May 1, 2018 · Snow Mountain Wilderness
Check out the route in detail on AllTrails.
Off to Snow Mountain in Mendocino National Forest. It was my first time in the area. Sitting in the car in SF, I put in the directions for Stonyford since google wasn’t recognizing the exact trailhead. I figured I’d put in the actual directions when I got to Stonyford (the closest town to the trailhead). But when I got to Stonyford, I didn’t have any cell reception, so I had to fall back to the analog way of figuring things out. I lucked out and found a closed ranger’s station with free maps of the area outside. I grabbed one and did the classic map on hood of car move. I found where I was on the map, and where I needed to go. It was now just a matter to paying attention and following the map.
I got to the trailhead around 7pm. It had a very strong feeling of being remote. The dirt road there was in mediocre condition, with a few sketchy washed out areas. Despite the remoteness, there was a picnic table and a nice outhouse. I parked the car on a flat spot and got out to explore. It was drizzling slightly, with a rainbow in the distance. It started hailing and raining within minutes, so I scrambled to set up a tarp for the first time, using the car as an anchor. It wasn’t worth it, and I ended up hiding in the car with a wet Stani.
The rain cleared up and I cooked dinner and fed the pup. I listened to a podcast in the car and fell asleep.
We were up early, and it was chilly outside. I cooked eggs and fake sausage for breakfast as the sun came out and started to warm things up. I packed all the gear needed for an overnight camp and set off along the trail. It felt great to be hiking. It was about 7:30am.
The trail was in good condition. Sections of the trail were still covered in snow, but since it was early in the morning, the snow was hard and made for easy crossings. Around 4 miles in, I got to the pass that connects the east and west peaks. I headed up to the east peak of Snow Mountain, signed the peak register, then headed back down to the pass and up to the west peak. The west peak had a cement beam structure, and someone had also built a bivy site out of rocks. We headed back down to the pass again and continued on.
The entire loop is about 12 miles long and it was going by faster than I expected. I decided to push through and get back to the car. The whole loop took about 5.5 hours.
Here is some information that comes in handy when preparing for this trip like this.