For the shortest day of the year I connected with Adam and Maria and we headed down to MRNP for the day. Just past the park entrance to Mowich there is a slight pullout on the right. The unmarked TH is accross the road from the "Backcountry camping permit required" sign. The trail would be the "Boundary Trail". It goes from the Mowich entrance to the Carbon River Ranger station.
The trail is very easy to follow and has one short jaunt out of the park and into a clearcut where a very odd rock is visible.
Strange rock formation
Back into the park we followed the trail through increasingly deepening snow up to the ridge. Once on the ridge we headed west leaving the trail as is continues north. Bobbing and weaving through a few trees we soon found ourselves on the viewless summit of Virginia Peak (4880').
We did eventually get a view of the mountain in all of her snow covered glory.
Traversing the ridge some more we passed over the lame summit of Berry Peak (5120'). For the most part the ridge is rather simple. A little bit of gain and a bit of loss. There were however a few tricky spots to navigate around that took some careful foot placements. A mis-step would have meant a fall off the rather steep sides of the ridge and a bit of "Plinko" between the trees as the body would make it's way down and finally stop.
When the trees finally open up, one finds themselves just to the southwest of Eunice Lake and rather deep tree wells.
Up to this point the snow consistancy had been rather eradic. One step the snow is rather fluffy and dry, the next it's dense and wind blown. Randomly the snow would have a layer of crust which made traversing a few spots along the ridge rather tricky.
With the lookout looming overhead and some nice patches of blue we headed to the west ridge and headed up.
Tolmie Peak Lookout
Maria coming up
Adam and I opted to head further east to the true summit of Tolmie Peak which sites at 5920'.
Tolmie Peak summit shot
The mountain was hiding behind increasing clouds but low level views were splendid! I have never seen this side of the mountain in the winter and I was in heaven. I must say that with a blanket of snow different areas were harder to identify. It's amazing how much the snow can take away the depth perception. We stayed on the summit for a few minutes before heading back to rejoin Maria at the lookout.
Tracks far below
I spent about 10 more gloriuos minutes of my life soaking in the views and the beauty that the mountain has to offer.
Small cornices and view
Heading out we made really good time getting back down into the Eunice Lake basin and back onto the ridge.
Adam and Maria catching up
We soon re-summited Berry and Virginia Peaks and were brought back to the ridge. At this point Maria opted to return down the trail to the car while Adam and I (already heading up to Martin Peak) went to attain one last summit.
Up to this point the going had been rather...simple. Heading up to Martin Peak (4880'+) was just plain agonizing. The snow was really deep and there were tons of really large fallen trees to climb over. This part was only 300' gain, but it sure felt like a lot more than that. Finally after a few falls and a now very sore knee, we reached the summit and were offered views to the north of...clearcuts.
We spent about 5 minutes before heading back down along the ridge to rejoin the trail back down to the car. Once again we packed our snowshoes only to leave them on our packs the whole trip. At least this time both of mine stayed on my pack.
Tolmie Peak had not originally been a part of the plan, but as we made good time along the ridge we thought it would be possible. We strongly believe that we couldn't ahve hit the snow conditions any better for this trip. With deep fluffy snow the lookout may not have been and option or even possible.
Great trip and a nice route! I'll have to try that. I snowshoed into Mowich via the Grindstone trail several years ago and really enjoyed it. That whole area, including Tolmie, is usually so swamped with people. It's great to have it so quiet and remote.
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