on the day after Thanksgiving. It was a large group that hit the trail, roughly 30 people, which isn’t too surprising given the holiday and fresh powder that had fallen the days before. The trail is several miles long to the basin but easy to follow as it hugs the mountain upwards with few switchbacks and a gradual incline.

A few weeks before this trip I purchased  a pair of MSR Ascent Lightning Snowshoes.  This was the their first real test and I came out of the canyon very pleased with their performance. The crampons provide excellent traction on the way up and down. Their light weight meant my legs weren’t destroyed by the end of the hike either.

I bought the 30″ at REI: MSR Lightning Ascent. I also picked up the 6″ extensions but have not used them yet. There hasn’t been a real need for them in the snow level situations I’ve been in.

This was the first winter where I’ve built a winter kit. The center piece being a  Patagonia Snowdrift 20L — which was the perfect size for a day on the trails. There was enough room for extra layers of clothes, food, specialized compartments for a water bladder and snow goggles. The snowshoe extensions fit nicely in the pack as well. The left strap has an insulated cover for your bladder hose which is a great idea for a winter pack.

When we made it to Green’s Basin the view opens up, behind us is the canyon we came from and in the front is the basin. In the corner of the basin is an old mining cabin, now decrepit and almost entirely covered with snow.

It was one person’s birthday in the group and they surprisingly brought enough champagne and cups for the entire party! It was an amazing experience to sip champagne as the sun peeked over the snowy mountains and basin.

Circle All Peak via Butler Fork

I was able to make another hike with the Wasatch Mountain Club last Thursday. We ventured to Circle All Peak in Big Cottonwood Canyon. The trail is relatively short, about 3 miles round trip, but the elevation gain is roughly 1600′.

There was lots of smoke from the wildfires in California, Oregon and Washington (pretty much the whole state of Jefferson is on fire at the moment). We briefly entered the Mount Olympus Wilderness area on this hike.

It was another great experience with the club. It was also a humbling experience as I realized how much better shape I need to be to take this hobby to the next level. Several of the hikers in this group flew up the mountain with little effort, whereas I was sucking air after about 1000′ in elevation gain. I made it though and the views were still magnificent despite all the smoke.