Route: Bullion Basin Snowshoe - PCT
Distance: 5.4 miles roundtrip
Elevation gain: 2150 feet
No parking pass required
Dogs allowed on Bullion Basin Trail
Time: 5 hours. We arrived at Crystal Mountain at about 7:50 a.m. We started showshoeing at 8:15 a.m., and were back at the car at 1:15 p.m.
For our first snowshoe of the year, Grace and I headed to Crystal Mountain. With the snow level rising to 4000 feet, we figured our chances of finding fresh powder would be better at a ski resort or Mount Rainier. I had also hiked a loop on the Silver Creek trail, PCT, and Bullion Basin trail this past summer, and wanted to come back to check it out in the wintertime.
We started on the east side of the parking lot at the trail signs for Silver Creek and Bullion Basin. As we ascended towards Bullion Basin, we encountered a couple people ski touring, and mostly packed-down snow. Throughout this route there were a couple unmarked junctions, and my gps, as well as a map, helped us navigate.
We both held off putting on our snowshoes until we hit Bullion Basin at 5800 feet. At that point I started punching through the snow and we encountered deeper powder. We knew the route to the PCT traveled beneath avalanche-prone slopes, so we were careful to check the avalanche forecast before we headed out, as well as assess the conditions as we snowshoed.
The ridgeline, where the PCT is, had cornices and wind-loaded slopes, so we were extra cautious in this area. All in all, we encountered a few ski touring groups, and just one other snowshoer. It was a wonderful first snowshoe of the year :)
We couldn't leave without making snow angels too :)