December 23, 2021
Start/end: original trailhead on Snow Mtn Rd
Elevation gain: 2575′
I headed to the trailhead in the early afternoon, nervous to see if I would find it plowed or gated. I was relieved to find it open and mostly plowed; the last third of the road hadn’t been plowed since the 3-4″ snowfall a few days before. I carefully made my way down the logging road and made myself a parking spot on the side of the road.
It was incredibly cold at 0 actual at the start and a windchill of -30 at the summit. I hadn’t hiked in weather this cold in a very long time and my electronics struggled to stay warm enough to function in the outside pocket of my shell. I wore snowshoes the whole way, which was most useful higher up where there were deeper drifts.
I accidently blew past the herdpath turn-off of the old logging road and added a bit of distance to the hike but the trails were easy to follow, even in the snow. There was a steep section with black ice underneath it that was rather scary on the way back down, especially as my headlamp batteries were starting to die so I didn’t have full visibility. I made it down without getting hurt or stuck, though I got rather wet from falling and sliding. I was very happy to get back to my car, though I initially had a bit of trouble getting back into my car. The key battery was too cold to work initially, and the one door with keyed entry had ice in it and wouldn’t allow me to use the key to open it. I warmed the key in my hand and then tried it again; thankfully, it worked that time.
The intense cold on this hike awoke my deep animal anxiety – I have Raynaud’s and my hands and feet can become extremely painful in the cold. It also puts me at a higher risk of frostbite and tissue damage in the cold due to reduced blood flow; people with Raynaud’s can lose their digits to gangrene. I pushed myself to hike as fast as I could, both to spend less time outside and to keep my blood flowing well. The only photos I took on the whole hike were of the stars I could see from the summit, with the outline of the old fire tower visible in the dark.