The trees are heavy with snow, bending, unable to even sway in the gentle breeze as four ladies emerge from the trailhead, unpacking into separate vehicles. It is most definitely snowshoe season on the Berg Lake Trail.
By: Jody Bailey
With: Shehzadi Alejandra
A wealth of fresh snow is offset by the nicely packed trail thanks to the quartet day tripping to Kinney Lake before us. The snow is falling, the wind is calm, and the temperatures hovering around freezing. It is nearly perfect weather for a snowshoe and evening of camping. Winter is not always so kind, and fortunate does not even begin to describe how we feel heading up ... pumpf, pumpf, pumpf.
There is something unique departing a trailhead in the winter with everything you need to survive on your back. It feels more adventurous, more creative, just ... more. The threat of a windy winter storm requires closer attention. An isolated empty campground can be comforting and refreshing, or nightmarishly threatening. The magic of it all forms in crystals on our chins as respiration increases during the first big climb.
This is what we seek all week planning adventures. The release of energy and connection to breath. Earning calories we desperately need to continue breaking trail through knee deep snow across the flats. An honest effort, in a beautiful landscape, followed by a comfortable night’s sleep in a winter snow globe. And of course, the best mountain mornings start with coffee.
Pumpf, pumpf, pumpf, the snow trampolines off our snowshoes, slumping hemlock high overhead shed toasters of their sticky white burden with each gust of building wind. The sky above slouching with heavy grey clouds dumping wet flakes as we work down the trail. An early morning of exploration up to Whitehorn Campground, as far as the trail safely allows up to White Falls, and back down before packing up camp to head out.
The trail pock marked with boot heels from groups all weekend venturing to a popular picnic spot along Kinney Lake, but we have the narrow shin deep path carved in the snow all to ourselves in the fading Sunday light — able to freely share our joy and gratitude. Another isolated magical time in the mountains left behind in the outline of our snowshoes. Disconnected from life, free of distractions, focused on high effort adventure with zero effort smiles.
Blinding headlights the entire drive home await our arrival back at the trailhead due to the late start — worth it.