Looking for a new sport, or want to learn more about this region? Join a snowshoe tour and discover the ecology of the winter forest with a U.S. Forest Service naturalist at Stevens Pass.
Every weekend through Feb. 24, the Skykomish Ranger District offers twice-daily, 90-minute guided snowshoe walks around the Stevens Pass Resort area.
The program is in its 13th year, and Nan Lammerer of the Skykomish Ranger District has been guiding the walks all but one of those years.
The walks are excellent for anyone, and snowshoe experience isn’t required.
The groups meet at 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays at the Forest Service Guard Station by Parking Lot A at the ski resort.
Snowshoes are provided, and after a brief orientation, everyone heads out for the woods for a walk of about half a mile along a stretch of the Pacific Crest Trail.
“We talk about nature and we look for animal tracks and identify the wildlife that might have left them,” she said. “And we talk about winter adaptations and how trees adapt to cold.”
This year is a particularly interesting year in the forest, she noted.
Earlier in the winter a severe ice storm struck the mountains east of the summit and even the hardiest trees succumbed.
“The trees were laden with ice and got too heavy to bear,” she said. “Trees are adapted to withstand that kind of thing but the weather was too severe this year. It’s been decades since that happened last.”
If the conditions are good enough, the groups may stay out a couple of hours.
Views of the Cascades, including Cowboy Mountain and Mt. Lichtenstein, are spectacular when there is good visibility.
The activity makes for good exercise, but it’s not so strenuous that a high level of fitness is required.
“This section of the PCT is fairly level,” said Lammerer. “You don’t have to be in the gym every day to enjoy this program.”
Wear stiff boots, a hat, gloves, and sunglasses for snow glare. Also bring weather proof outwear and a backpack to stuff extra layers in as the exercise makes you warm.
Overheating is a far more common occurrence than being too cold, Lammerer said.
A bottle of water and a camera are also advised.
The maximum group size is 20, and the program is popular, so reservations are recommended but not always required. The program is funded by donations, so plan to give about $15 per adult and $10 per child.
To make a reservation, call (360) 677-2414.