We decided to take a hiking trip last weekend at Stevens Pass. We bought snowshoes last year but never really got to use them. I wanted to take them out at least once before the snow melts. I packed some hiking gear into my Lowepro backpack and put my 50mm macro and 50-200mm in my camera vest and carried my E-3 + 12-60mm. I decided to use my vest for easy access to my lenses so I wouldn't have to dig through my backpack every time I wanted to switch lenses. I was able to fasten the snowshoes to the back of the pack, putting the tip of one of the shoes in the pocket that's made for holding a tripod. It wasn't a perfect fit but it did the job. One thing that annoys me about the Lowepro pack is that two different types of clips are used on the bag. It would have made things a lot easier if they were all the same design. Instead I ended up having to tie two of the straps into a knot to hold the snowshoes in place. Mark brought along his new Boda Bag which seemed to hold everything he needed.
We decided to check out Lake Lanham, which is located at the East end of the Stevens Pass Nordic Center, about 5 miles East of the pass. Neither of us had been there but was pretty sure there would be plenty of snow. Unfortunately since the weather has been so nice there wasn't really any powder. The snow was hard and packed down. At least the trail was easy to spot. The hike was listed as being 3 miles roundtrip but sure seemed like a lot more. It always seems that way when you're going up hill in snow/ice.
The first 1/4 mile of the trail was very icy and there was much slipping and sliding. At one point, while trying to pick something up, my water bottle slipped out of my vest and slid down the trail a good ways. Was starting to wonder if it would ever stop, Eventually it did. I decided it was a good time to get my YakTrax on. I put them on and they worked like a charm. I didn't take them off until we got back to the car. Unfortunately I didn't get to use my snowshoes. Mark didn't have any Yaktrax so put on his snowshoes for traction and that seemed to work well so at least he got to use his.
It was a beautiful day for a hike. It was sunn, not a cloud in the sky and the temp was in the mid-50's though it seemed warmer than that. At one point we crossed a cross country ski trail and watched a few skiers fly by. We continued on into the forest and walks up and up and up. The trail split several times. It was hard to tell which was the "real" trail, but it didn't seem to matter because all the trails ended up going to the same place. We took a few different routes coming back than we had going and it worked out. For it being such a nice day, we were expecting to see a lot more people on the trail but there were surprisingly few.
We eventually made it to the lake which was completely snow covered and sparkling in the sun. There were footprints around the perimeter of the lake but none going across it. Who knows how thick the ice/snow was. People were probably too afraid to find out if it was safe or not. We found a spot to sit down and relax for a bit and enjoy the sunshine and view of the snow covered mountains around us before heading back. We sure made good time coming back since it was pretty much all downhill.
We hiked a lot longer than planned and only had a Cliff Bar for lunch. It was around 3 by the time we got back to Sultan so decided to stop at the Sultan Bakery for some split pea soup and bread. Mmm Here's a few pics from the trip.