Monday, March 1, 2010

Craters of the Moon Snowshoe

Matt and I decided to go snowshoeing on the 27th. Weather around the state wasn't looking good so we decided upon Craters of the Moon National Monument which seemed to have the most promising forecast. Craters of the Moon is a volcanic area in eastern Idaho with lots of interesting volcanic formations, open terrain, and groomed winter trails. The lava fields, normally black in summer, was instead bright white with snow!

I met Matt just after 6am and then suddenly realized I left my snowshoes at home. D'oh! After driving back to my house to get them we ended up leaving Boise 45 minutes later than we had planned. The drive across the state was a little bit snowy at first but once we got to the Camas Prairie the weather turned into high broken clouds - about the best we could hope for! We parked at the visitor's center and began snowshoeing the groomed road just before 10am. We made good progress and were quickly at the end of the groomed road and had to start breaking our own trail toward the formations we were planning on climbing.

Overall the snow conditions were decent... usually there was a supporting layer underneath a few inches of soft stuff. Some areas were total sugar which was frustrating... but in roughly two hours we attained the summit of Broken Top. After taking in the view, we headed down and over to Big Cinder Butte, the highest volcanic feature in the park. Big Cinder Butte is a neat spot with a commanding view of the surrounding area. The weather appeared to be deteriorating so we quickly descended through the beautiful limber pine forest and headed up Half Cone, a minor summit near Big Cinder Butte. After relaxing on Half Cone for a few minutes it was almost 3pm and with still worsening weather we had to start heading home. The snowshoe back to the car was long and somewhat tiring and we got back to the vehicle under a light snowfall at about 6pm.

When we were roughly a quarter mile from returning to the groomed road, Matt had one of his snowshoes totally fall apart. We were both lucky this happened where it did - if it had happened far from the road we would have had a serious problem likely requiring some Bear Grylls-style improvisation!

A final footnote is that I was stupid and neglected to apply sunscreen because it wasn't sunny... needless to say my red face was the source of comedy at work on Monday. Once again I'm reminded that the red man reaction is not satisfaction!

Trip statistics: 13 miles, 1600' elevation gain, 8 hours

Craters of the Moon Snowshoe Pictures!
Matt's Trip Report

1 comment:

Cathy said...

I stopped briefly at the Craters of the Moon when I left Boise on the Nephews & Nieces Tour. It certainly was odd looking terrain. Sorry to hear about the sunburn.... I am sure you will remember next time!