First-time snowshoeing on Multnomah Basin Road

This forum is used to share your experiences out on the trails.
Post Reply
User avatar
arlohike
Posts: 203
Joined: April 28th, 2014, 8:28 pm

First-time snowshoeing on Multnomah Basin Road

Post by arlohike » February 24th, 2019, 9:33 pm

I've never snowshoed before, but after an attempt at a low-elevation hike on the Herman Creek Trail last weekend led me into two-foot deep postholing, I figured this was a good time to give it a try. I bought an entry-level pair a few days ago and went with a friend up the Wahkeena and Devil's Rest trails try them out on Multnomah Basin and Palmer Mill roads.

We actually put them on just above the Devil's Rest trail junction, because there were no footprints since last night and the snow quickly got to 1-2' deep, increasing to 2-3' deep on Multnomah Basin Road. We saw Bosterson's tracks from yesterday on the basin road, but they were almost filled in already. By the time we got to Palmer Mill, we'd already been wearing them for a couple miles and I felt like it was a successful first try, so we turned around at that point and came back the same way.

Not long after turning back, we met a couple coming toward us. They thanked us for clearing a path with the snowshoes and we chatted about our destinations. Eventually we realized they thought they were following us to Devil's Rest! I figured if anyone was coming up behind us, they'd be disappointed when we turned off the route, but I didn't expect anyone would just follow our path. So on the way back, we drew a devil and an arrow pointing the right way. :)

The temperature was only 30 degrees and the air was still, so we didn't experience any snow bombs, but there were lots of smaller, snow-laden trees bent down over the trail blocking the path. In some cases we went under or around; in some cases I tapped them with a hiking pole and they sprung up like a mousetrap; and in some cases I misjudged and got a shower of fine powder raining onto my head. I started putting my hood up whenever walking under those. Fortunately there was no significant precipitation, and we stayed warm, dry and happy during our expedition.

I'm not really into snow sports or high mountain terrain, but it was really fun to experience this just a couple miles up the trail from the highway.

IMG_8778.jpg
This was the snow depth at Wahkeena Spring...
IMG_8780.jpg
...but this was more typical for that elevation.
IMG_8787.jpg
Toward the top of the Devil's Rest climb, we had one section of dense blockage...
IMG_8788.jpg
...but this was a more typical feature.
IMG_8795.jpg
Multnomah Basin Road with one visible set of footprints from yesterday.
IMG_8797.jpg
The snow was stuck to the tree trunks as well as the boughs up there.
IMG_8814.jpg
We're not artists, but hopefully this helped someone.
TrailCheck (iOS / Android)
Elevation Tracker (iOS / Apple Watch)

User avatar
Bosterson
Posts: 1998
Joined: May 18th, 2009, 3:17 pm
Location: Portland

Re: First-time snowshoeing on Multnomah Basin Road

Post by Bosterson » February 24th, 2019, 10:43 pm

Nice! Snowshoeing is great when you have conditions like this. If you get into it and find yourself going up steep terrain in the future, I recommend upgrading to MSRs, which are worth the extra $ for the amazing crampon as well as the Televator heel bars. :)

Did you end up going west on the Angel's Rest trail? I ask cause Wahkeena Spring is west of where the the trail comes up from below, and the trail in that area was very well tracked and pretty slushy - I didn't see anything that deep when I came up from the Wakheena trail - unless people just aren't going west past the Wahkeena trail junction and no track has been broken. Re "one visible set of footprints from yesterday," are those my snowshoe tracks you said you saw? (I didn't come back on Basin Rd so it would have just been one set of steps.) Crazy that they're mostly filled in 24 hrs later, though I guess not surprising with all the new snow that was coming down. So you followed my track all the way to the gate at Palmer Mill Rd?
Not long after turning back, we met a couple coming toward us. They thanked us for clearing a path with the snowshoes and we chatted about our destinations. Eventually we realized they thought they were following us to Devil's Rest!
Ugh, this is the problem with people on the Multnomah-Wahkeena loop. No prior experience with the trail (up on the "rim" the Devil's Rest trail does not randomly turn off into the forest) + no sense of direction or navigational aids. I came down via the Vista Pt trail for variety and just as I was coming to the Wahkeena trail again I saw a guy with no pack, no water, no emergency gear - nothing, just wearing a jacket - poring over the trail "map" nailed to the post and then heading up into the snow zone... :roll: Glad to hear your got your people turned around hopefully so they didn't get lost in Multnomah Basin. :?
Will hike off trail for fun.

User avatar
Chip Down
Posts: 1827
Joined: November 8th, 2014, 8:41 pm

Re: First-time snowshoeing on Multnomah Basin Road

Post by Chip Down » February 25th, 2019, 5:32 am

Cute devil! :D
And yeah, the mousetrap is fun, until it gets you.

