I’m the non-skier or boarder in the family. Oh, I tried post college and pre-kids – five times. But still … no. That is a sport I’m happy to leave to the hubs and my trio. In fact, they’re 30 minutes drive away on Mount Baker as I write this from the comfort of our Glacier cabin rental. Dads need “their own thing” to bond with the children anyway, right?
Yet, knowing how much my hubs loves winter activities, somewhere along the way I settled on wanting to try snowshoeing. At the end of last year, I got about a 15-20 minute taste of it at my in-laws’ Suncadia home. We literally just walked out their back door and shuffled along the snow covered golf course – but it was enough for me to order all five of us a pair and declare us future adventurers!
Less than two months later, we headed out on our first ever family snowshoe near Bagley Lakes at Mount Baker ski area. This maiden adventure was the collaborative result of me searching routes on my newfound favorite site for the Washington Trail Association, and hubs’ declaration that “we’ll just drive until we can’t anymore.” Not to worry, the boys had already traversed most of the road there, having hit the slopes our first day of vacation.
Our drive was beautiful – thanks to all things sunshine, mountain and a dry roadway almost all the way from our cabin to the overflow parking lot. So far, so good. However, while we had done test runs with our two dogs and their new paw covers, we had failed to even try on any of our snowshoes. As in, plastic was being removed in the parking lot. Rookie mistake, but after about 20+ minutes of adjustments and a teen load of grumbling in 11° temps we were on our way!
The trailhead was marked by a nearby vault toilet that we all avoided and a sorry little sapling that every dog within leash reach was sure to water, including our two.
We clomped maybe 400-500 feet and through a copse of trees that opened to a beautiful snow-covered valley with views of what I think was Table Mountain to the southwest. The surrounding slopes were crisscrossed with the trails of backcountry skiers and snowboarders. A fairly wide, well traveled trail marked our route for us, so much so that we probably could have done this in just our hiking boots, which the teen pointed out. Repeatedly.
It wasn’t long after this that said teen ripped off his snowshoes in disgust, opting to carry them and poles going forward. We also had to keep stopping to adjust or replace a paw cover on our corgi, who – much like the teen – was probably seriously questioning the sanity of his family.
Meanwhile, the two youngest and our big mutt were in their element, leading much of the way gleefully running and rolling through the unblemished fluffy powder flanking our path.
We settled into a stop-and-go rhythm, slowly making our way along, and over parts of a frozen Lower Bagley Lake. There were a couple spots along the trail that the snowfield gave way to steep drops into thawed sections of Bagley Creek, prompting me to frantically remind my brood to pay attention.
Looking at a map, we were likely only a few hundred feet from the larger Bagley Lake, but we decided to cut our trek short due to us seriously underestimating our corgi’s stamina – even with those paw covers.
Despite a few footwear mishaps and a chilled corgi, it was a pretty amazing first go. Sunshine was soaked in, stories were established, and memories were made. I’m calling it a successful first snowshoe.