Winter Camping in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest

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Yes, my friends...that is a homemade igloo, lit up under the clear night's sky by the eleven headlamps of our incredible group.

Due to a forecast for over two feet of fresh (but unstable) snow up on Mt. Rainier, we made a last minute change to our itinerary and headed up to the Trout Lake area at the base of Mt. Adams.  With the goal getting into the backcountry, and avoiding the presence of snowmobilers, we headed to the more obscure Snow King Sno-Park, donned our snowshoes and tromped up the unplowed road before turning off into the woods and meadows of the area.  Each spot looked better than the next as we scoured the landscape for a prime spot to build our winter camp.  We settled on a beautiful meadow and tucked our bags in the tree wells so that we could roll up our sleeves and start putting in the hours of work that would be required to build a snow empire.  Mike Wilson had brought his igloo maker, and the so-called "ICE BOX" was put into motion as we built a 12-foot diameter igloo from the ground up.  Meanwhile, our kitchen area was excavated and tents were erected.  The snow stopped for the evening, and that the stars came out in force.  All eleven us packed into the igloo for a spaghetti dinner before we started a campfire outside in the snow. 

We filled Sunday with an off-trail snowshoe excursion up to the top of a nearby butte, snowball fights, sweetened condensed milk (poured on every food item we had - winter camping requires high calorie input!), and burgers in the friendly cafe in Trout Lake before rolling back into Catlin.

Here are some photos from one of the program's classic winter trips.  Enjoy.