March? So soon? One day we’re buying our annual Sno-Park pass and the next the snow is melting. More storms are forecast but they’ll increasingly bring rain (if we’re lucky) rather than snow. Winter isn’t a protracted business here – our local ski area typically closes at the end of April. In just another month or so, we’ll be going on and on about wildflowers – which, although very good things, are not snow. So although we had some longer hikes in mind for today, we decided instead to do a short, but aerobic, snowshoe sprint to the summit of Mount Ashland. Get the blood flowing. Feel a cold wind in our faces. Discover seemingly bottomless voids in the snow cover. Totter over steep slopes with boards strapped to our feet. Take in the view. Further amortize our snow pass. And so on…

The Mount Ashland Ski Area is closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays, so you can muck around on the mountain sans skiers (or at least sans skiers that need a lift to get to the top). From the Mount Ashland Sno-Park, we snowshoed 800 feet (243 m) directly up to the NEXRAD station that sits atop Mount Ashland like a giant soccer ball (or football in most of the world). The snow had settled to where flotation wasn’t an issue. But we needed the traction provided by our snowshoes for icy patches and the steeper pitches near the summit. Wood smoke haze was playing havoc with good views of Mount Shasta to the south but views in all other directions were expansive. Mount McLoughlin was its usual prominent, visually pushy self.

Those rocks never seemed to get any closer
Ashland’s false summit comes into view
Mount McLoughlin
A steeper slope just below the false summit
Crossing the false summit
Contemplating Mount McLoughlin
The LovedOne salutes NEXRAD (Work long and emanate)
(1) Crater Lake Rim, (2) Mount McLoughlin (again), (3) Pelican Butte, (4) Brown Mountain, (5) Greylock Mountain, (6) Aspen Butte
(1) Wagner Butte’s actual summit (which few people visit), (2) The old lookout site that everyone visits, (3) Medford

After getting a face full of cold wind on the summit, we went down the northwest ridge, then downslope to the service road, and back on Forest Road 20. Only 2.5 miles (4 km) but a good workout nonetheless – and in shamelessly beautiful weather too. 🙂

Starting back under the radiant gaze of NEXRAD
Descending with Wagner Butte ahead
Descending some more, with McDonald Peak in the distance
In a good snow year, this sign would be buried in snow (a hazy Mount Shasta in the distance)
Our short, but sweet, route over Mount Ashland