Good for the body, good for the soul
Posted by joeabbott on June 7, 2011
This past weekend I went out snowshoeing in a little valley on the NE side of Mt. Rainer called Summer Land. While I’ve climbed Rainier a number of times, my objective on this outing was of much smaller scope: Goat Island Mountain. Let’s just say that Goat Island Mountain is of so little repute that it’s better I open with the view up the valley looking at Mount Rainier.
We headed out late on Saturday: I got picked up around 10 AM. From there we made a circuitous route to the White River Road on Mt. Rainier’s NE side.
The way in looked dry and parched; not at all the snowy outing we were expecting. Part of the sere look was due to brilliantly sunny skies and temps in the 70s. The other part was that it was just bone dry and not a patch of snow was to be seen until we were nearly to the park entrance.
We parked with another half dozen cars next to the Fryingpan Creek bridge, suited up, and headed in.
Our party was four strong: Adam and Jacob were on skis, Aaron and I were on snowshoes.
The way in was mostly across intermittently wet and icy compact snow. The skiers wore their skis but the snow was consolidated enough that Aaron and I went in carrying our ‘shoes. As we broke out of the trees and into Summer Land, we saw the view above. Absolutely gorgeous.
From there we popped on the snowshoes and threaded up and to the left, just under the tree line on the lower left in the picture. Adam and I shared a tent, while Jacob and Aaron each had their own small tents.
The evening went about like normal: you spend a bunch of time melting and filtering/boiling/sterilizing snow into water, you talk a bit and prepare your gear, and then you head to sleep. I was first in and dropped off immediately. I wasn’t used to that much exertion!
We woke up the next day to a sky full of clouds and the promise of more on the horizon. After a leisurely breakfast, we headed out toward Goat Island Mountain, but on the way up I stopped to snap a picture of a dramatic looking Little Tahoma and K Spire, satellite volcanic vents off the main body of Mt. Rainier.
The four of us headed up but, at the saddle, Aaron opted to await our return while enjoying the beautiful views. This reminded me of the Fred Beckey quote that went something like, “pain is the currency of beauty.” It seems Aaron had felt he’d paid sufficiently for the views he was getting!
Adam, Jacob and I continued up the long rolling slope of Goat Island Mountain. As you can see in the picture below, it’s just a long, gently rolling hill. Our start to the “climb” was on the left hand side, just to the right of the snowy rock outcropping.
We had set a turn-around time of 11 AM as we had to return in time for Adam to pick someone up at the train station, but we were making good time. At 10 AM we decided that getting to the true summit wasn’t objection-worthy and we headed down. If the day were beautiful, if the peak were notable, or if it wasn’t so much work tromping along on snowshoes! While it’s better than post-holing every other step, it’s a darned nuisance.
I somewhat regret not topping out but, to be honest … it was just Goat Island Mountain!
So, at 10 we turned, sloughed off the mountain (literally … I was wading in so much wet snow that I had to take off the ‘shoes to avoid getting pulled along. Once they were off I was able to tromp down proper!
But, we broke down camp quickly, packed up the gear, and were on the way out lickety split. Before you knew it, we were back at the cars and I was home by 4 PM or so.
It was a nice, quick outing. Perfect!