The sun and clear skies that thawed-out the frozen slush on our roads Friday, also brought out the splendor of Mount Rainier. About a foot of snow now graces the lower elevations of Mt. Rainier National Park, creating superb conditions for all winter sports, particularly snow-shoeing.
Kautz Creek Trail, about four miles up the mountain from the Nisqually River entrance in Ashford, is an especially ideal trail for snow-shoeing, as it has a gentle slope and mild elevation gain. In addition, the trail is wider than most, which is vital in wintertime as tree branches hang low with snow, or are toppled altogether and force snow-shoers to wiggle, side-step or crawl under the impediments.
Snow-shoe rentals are available from the National Park at the nearby Longmire Lodge. Full-day rates are $14.00 per pair, and half-days, starting at 12:30 pm, are $11.50.
For the more adventurous backcountry snow-shoer, or the hundreds of family sledders heading to the slopes at Paradise, the road is currently open – which is often not the case when big snows inundate the road above Longmire and force lengthy closures for snow-plowing operations.
All pictures and copy by Bruce A. Smith
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