Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Chasing The Moon On Skyline Ridge

Feb 19, 2011
After a fun and photo-filled hike to Wallace Falls, Rob and I headed up to Steven's Pass to undertake a nighttime snowshoe up Skyline Ridge.

Skyline Ridge is located at Steven's Pass on Hwy 2, across the highway from the Steven's Pass ski area.

There are pros and cons to night-time adventures along Skyline Ridge.

The downside to any kind of night-time adventure on Skyline Ridge is that it isn't really dark. The lights from the nighttime skiing at the ski area do a pretty good job of illuminating the scenery on the ridge. If you are seeking a snowshoe outing in the dark... then you'll have to wait until night skiing is over, or consider finding a different destination.

The updside to Skyline Ridge at night is its easy access from Hwy 2 and the fact that you quickly gain elevation to rise above the highway and trees.

There were three main incentives that prompted this particular night time outing.

1) The weather was cooperating. Virtually cloudless skies. Everywhere!
2) The moon was just beyond the 'full moon' status and the moonrise was scheduled for just a short while after sunset
3) Doing a nighttime snowshoe outing has been on my To-Do list for a couple years. Here was my opportunity!

Loaded with camera gear, and fatigued muscles from the earlier hike, we arrived at Steven's Pass around 4:30pm or so. Put on our warmest clothes, donned the snowshoes and began our ascent just as the Alpenglow started to become prominent.

Knowing that we didn't need to be back to the car before dark meant we could take our time on the ascent. Before we knew it, our route left the road and we began a straight line trek up the hill.

The views and scenery continued to improve as the the highway fell away with the light.

About a mile into our journey we came across a suitable location to set up our 'photo camp' and... wait.

Wait? Wait for what? Well, the moonrise of course.

Sitting around on a mountain ridge (wishing for a thermos of Starbucks) quickly led to discussion and speculation about the moonrise. Such a discussion might have sounded a little bit like this:

R: When was the moon going to rise?
E: Well, some weather website indicated moonrise was supposed to be at about 5:52pm.

R: Which direction would the moon be rising from?
E: Well, the East I guess. Over there (pointing in a generally eastern direction).

R: There seems to be a big ridge over to the east. Ya know, with a ski area on it. It looks pretty tall from here.
E: The 5:52 moonrise probably isn't taking into account that fact. We might have to wait a bit longer for the moon to rise 'that' far up into the sky.

R: A 'bit' longer?
E: Probably.

R: Yeah. That seems pretty logical. Hopefully a 'bit' is like, 5 mintues. Did you notice that it's a little cold out tonight?
E: Uh huh. Maybe you can find an App on your phone that will confirm the moonrise time?

R: Good idea. (Consults with high tech mobile device). Yep. Moonrise at 5:52. That's no help. Doesn't your GPS have this data on it too?
E: Hey! I think it does. Let me check. (Wipes frost off GPS, locates moon/sun icon). You're right! It says the moonrise is at 8:01pm. It also says 'current location'... maybe it's telling us that from our specific coordinates the moon will rise in ... about two hours.


Eventually we agree that we'll hang out and enjoy the scenery until 7:00pm or so and if there is no sign of the moon then we'll call it quits.

So, we took some pics while we waited.

Eventually we wiped the frost off our packs and our cameras, packed it up and called a night.

On the descent by headlight we made a quick visit to an Igloo someone had left standing. Very spacious and well constructed. A perfect place to overnight, but not tonight.

Back to the car, cranked up the heat and concluded the day with some good Thai food in Monroe.

GPS Route and Map:

Only about 2miles round trip and 580 feet of elevation gain.

Skyline Lake, at the top of Skyline Ridge, is a great winter destination for snowshoeing. I've been there numerous times with numerous people, including the founders of EverGreen Escapes. Pics and trip report for that daytime trip are available here.

Recommendations for people considering a nighttime snow shoe outing: Dress warmly from head to toe, bring even MORE clothes, bring a thermos of HOT beverages, something to sit on and try to figure out what time the moonrise might be for 'that' location. Don't forget the camera and the tripod too.

Next outing is March 19th. Depending on weather conditions, might try another night time snowshoe, this time to Artist Point.

Happy Trails!


No comments:

Post a Comment