Updated: Jun 6, 2018
A few of us headed up to Mazama Ridge for a snowshoe overnight. The weather looked good, but like it was going to be fairly cold, so we came prepared. The trail is accessible from Paradise Road down the hill from the visitor's center (at a far end of the parking lot). We made sure we were aware of more dangerous avalanche zones before heading out.
After a pretty easy trek down Paradise Road, we found where the trail branched off up the slope to Mazama Ridge. We donned our snowshoes and began the hike up. The path was fairly clear thanks to it looking like a pretty popular route recently. A few portions were pretty steep for snowshoes (esp. with the added weight of our packs), but with adequate traction and momentum we were fine.
Fairly quickly, we broke out onto the ridge. It seemed huge and spacious, and the views were lovely - eyefuls of Rainier and the Tatoosh range all around. There were other people on the ridge, but it didn't feel crowded at all. We explored a bit and identified a good campsite. Once we were all settled in, we took time to explore some more and enjoy the area. I can't say enough how expansive and open it felt, and so close to the mountain. I was also in love with the waves carved into the snow.
As the sun began to set, we stopped to watch, and it put on quite a show. I'm just going to let photos really take over for a second:
With the sun down, the cold intensified even more, and we were soon ready to start winding down for the night. We got in our tents and talked from there around our little circled camp.
A few of us stole out for a bit to admire the starry, snowbound realm around us. I love how simultaneously dark and bright it can seem with the snow's reflection, and I don't think I'll ever tire of star-gazing.
We eventually bundled back up in our tents to get some shut-eye. It was COLD, but snuggled in plenty of layers and our sleeping bags we were able to stay warm. We slept well through the night and roused ourselves as the day dawned. Clouds had rolled in, making us even more grateful for the time spent under clear skies the day/night before, though the ominous clouds over the landscape held a certain beauty of their own.
After some (cold) shenanigans wrapping up camp (seeing J-Rad suddenly go sprinting across the horizon, hands still in pockets, in an attempt to warm up his feet was a highlight XD), we headed back out to beat the storm.
I had been a little worried about the descent over the steeper portions - I questioned if the traction my snowshoes had would hold over potential ice from the night before and with the added pack weight, but everything held up just fine, and we made great time. (John even elected to sled partway.)