Boring Art, Boring Life: Family Day Weekend, Beginner Snowshoe                                                  

Family Day Weekend, Beginner Snowshoe

Family Day Weekend has come and gone, and I'm happy to say that I made the most of it. I planned three trips, including an overnight camp at a familiar trailhead in Seward. Don't fret: I spent at least one of those days with my family! The first day was a beginner snowshoe trip to Lake Helen Mackenzie; Day Two, an intermediate snowshoe trip to Mount Allen Brooks; and the third, a more challenging trip to Stowe Peak, in the Prince of Wales Range.
Island Mountain Ramblers, Snowshoe to Helen Mackenzie
everyone looking out for the littlest Rambler
On Saturday February 6th, eleven Island Mountain Ramblers headed out from Raven Lodge on an easy snowshoe trip to Lake Helen Mackenzie. Several guests joined us, including two of Kim's long-time friends, Emhrys and Nichole.

Raven Lodge to Lake Helen Mackenzie snowshoe
Lake Helen Mackenzie Map with photographs

Total Distance: 6.8 km
Starting Elevation: 1068 m
Maximum Elevation: 1161 m
Total Elevation Gain: 178 m
Total Time: 4 hours 30 minutes

We left early, 9:00 am from the lodge, because I wanted to give plenty of time for everyone to enjoy the route at an easy pace. I was also towing Hemingway in the updated sled, and I wanted to take it easy so I wouldn't be exhausted for the next two days of adventure.
Raven Lodge to Lake Helen Mackenzie snowshoe
edging the narrow path between trees and icicles
I’m happy that we followed the familiar summer route from Raven Lodge through Paradise Meadows towards the lake. Even though we had used the same route the week before, at least six inches of snow had gathered on the route. This caused issues for the sled, as it's slightly too wide for a common snowshoe track. It was a serious chore to pull the sled, now modified with aluminum runners, through the too-narrow track.
Raven Lodge to Lake Helen Mackenzie snowshoe
A lake sleeps under the heavy blanket of snow
I'm grateful for the efforts of the group! Without them, I wouldn't have been able to get Hemingway to the lake. The surface crust and narrow track made it difficult to drag the sled. The combination of aluminium fins, and the drag of the sled on the high walls, made for a very tough day. Further, Hemingway was very cranky: every time snow touched him, he started to cry. I can't blame him, really - getting snow down the collar is a pretty terrible experience.
Raven Lodge to Lake Helen Mackenzie snowshoe
wandering the wastes 
I'm always grateful for the folks I hike with. Everyone was very accepting of Hemingway: helping with the sled when it overturned, or piled with snow; helping to warm Hemingway when he was cold; and removing snow from his jacket when it worked its way up the sled and into his face.

Raven Lodge to Lake Helen Mackenzie snowshoe
lunch isn't complete until there is hot drinks!
We ate at the lake, fed nuts to some ornery birds and enjoyed the clear skies! As we ate, several groups passed us, at least two heading toward the Elma/Allen Brooks col.  I took note for my adventure the next day. With a route broken in, the day would be that much easier! I also noted that that there was no route leading to Battleship Lake. The one from the week before was no longer visible, totally filled in.

Hemingway hiding under his sleeping bag at Lake Helen Mackenzie

I announced that I needed to return via the route we came on. The other participants understood, as they had seen the challenges I faced in getting to the lake, though I imagine a few were upset about it. I promised to run a few more beginner snowshoe trips before the season is done!

Returning on our approach route was much easier. We met a dozen or more folks who were working their way through the meadows toward the lake and beyond, seeking overnight adventure. The challenge was passing each other on the very narrow track; at least once, the sled slid down the hill.
I'll definitely bring Hemingway along on more trips, but the sled needs still more modifications. In fact, I've redesigned it. I'm building a new one: longer, narrower, and more svelte. On another note, on the next beginner snowshoe we will have a later departure, and in that way we won't be breaking any trail. This should make hauling the sled much easier.

View the full album of images...

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