This just in from someone who walked from Longmire to Paradise...
November 10, 2009
Left Longmire around 8am with two friends on the Wonderland trail to Paradise.
Best weather possible- mostly clear, no rain until we got off the trail. Twice I stood in the sun.
The trail is snowless up to the Nisqually river. Here's our first unintentional departure from the trail. We meandered north to find a good crossing, as we didn't see any trail on the other side.
After 20 minutes with all three of us across, we took out a map and compass and decided we had gone too far north. 5 minutes of bushwacking brought us onto the trail.
When you cross the river, cross right where the Wonderland trail ends on the east side. The trail continues just up the rise, I promise.
Some bear tracks and a fair amount of deer. No wildlife seen, if you don't count the elk near Ashford on the way up.
After another mile or so and some postholing we decided it was snowshoe time. My first time using them.
I now love snowshoes.
The next 2 or 3 miles were quite pleasant up to Narada falls.
we then departed the trail again. We discovered that there are waist, nay, armpit height drifts behind the comfort station and the road to Ohanapecosh.
We traded off breaking trail, hoping to spot the 'real' trail any moment.
We did trade off leader for a while. Breaking trail where you go in knee dip at minimum is rough going.
We finally saw a road to our right. Steep, but we knew that would lead us to Paradise eventually.
This was where we found the armpit high snow. I shudder to think how we would have gotten up sans snowshoes. Swimming through snow, perhaps?
Trekking poles were helpful for the river crossing, but essential here.
Once on the (unplowed) Ohanepecosh road, we followed a cross country ski route back to the road to Paradise. After searching near the bridge for the trail without luck, we looked at the time (nearly 2pm), and decided prudence dictated we start back.
We all agreed we would try hitchhiking to our car at Longmire.
The first person we asked drove me down, I gathered the rest, and off to Elbe for food.
About 6 miles total. Excellent weather, until we got to Elbe, when it started to pour.
A great snowshoe route. Not advisable with just boots.
Next: Longmire to Muir, return the next day to Paradise. Contingent on weather, of course...