Winter is a great time to play outdoors in this region, especially when you can find some fresh snow. We anticipated a waterfall and lots of white stuff when we ventured to June Lake, but we didn’t think we’d walk into a scene out of Narnia. Washington is full of surprises!
Anyone who lives in the Pacific Northwest knows there’s almost no bad time to get outdoors. Sure, the winter can be rainy, but if you know where to go, falling snow is much more pleasant (and beautiful). Fortunately, this year has been really good for snowfall, so the typical winter pastimes are all available. And that means that hiking trails buried in a few feet of snow are perfect spots for snowshoeing.
June lake is a beautiful little spot, pleasant in the summer, and not often covered in snow. Therefore, we wanted to take advantage of the photographic opportunity. Have I mentioned I love snow?
The June Lake trail
The road to the actual trailhead was closed off for the season, accessible only by foot, snowshoe, skis, and rumbling snowmobiles. About three quarters of the mile along this snowy road, the path crossed a small brook. Snow! Trees! Mini waterfalls! And a fleet of tripods emerged as we all dove into photographer mode. One of our group kept inching closer for just the right angle; I feared he’d go wading into the frigid water. And Aaron thinks I’m crazy! We were thoroughly enjoying the scenery, and we hadn’t even hit the trail yet.
When we finally did arrive, I chuckled that the signs for the trailhead were down at our ankles, almost completely submerged in white. We donned our snowshoes and began our ascent.
The trail was beautiful, though it never stopped snowing. And we fortunately didn’t have to break our own trail, as we had a packed path to follow. However, the packed groove was rather narrow, making it somewhat difficult to walk naturally and causing a few of us to stumble on a number of occasions.
Cresting the summit of the trail a little more than a mile later, the trees gave way to an open clearing.
I felt like I had stepped into Narnia.
The Narnia clearing
The world was completely silent around us, all sounds muffled by the gracefully falling snowflakes. By this point, I had ditched the hood and scarf, having gotten too warm from the exertion. I just stood there for a moment, my puffs of warm breath the only thing disturbing the serene scene. Trees lining the clearing were laden with heavy snow, a branch occasionally giving way to dump its load onto unsuspecting passersby below.
And directly in front, a small waterfall sprang from the wall to fill an icy pool almost completely obscured by puffy snowdrifts.
The whole tableau was magical, and my mind battled between the priorities of ravenous hunger and photography. Of course, I’m me. So photography won out. I took a few pictures, including this biweekly wow of the falls.
I love the trees and the falls, the tip of the lake and the blue icicles behind the water. All it was missing was the lamppost.
Leaving the wardrobe
It began snowing in earnest. I retired the camera to the safety of my bag and scarfed down some hot soup (insulated thermos for the win!) before the group left me behind. The way down worked a different set of muscles, so that by the time we returned to the trailhead, I was thoroughly pooped. I happily ditched the uncomfortable snowshoes for the last mile along the snowy road, dodging snowmobiles and foregoing a second stop at the brook (though others had their tripods out).
In the end, I was cold and tired and hungry, but snowy images danced in my memories, and I was happy with the pixels tucked safely in my camera. Winter wonderland wandering: achieved.
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