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June 11, 2008 at 03:37 PM

2 Days in the Snow Mountain Wilderness

National Parks, US Travel

Just got back from a quick backpack trip into the Snow Mountain Wilderness, part of the Mendocino National Forest. Years ago, Tod and I climbed the East Peak of Snow Mountain, and this year we climbed the West Peak. The mountain is called Snow Mountain because of the prevalence of snow deep into the Summer. Other apt names might be 'Wind Mountain' or 'Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time Mountain.'

Kidding aside, the conditions weren't that bad and did have a good time. Last time we came here, we hiked up under sunny, warm skies only to have temperatures drop below freezing and awake to 6 inches of snow covering the ground and our tent. On that trip, Tod learned the value of a ThermaRest which insulates you from the ground, preventing hypothermia while sleeping. He now owns several.


Snow Mountain Wilderness in April 2001


Pop Tart breakfast, April 2001

The trip up was easy, starting about 4,500 feet where the temperatures were in the high 80's. Tod had a terrible time with his hiking boots, resulting in massive blisters. We stopped for water a few times and made it to the summit around 5:00. We setup camp, but high winds caused us to move our camp to another spot where we thought the winds would be lower. We made a campfire, cooked dinner and drained a bottle of Southern Comfort.


So this is why they call it Snow Mountain

About 10:30, the winds were getting more and more fierce and the temperatures really started to plummet. By about 2:30AM, the winds were gusting up to 75-100MPH which is pretty noisy when you're inside a tent. I didn't get much sleep that night, but the one-man tent held up well (I did have to get up in the middle of the night and re-stake the tent as the winds had dislodged part of it).

When the wind is howling over a nylon tent like that, massive amounts of static electricity gets generated. Every time I moved, sparks would leap from my body to the wall of the tent. My cell phone, previously unable to get a signal, lit up like Times Square with 5 bars of coverage and pretty good download speeds. I used its GPS thingy to approximate my location should I need to send it to anyone, but ultimately did not.


Rising moon, setting sun, campfire

The next morning we hiked back down, an easy 7 mile downhill hike that only took about 90 minutes. From there we drove up to Willits to play 9 holes of golf, then down to the Boonville for a beer tasting at the Anderson Valley Brewing Company. Heading back to the Bay Area, we stopped for dinner at a brewery in Healdsburg, but the local drunk vomited all over himself, the bar and the floor so we left, grabbing some McDonald's on our way out of town.

A good short trip for sure. I've posted the photos at the link below.

View the photos here




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