Over the last weekend in February, 25 boys and 9 adults went to Mt. Rainier to make snow caves for the night. We left the church at around 9:00 am, and got to the trailhead at around 12 pm. The weather was great the entire time. There was a long snowfall on the first day, and then it became slightly snowy and overcast until dark, when we slept in our snow caves. The clouds cleared and the full moon was completely visible.
The Paradise parking lot, is at around 5400 ft. We split the group into 11 and 23, because there were so many people at the main campsite. The smaller group stayed at the Paradise Inn campground. The larger group camped at the usual Deadhorse Creek Basin site. To get to either campsite, it is around 1/2 mile and 200 feet of elevation gain. There was plenty of snow on the trail, and plenty at the sites. The snow was fairly loose, but firm enough not to collapse. There was almost no ice in the snow, and the little that there was was not packed and easily dispatched by an attack from a metal shovel. Most of the groups at the Paradise Inn camp were finished at around 5:00. Some of the groups at the Deadhorse Creek Basin camp would have finished with another hour or two but they didn’t get around to it.
A majority of the Scouts slept in caves, and some of the adults slept in an igloo they built with a Grand Shelters Icebox. None of them collapsed, so no one that had built a cave to specification had to sleep in a tent. Some of the adults slept in a tent anyways because they didn’t dig a cave. At the West camp, a few of the adults and one Cub Scout made an igloo 11 feet in diameter (big enough to sleep 5). The West Campers also went on a night hike up to Panorama Point which is around 1300 ft above the Deadhorse Campsite. It was around an hour and a half up, and 45 minutes back to camp. The purpose was not only to see the mountain at night, but to get warm before going to sleep.
The second day was sunny and actually pretty warm even though we were on the mountain. The sun was out the whole day and there was hardly any wind. Since there were two separate camps, it took a while to get going. The group at the Paradise Inn site was packed up and at the other camp at 10:15 for breakfast. We actually left the campsite at around 11am, but some Scouts got to enjoy sledding and fun in the snow while the last few finished tearing down. Once we had finished eating and tearing down, we all went to the cars, and loaded up to leave Mt. Rainier. We got back to the church again at around 3:15 pm. – AMG