Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Castle Peak Recreation Area

Wednesday, February 22nd


I went snowshoeing today (with an REI group).
It was fun!

We're Off!

Stopped to shoot. I'm second from the right, being attacked by my blue bandana.

The instructor behind the lens in the previous shot. Normally one cannot park along this road where we did. How Low the Snow!
This gate is normally something you'd snowshoe right over.
We left the trail to cross this creek bed

Castle Peak

Stomped snow! This is where we practiced going down and up hills. That's my big ol' butt print in the middle of the frame.
Critter needs to clean up his front porch! We saw coyote tracks, small footed fox tracks, squirrel tracks, and one live chickadee, flitting around in the woods.
Andesite Ridge in the background.
We ate lunch just to the left of that knob behind good old what-is-face.
The moss stops where the snow usually comes. 12 feet low this year.
My feet. You can see how damp the snow is.
A little meadow inhabited by the sad remnants of snow-people.
ACK! Running water in the creek!? Spring has sprung in Feb this year.
Super cool igloos. 2 finished, one underway in the foreground. I hope whoever the architects are get to come back and finish the third one.
We took lots of breaks.
Hat, anyone?
We finally, at the end of the trip, came back to the stomped-flat trail.

Included in the class fee was gaiter, pole, and snowshoe rental. I had my own poles (Gossamer Gear poles with the Leki snow baskets on them) but used the rest of the equipment on offer.

MSR Ascent snowshoes (I believe 26? not sure). The shoes had every kind of aggressive traction device known to man. So there was very little slipping going on. But I would have been sunk (literally) in powder. The bindings were easy to adjust and stayed put on my feet. They collected surprisingly little snow on the deck. I did sometimes step on my own shoes but that is something more practice will cure.
It seems strange to me that REI rents out shoes they don't currently sell. Anyway. They were fine.

OR gaiters in large. Since I was using my usual hiking shoes, the gaiters were rather large on my feet. And since I have Calves of Steel (or at least well exercised and well-fed calves) they were almost too small around my calves. If I decide to take up snowshoeing for real, I'll be making my own custom gaiters.

Shoes. I do not have waterproof shoes. And I was darned if I was going to run out and buy shoes for a sport I didn't even know if I'd like. So I just used the shoes I had (Inov8 Roclite 295). My toes got a little damp, but my cushy Smartwool socks and exertion kept them warm. At lunch break I was prepared to switch to a dry pair of socks, but by the time I'd sat 15 minutes with my feet propped up in the sun, they were dry. I love mesh shoes and wool socks.

Poles. Really were invaluable. My left pole sometimes did not hold adjustment and after I observed my behaviour a little bit I realised that I was slightly twisting that pole as I yanked it out of the snow. Once I stopped twisting, it stopped creeping. I have read that some folks find the Leki baskets a little small (GG uses Leki tips on their poles) but since I don't know any better I was perfectly content.

Clothing. I wore my old Terry coolweather bicycle tights and the lightest weight of Ibex merino shirt. A ball cap and fingerless gloves. I was plenty warm. I also had my wool Buff around my neck which served more as sun protection than as warmth. (It was about 60 degrees at 1pm)
I had a midweight Ibex shirt and a polyfil jacket as well as my Packa (a nifty combo of a pack cover and rain jacket) but did not use them. My laboriously remodeled bibs also stayed attached to my pack.

We started near the freeway at the bottom of the map, headed off trail north, then swung around west and south to catch the trail again. We went probably less than 5 miles total.

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