User avatar
arlohike
Posts: 203
Joined: April 28th, 2014, 8:28 pm

Re: First-time snowshoeing on Multnomah Basin Road

Post by arlohike » February 25th, 2019, 7:57 am

Bosterson wrote:
February 24th, 2019, 10:43 pm
Did you end up going west on the Angel's Rest trail? I ask cause Wahkeena Spring is west of where the the trail comes up from below, and the trail in that area was very well tracked and pretty slushy - I didn't see anything that deep when I came up from the Wakheena trail - unless people just aren't going west past the Wahkeena trail junction and no track has been broken.
We came up the Wahkeena Trail and then just took the brief detour west to Wahkeena Spring. The snow was unexpectedly deep there, and all westward footprints stopped there ... nobody had yet taken that route to Angel's Rest. This was about 9:30 in the morning, so maybe someone tried it later in the day. But coming down the Devil's Rest Trail, we only met two or three others coming up, and the parking lot was half empty when we finished, so it was probably the slowest Sunday I've seen on this trail.
Bosterson wrote:
February 24th, 2019, 10:43 pm
Re "one visible set of footprints from yesterday," are those my snowshoe tracks you said you saw? (I didn't come back on Basin Rd so it would have just been one set of steps.) Crazy that they're mostly filled in 24 hrs later, though I guess not surprising with all the new snow that was coming down. So you followed my track all the way to the gate at Palmer Mill Rd?
That's right, just one set of prints. You had said you took an off-trail route from Wahkeena Trail up to Devil's Rest Trail, so I was looking for your tracks departing the trail, but saw nothing. In fact we saw no other footsteps until your faint set on the basin road; is that where you put on snowshoes? If so, it seems like regular footprints were completely gone from the previous night, and even showshoe prints were mostly filled in.

And yes, we just went as far as the Palmer Mill gate. I had imagined going up Palmer Mill Road for a while, but it was starting to feel like enough for one day. But if Palmer Mill to the right, and the old roads between there and Devil's Rest, hadn't been decommissioned, we'd have been motivated to tag Devil's Rest before heading back.
TrailCheck (iOS / Android)
Elevation Tracker (iOS / Apple Watch)

User avatar
Don Nelsen
Posts: 3718
Joined: May 28th, 2008, 10:03 pm
Location: Vancouver, WA

Re: First-time snowshoeing on Multnomah Basin Road

Post by Don Nelsen » February 25th, 2019, 8:09 am

Great job Arlo! Really nice devil sign, too. Thanks for the TR and pics.

I'd not snowshoed until the winter of '01/'02 and really got hooked. You learn a lot each time you go and in little time one figures out technique/equipment/etc. and it gets even more fun.

Ditto what Bos said about MSR: I still use my original pair from 18 years ago and in hundreds of miles, they've only broken once and I fixed the break on the trail well enough to get back and MSR made the fix permanent on warranty. I used to go to Seattle on business almost every week so I stopped by the main MSR headquarters and they fixed them on the spot and gave me the extra parts. Great folks, to say the least.

dn
"Everything works in the planning stage".

User avatar
Bosterson
Posts: 1998
Joined: May 18th, 2009, 3:17 pm
Location: Portland

Re: First-time snowshoeing on Multnomah Basin Road

Post by Bosterson » February 25th, 2019, 9:15 am

arlohike wrote:
February 25th, 2019, 7:57 am
You had said you took an off-trail route from Wahkeena Trail up to Devil's Rest Trail, so I was looking for your tracks departing the trail, but saw nothing. In fact we saw no other footsteps until your faint set on the basin road; is that where you put on snowshoes? If so, it seems like regular footprints were completely gone from the previous night, and even showshoe prints were mostly filled in.
Check the map at the bottom of my TR. I turned left onto the Angel's Rest trail at the top of Wahkeena, and before I reached the Devil's junction I turned right and headed straight up a hill to a ridge I spied from below. (This is basically the NE edge of the Devil's cirque. I put on snowshoes right as I started up the hill cause the snow was deep after I left the trail.) I crossed the ridge and popped onto the Devil's trail, which I followed to the old road junction that heads south to Basin Rd and thence to Palmer Mill.

Angel's was tracked slush, and Devil's had a well-trod track up to the plateau above. After that it was still a track heading towards Devil's Rest but the snow was deeper around it. It was actually raining at the Devil's trail (vs snowing higher up by Larch) so it's surprising the tracks filled in so fully that low.

FYI for next time: decommissioned roads don't matter if there's a couple of feet of snow on top of them. :D
Will hike off trail for fun.

User avatar
arlohike
Posts: 203
Joined: April 28th, 2014, 8:28 pm

Re: First-time snowshoeing on Multnomah Basin Road

Post by arlohike » February 25th, 2019, 10:40 am

Bosterson wrote:
February 25th, 2019, 9:15 am
FYI for next time: decommissioned roads don't matter if there's a couple of feet of snow on top of them. :D
I considered that, but it looked potentially more dangerous with snow hiding all the random logs and branches the crews dragged across the road. I suppose we could have just made a beeline to the summit, because I don't think there'd be any big terrain features to navigate around from that point, but I didn't think of that at the time.
TrailCheck (iOS / Android)
Elevation Tracker (iOS / Apple Watch)

Post Reply