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Trip Report    

Basic Snowshoe - Reflection Lakes

Sunshine, mountain views and a blustery day had all of these snowshoers smiling and shivering as they made their way to the frozen over Reflection Lakes area.

  • Snow and ice on road
  • The trip leaders and participants were grateful the weather forecast changed a bit from the night before! The forecast called for temps in the single digits and going into the negative range with the wind chill values. By morning, the wind chill factor improved with lighter wind speeds and a "promise" for the wind to decrease as the day progressed.

    New snow had fallen earlier in the week and we weren't sure how the trail conditions were going to be as the gate is closed during the week for this winter season. We had a few other groups that started before us so we had a trail broken until the junction on Stevens Canyon Road. Everyone was traveling the road on this day and our plan was to take the forest trail as this is a Basic Snowshoe trip. We felt it was better to travel amongst the trees for a potential windbreak and that did pay off. The snow was sooooooooo fluffy that breaking trail was actually fun!

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Energy was high as everyone waited for the gate to open at Longmire Sunday morning. You could feel the vibes from all the cars and folks ready to enjoy fresh new snow and sunshine! We traveled along with the caravan of cars and turned off at the Narada Falls parking lot as the majority of folks continued onward up to Paradise.

Folks enjoyed the use of the Comfort Station/Warming Hut found at this parking lot and easy access to our trail. A bit of a luxury compared to the mad house of Paradise on a sunny weekend day!

Following the Paradise River amongst the evergreen trees all coated in fluffy, dry snow had us all enjoying getting to know each other and excited for the flow of this day. We had three folks who will be completing their Snowshoe Badge with the Tacoma Branch after this trip so everyone was extra excited for them.

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We shared turns breaking trail as we left the Stevens Canyon Road junction. Folks enjoyed this and breather breaks as we began our climb up to the upper ridge. We had some backcountry skiers skinning up and we let them pass. One of the skiers dug a test pit and we took the time to look and talk about avalanche conditions. Folks were happy to see the "MLK layer" that has been referenced on the NWAC reports and learn what that meant.

We enjoyed many views of Mt. Tahoma along the way and some sun sneaking through the trees. A group of overnight campers were climbing their way out and mentioned it was a VERY chilly night! They were glad to get warm with their physically efforts. Our group made our way down to the Reflection Lakes area and everyone was ready for lunch and a break. We tried to find a spot with a view of Mt. Tahoma/Rainier, but the sun is still low this time of year and wind gusts were a deterrent. So, we took some time for photos and then found a nice spot out of the wind and great views of the frozen lake and Tatoosh Range. Folks had fun visiting and talking about their go-to winter outing lunch necessities and/or ways to keep things somewhat hot!


The climb out through the forest was a bit busier with folks still coming in for the day. After making our way up and back down to the Stevens Canyon Road, the group decided to snowshoe down the road a bit to enjoy the views of Eagle, Chutla, Wahpenayo and Plummer Peaks. We also watched some skiers blissfully skiing the slope down to the Narada Falls Parking lot.

Our last half mile was pretty quick due to the downhill and the fact that folks were ready to be out of the chilled air. Several of us did decide to drop our snowshoes off at our vehicles and head down for the view of Narada Falls. We opted for our micro spikes and poles and this worked perfectly. Definitely we travelled with much more ease than the folks going down in their converse tennis shoes! 

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Visiting this waterfall in winter was a first for several in our group and they were truly in awe. Basking in the ice forms, colors and sounds we paused a bit and enjoyed this marvelous ending to our day. I know everyone will be returning to this fantastic trail before the snow melts!!! Thanks for making it a treasure of day!!!!