The snowpack in the Washington Cascades is about 50% of normal. We've had one minor snowfall in the foothills with about two inches sticking. Otherwise, nothing. It hasn't been much better in the mountains. The base at Snoqualmie Summit West is 10". They can't open for skiing until they have at least 24". The 75 year average opening date is December 2.
Needless to say, this year is not a good snow year. We've managed only one snowshoe trip at the Pass and had to ride a tram up to 6,800 feet for our other trip.
Imagine my surprise when I found we had a free weekend (with at least two of the kids) and Uncle Boppi, Molly, and Nicole were in town, too. The snow wasn't great, but it at least (mostly) covered the trail so we headed up Saturday morning.
Blue skies, 31F, happy kids. PERFECT!
I didn't bother to bring snowshoes for me or Uncle Boppi (aka Martin) because I didn't think we'd need them. Certainly, there was no need for flotation. There was a need for traction, though.
We were following the very popular Snow Lake trail and the first slope in the trees was snow pretty much compressed into ice. Several returning hikers were sliding down on their bums. In snowshoes, all four of the kids (Lilly, Henry, and their cousins Molly and Paige) had no problem tromping straight up. Martin and I were a little more challenged.
Up the trail traction became better. At first, it was because the snow and ice disappeared and we were snowshoeing on dirt. Thankfully, that didn't last and we were back in the snow. In the open, the sun heated us up and the kids wanted to take off their coats. In the woods they chilled and complained of being cold. We stopped a lot for layering and delayering. (Bonus info: "Delayering" is a word. Who knew?)
Our kids ranged in age from nine to three, not including me. (I'm old, by the way.) We were not the fastest group on the trail and although the stated destination was Source Lake at the head of the valley we never really had a chance at that. Instead, we stopped when we had an amazing view and a spot to sit in the sun.
I'm always thrilled when the kids recognize how lucky they are to be out in the natural world seeing the beauty we have in Washington. Usually, my kids take it for granted. Molly and Paige, from the South (oh, sorry, the Midwest), were appropriately impressed and that carried over to Lilly and Henry. Sometimes it's great to be reminded just how lucky we are.