Trip Report    

Basic Snowshoe Rampart Ridge

Counter-clockwise from Longmire. A few inches of new snow. Well-broken by us and two other parties to Ridge trail past the little tarn lake. Back out same way.

  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • A few inches of new snow. Well-broken by us and two other parties to Ridge trail past the little tarn lake. We came back out same way.

This Basic Snowshoe trip was intended primarily for those who had taken the Basic Snowshoe course this year to complete the requirement that they go on Mountaineers-led snowshoe trips in order to get the Basic Snowshoe badge.  The route published on the schedule was Narada Falls to Reflection and Louise Lakes.  At 3:50 p.m. the day before the trip, the National Park Service announced that the Longmire Gate would remain closed the next day due to forecast weather.  Measurable snow was expected on the roads from Eatonville to the Park, and snow "heavy at times" in the Park.  We went to Plan B.

The participants were emailed that evening and informed our meeting time was pushed back to 10:00 a.m., to allow travel in daylight and perhaps after snow removal.  Our Plan B route was the Rampart Ridge trail from Longmire, starting counter-clockwise, and coming back out the same way.  The avalanche forecast gave the conditions as "considerable" near treeline.  Our selected route avoided the avalanche terrain along the upper part of the trail.

In the Longmire parking lot, the leader, assistant leader and the three participants had a tailgate trailhead meeting.   All three participants had taken the current year's Basic Snowshoe course, and success on this trip would satisfy their requirements for the Basic Snowshoe badge.  We were very fortunate to have an RN who works in a hospital trauma unit volunteer as first aid person, and even more fortunate not to need him.  Assistant Leader Katherine Forsyth gave the group an avalanche briefing and explanation of the day's avalanche problems.  She volunteers with the NorthWest Avalanche Center  and had spent the previous afternoon doing trailhead outreach with the forecaster who was then composing the forecast for the day of this trip.  We planned to do an avalanche transceiver search exercise, and had three avalanche transceivers.  We went over procedures for turning on,  selecting mode and checking the transceivers, and how and where they should be carried or worn.  By 11:00 we had snowshoes on and were on the trail.

Longmire had just a few inches of new snow, and not much base.  About ten minutes out, we crossed the road, and saw signs, which had been mentioned in a WTA trip report a few weeks earlier, warning of a mountain lion sighting in the area.  According to a Nordic ski patroller, the trails had been closed for about two weeks, and the cat was now believed to have moved on.  

We gained some elevation and a good bit more snow.  We found a good stretch of trail for our avvy search exercise.   While leader Mike Forsyth went over how to search with the transceivers and use the probe, assistant leader Katherine Forsyth went out of sight and did a real "leave no trace" job of burying a transmitting transceiver in a zippered notebook binder, providing a 12" x 12" target for a probe.  Running the search was not easy, and required a couple of passes before we could bracket with the transceivers and get a point to start probing.  The transceiver was then quickly found with the probe and uncovered, all within the fifteen minute "golden window".  The recent basic snowshoe graduates were impressed by how this stuff really does work, and felt some confidence in the basic use of these tools in a field situation.


We continued up the trail through some switchbacks and past the junction with the Van Trump trail, then stopped for a trailside lunch.  By now, snow was "heavy at times", and not much in the way of views was to be had.  We continued up to the junction of the Rampart Ridge trail and the Wonderland trail, where another party had stopped.  They were obliging enough to take our group photo by the nearly buried trail mileage sign.


A bit further along the Ridge trail, we found a path to the shore of a small alpine lake or tarn.  We walked down by the shore in the now heavily falling snow, and found it a most peaceful and serene spot.  Shortly after, we headed back down.  We passed the Rampart Ridge-Wonderland junction at 2:00 p.m., and were off the trail back at Longmire at 3:00 sharp.  We covered a bit over 4.5 miles, gained about 1,200 feet of elevation, and spent about a half hour on a successful avalanche rescue exercise. The biggest accomplishment of the day was that three new Basic Snowshoers qualified for their badges.