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PCT in late March? (Portland area)
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Logan Wealing
(logonwheeler) - F
PCT in late March? (Portland area) on 02/01/2008 16:22:56 MST Print View

My wife and I are thinking of visiting some family and friends in the last week of March '08 in the Portland area. Before we got too deep into the trip planning we were wondering if the weather is good enough in the surrounding area to do a few sections of the PCT that week. I am worried that there will be a lot of snow. I do realize that the lower elevations might be a better bet and we do not mind going on the safe side of things. We are experienced backpackers from Colorado and also experienced winter backpakers/snowshoers as well. We have done trips in the Colorado Rockies in January on snowshoes at 12k ft, we just would rather stay away from bringing all that gear for this trip.

Expected lows & highs as well as some suggestions on what sections would be very helpful. Planning on doing a 4 day 3 night trip in which we can usually do 10 + miles at high altitude without much trouble.

Thanks for sharing any wisdom that you might have!

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: PCT in late March? (Portland area) on 02/01/2008 19:54:47 MST Print View

As of today..there is snow below 1500 ft in many parts of the Cascades here in the PNW. In late March in a regular snow year you can expect snow above 2500-3000 ft. (That is in the Cascades).

Dirk Rabdau
(dirk9827) - F

Locale: Pacific Northwest
PCT in March on 02/01/2008 20:06:56 MST Print View

This year I'd expect the PCT in the northern Oregon and Washington to be under considerable snow through mid summer. I live in Washington and Interstate 90 is on its second day of closures because of all the snow. Crystal Mountain, which is adjacent to Mt. Rainier, already has surpassed 80 percent of its annual snowfall average. At Timberline ski resort at Mt. Hood, Oregon, the amount of snow is epic, with in excess of 480 inches since September.

March is still a rather snowy time of year in this area, and I would not be surprised to see us tramping through snow come August in many spots. But of course, conditions can and will change.

As far as the best and/or safest places to venture in March (Washington has already had nine avalanche related deaths this season), others could speak to this question. I generally snowshoe in March, but generally go to the safer areas as I am not as confident in my winter back country skills. I think this season has been a grim reminder of how easy it is to get over your head. Snowshoeing around Timberline probably is your best bet. Another good place from what I've read is the Frog Lake sno-park. You follow the PCT north and decend to Lower Twin Lake.

But surely others could provide a better picture of the situation. You might also try They schedule a lot of snowshoe trips and the people there could provide you with some local PCT recommendations.

Wayne Kraft
(WayneKraft) - F
Check this thread on 02/01/2008 22:43:26 MST Print View

Dirk Rabdau
(dirk9827) - F

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Wayne, Thanks! on 02/02/2008 20:33:41 MST Print View

Wayne -

Thanks for the link and recounting that story. I have been fortunate enough to spend some time with adventurers who have done some pretty amazing things...those guys seem no different. Yes, they didn't make it but what moxie! I can appreciate the courage and fortitude to undertake such an adventure, even if I have no real desire to attempt the PCT in the dead of winter. Three to four days in a relatively safe area would be one thing, facing serious avalanche danger would be another. I wouldn't even pretend to know enough to know when I was in serious danger. I love to go backpacking and enjoy solo trips, but the winter in the Cascades is an entirely different ballgame.

Many people have the skills, but I am not one as of yet. Not even close. Thanks again for the link.

Logan Wealing
(logonwheeler) - F
Other suggestions?? on 02/06/2008 08:10:27 MST Print View

Many thanks to the insight. We already have enough snow here in Colorado during the winter and were not looking for another snowshoe trip (have to haul all of our gear on the plane etc).

I think that we might look for some cool places to go closer to the coast to find better weather for March and stay at lower elevations... any suggestions there since you have been more than helpful thus far?

Many thanks in advance!