Hardy Ridge/Phlox Point snowshoe 27-Nov-2010

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VanMarmot
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Hardy Ridge/Phlox Point snowshoe 27-Nov-2010

Post by VanMarmot » November 29th, 2010, 8:07 am

By the Sunday following Thanksgiving, it became obvious that a hike would be necessary to work off what had been perhaps one too many helpings of excellent leftovers. Plus I needed an excuse to try out a new pair of snowshoes. The weather report implied (falsely as it turned out) that it might clear in the Gorge. If so, then a loop over Hardy Ridge would offer just the right combination of views and snow. The equestrian TH had a light dusting of snow,

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but by the turnoff to the trail up the west side of the ridge, the snow had deepened to 6” or better.

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I had planned to start trying the snowshoes on the west side trail but two people ahead of me (never seen) were doing such a good job of postholing and packing a trail that I ended-up following them and carrying the shoes all the way to the ridge crest. The winter wonderland effect, and the snow depth, just kept increasing as I climbed toward the ridge.

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Along the way I came across this little guy at the bottom of one of the postholes in the middle of the trail. Why he would want to wander around in the snow is beyond me - I thought they hibernated in the winter. Leaving him in a posthole obviously wouldn’t do, so I put him under some snow-free tree roots beside the trail.

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By the time I crested the ridge, it was becoming increasingly obvious that the weather wasn’t going to clear any time soon. It was foggy (I was climbing into a cloud) with visibility less than 100’. For time to time it would snow or sleet a bit.

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This is the same scene (taken a little closer to the trees and rock outcropping) back on November 3rd. At that time it was clear and sunny but the wind was howling to the point where it was hard to stand. Fortunately this time the wind was light, so wind chill wasn’t a big factor.

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The posthole trail headed down the east side of the ridge and I strapped on the snowshoes to head for Phlox Point. The use trail along the ridge ducks and weaves through a lot of vegetation before breaking free of the trees further N on the ridge. In the summer this use trail isn’t too hard to follow through the brush but a 2-4’ covering of new SOFT snow had pretty much obliterated most evidence of it.

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The expression “blanket of snow” really seems to apply to this snow-covered tree.

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After a lot of ducking and weaving, and more than a little routefinding, I broke out of the brush onto the open ridge. Even with the snowshoes, breaking trail through brush covered with soft snow had been a struggle and I was looking forward to finding more compact snow on the exposed ridge. Not so. Apparently there hadn’t been enough consolidating cold/warm cycles or rain or really strong winds to pack the snow on the ridge so, again, the snowshoes were essential.

Finally the “summit” of Phlox Point…

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where it had been windy, but apparently not enough to pack the snow.

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As I made my way back down the ridge, I passed five folks who were following my trail up - following a trail beaten down by five sets of snowshoes was a joy. I made a loop by heading down the eastside trail and then returning around the ridge along the road. Needless to say, the sky was socked in until just before I reached the car - then the clouds parted, the sun came out (briefly), and the snow covered valleys and peaks on the Oregon side of the Gorge were mightily illuminated.

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Another good hike - about half of it requiring snowshoes (or someone willing to posthole for you). There’s probably room now for that one last helping of leftovers…

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Crusak
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Re: Hardy Ridge/Phlox Point snowshoe 27-Nov-2010

Post by Crusak » November 29th, 2010, 11:01 am

What a difference 24 days makes! You and Jess and others who have been out snowshoeing lately really have me wanting to give that a try, as soon as I feel that my knee can handle it. Hopefully by January...

Just curious - your new snowshoes - what brand/model are they, and did you like them? I've been looking at a few different types and trying to educate myself before I take the plunge.

Thanks for sharing, that looks like it was a ton of fun.
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romann
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Re: Hardy Ridge/Phlox Point snowshoe 27-Nov-2010

Post by romann » November 29th, 2010, 11:47 am

It's beautiful up there!
I especially like the 2nd pic from the end - i was trying to capture something like this on Dog Mtn. in spring; the fog makes really good background in your picture.

