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PNWOW: Mt Rainier Snow Camping

Mt. Rainier on a blue bird day 

Last weekend, I went snow camping again with the PNW Outdoor Women’s group (PNWOW). I went last winter and had such an amazing time; I signed myself up again for it this year. This time around, I brought along my friend Kaelee! She had never been snow camping before, and last time she went camping with me, she was miserably cold… so not sure why she agreed to go with me this time, but I am glad she did! (Read about her experience here.)

The Thursday and Friday before our trip, I spent time prepping and packing after work. Thursday, I picked up snow socks (similar to tire chains) for Kaelee’s Subaru since Mt Rainier National Park requires you to have tire traction in the winter, even if you have AWD/4WD, and Friday I picked up an America the Beautiful pass (aka annual national park pass), since the one I had been using expired. Both items are on the pricier side, but worth it.

Tire socks ran us about $100, we got them from Les Schwab though, and they actually let you return them end of season if you don’t use it and get a full refund. A single time entrance fee into a national park is around $20/car. I visit national parks often enough, that buying the $80 yearly pass is cheaper for me in the long run (plus I split the cost with Cody since most of my national park trips will be with him, just not this trip… Thanks Cody!)
Us and our giant packs!
Ready, set, charge! JK. That's the group evaluating the campsite
Looking for the perfect camp spot
Thanks for the action shot Kaelee!
Saturday March 10, 2018
Kaelee and I hit the road for Mt Rainier National Park around 6:00 AM and got to Longmire by 8:30 AM, with a quick stop to Starbucks on the way. Plans were to meet the PNWOW group at the parking lot next to Longmire Museum. The gates at Longmire don’t open till 9:00 AM. We met everyone here, chatted a bit, and then caravanned up to the Paradise Overnight Parking Lot after Teresa (the amazing lady behind organizing this whole event) picked up the group permit.

After all of us parked, loaded our packs on our backs, then we hiked the ¼ mile to the group site. The group campsite is located directly behind Paradise Inn, and is also walking distance to 24 hour restrooms. Great spot for beginner snow camping!

Paradise Inn
Camp Kitchen
We all went to work setting up camp and creating a “kitchen area” for all of us to eat at. After setting up and hanging out for a bit, the group of 30 women went and snowshoed the Alta Vista Loop nearby. Kaelee and I, along with a handful of others stayed behind to catch the sunset. Kaelee and I got cold though, so we started heading down before the sun was completely down. We caught the sunset going down as we hiked back and it was just as magnificent! After we got back to camp, we put on warmer clothes and headed to the “kitchen” to eat dinner. After dinner Kaelee helped me with some night shots, and we went to bed.
 Photo By: Kaelee
Photo By: Kaelee
 Photo By: Kaelee
Sunday March 11, 2018
We woke up to cloudy skies and no colorful sunrise, so we took our time getting out of bed. We packed up a bit, went down and made breakfast, ate, hung out, then packed up and headed out. We made a stop at a coffee shop on our way out and ran into ½ the women we camped with, chatted, and headed home.

It was another great weekend spent in the mountains! PNWOW is an amazing group that has connected a ton of like-minded outdoor women, and I have made some good friends through the group. If you live in the PNW and are a woman, go check them out!
Settings: SS 15 sec + F4.0 +ISO 4000
Our lil village

Below is a more detailed list of what I ate, what I brought, and what I learned:
What I Ate While Snow Camping
Saturday Lunch
·       2 slices of bread
·       Small Tupperware of Trader Joe’s premade chicken salad
I don’t like soggy premade sandwiches, so I slapped the ingredients together when I was ready to eat it. Figured the chicken salad wouldn’t go bad cuz I was in cold weather.
Saturday Dinner
·        Mountain House Italian Style Pepper Steak
·        Instant Mashed Potatoes
·        Backpacker Pantry Crème Brulee
I give the Pepper Steak 7/10 rating, it’s not my favorite Mountain House, but I’d buy it again. For mashed potatoes, don’t waste your money on the Mountain House brand mashed potatoes, just buy the $1 Idahoan brand (saves you money and tastes better!). I messed up on this packet of crème brulee and had to toss it, but if made correctly it’s delicious. It tastes like pudding lol, 10/10 in my books.
Sunday Breakfast
·       Mountain House Biscuits & Gravy
·       Cup of Noodle
This was my first time trying the biscuits and gravy and it was great! 10/10 and I would totally buy it again. I personally am not a fan of the Mountain House eggs. Also I wanted something to warm me up so I had a cup of noodles.
Snacks
·       Trader Joe’s Strawberry Licorice
·       Nut Butter Filled CLIF Bar
I didn’t bring too many snacks this trip, I usually pack more.

What I Packed in my 58L Backpack
Sleeping System
·       REI Flash 32 Degree Sleeping Bag
·       REI Trekker Sleeping Pad R Value 5.6
·       Therm-a-Rest Z Lite Sleeping Pad
·       Sleeping Bag Liner
·       Costco Down Blanket
·       Synthetic Down Booties
Gear List
·       REI Passage 2 Tent w/ footprint
·       MSR Snowshoes
·       Microspikes
·       Snow Shovel & Snow Scoop
·       Snow Stakes
·       Bear Canister
Clothing
·       Patagonia Down Jacket
·       Mammut Ski Jacket
·       Ski Bib (snow pants, overall style)
·       REI Baselayer leggings
·       Walmart Fleece Leggings
·       Glove liners and snow gloves
·       Fuzzy socks for sleeping

What I learned on this trip
·         Men’s sleeping bag temperature ratings are not the same as women’s temperature ratings. Say you see a men’s sleeping bag rated at 5 degrees. It is probably equivalent to a women’s EN rating 15 degree bag. They rate men’s bags at the coldest they can sleep, while they rate women’s bags at the most comfortable temps to sleep in.
·         Snow pack and avalanches: Teresa showed us the soft powder that lies underneath a hard layer of snow and how that is the root cause of avalanches. Interesting to understand a little more about avalanche danger.
·         Read directions carefully before adding water to freeze-dried food or it turns out disgusting…

Until next time Mt Rainier!
 Sunday Morning
Thanks for the GoPro group pic Amanda!
 Practicing photos on Kaelee!

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