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VanMarmot
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Re: Hardy Ridge/Phlox Point snowshoe 27-Nov-2010

Post by VanMarmot » November 29th, 2010, 3:17 pm

Crusak wrote: Just curious - your new snowshoes - what brand/model are they, and did you like them? I've been looking at a few different types and trying to educate myself before I take the plunge.
I bought a pair of MSR Lightening Ascent 25 snowshoes, based mainly on weight, durability, and manuverability. They floated me fine in the open and were compact enough to not get too tangled when I was thrashing through the brush. They also have a heel bail, which is nice if you're going up a slope for any length of time. Since these things are expensive it doesn't hurt to do a lot of shopping around for the make/model that will work for you.

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Crusak
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Re: Hardy Ridge/Phlox Point snowshoe 27-Nov-2010

Post by Crusak » November 29th, 2010, 3:23 pm

VanMarmot wrote:
Crusak wrote: Just curious - your new snowshoes - what brand/model are they, and did you like them? I've been looking at a few different types and trying to educate myself before I take the plunge.
I bought a pair of MSR Lightening Ascent 25 snowshoes, based mainly on weight, durability, and manuverability. They floated me fine in the open and were compact enough to not get too tangled when I was thrashing through the brush. They also have a heel bail, which is nice if you're going up a slope for any length of time. Since these things are expensive it doesn't hurt to do a lot of shopping around for the make/model that will work for you.
Thanks. I've looked at the larger version of these, I think they were the Lightning Ascent 30 (I'm a big guy & need the extra flotation). I think I'll rent a couple of different styles & give them a shot. Likely if I do buy some it'll be the Lightning Ascent, I like the features you described.
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Roy
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Re: Hardy Ridge/Phlox Point snowshoe 27-Nov-2010

Post by Roy » November 30th, 2010, 8:58 pm

Very nice report and photos I always enjoy them, you articulate your posts very well. And your always so good about giving out information.

Thanks for the snow shoe info I have been along time skier, skinner but thinking about looking into snowshoes. Do you think they would be better for my knees than skis ?


Tom
The downhill of the mind is harder than the uphill of the body. - Yuichiro Miura

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VanMarmot
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Re: Hardy Ridge/Phlox Point snowshoe 27-Nov-2010

Post by VanMarmot » December 2nd, 2010, 7:48 pm

Roy wrote:Thanks for the snow shoe info I have been along time skier, skinner but thinking about looking into snowshoes. Do you think they would be better for my knees than skis ?
Tom
Thanks!

I did a lot of snowshoeing in Colorado with rented snowshoes. These were always one size - too long - with the old style strap bindings. After a day dragging these around and having to compensate for bindings that didn't fit well, my knees were mush. So I think if the snowshoes are sized correctly - long enough for your weight but not too long - and the bindings fit well - so your lower legs aren't being rotated too much - your knees should be OK. I also use Merrell Isotherm boots - which give a little more ankle support - which seems to help ease the strain on my knees. If different places rent different kinds of snowshoes, you might be able to try different sizes/bindings to see what works best for you.

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Roy
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Re: Hardy Ridge/Phlox Point snowshoe 27-Nov-2010

Post by Roy » December 3rd, 2010, 8:20 pm

I weigh 200 pounds before the holidays :roll:

I have a pair plastic of mountaineering boots I use for crampons and back country skiing ,unfortunately my wheels are beginning to show the wear and tear over the years. So I do not use them much anymore .

Do you think they would work with snow shoes? I hate to let them go to waste. I normally hike in lite boots or New Balance runners.


Tom Na Roy
The downhill of the mind is harder than the uphill of the body. - Yuichiro Miura

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Re: Hardy Ridge/Phlox Point snowshoe 27-Nov-2010

Post by chloethelab » December 4th, 2010, 12:59 am

Just was up there today (Dec 3) - great time. Temp was warm - snow was cold - sky was blue. Couldn't ask for anything better. Even found a dry spot in the sun for a cup of coffee. Must say that this is one of my favorite spots in the area.
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