White Pine Ridge, 4 February, 2024

Seven hikers turned out for our White Pine ridge snowshoe/ski outing. Six were on snowshoes: Brent, Chris, Catherine, Ralph, Dave W, and Dan (leader), and Teresa was on skis. We were pleased by the near-perfect weather forecast for that day: mostly sunny and moderate temperatures and very little wind. Avalanche conditions were "moderate", but we intended to avoid any risky terrain, regardless.

We car-pooled up into the canyon in two vehicles to the Franklin Basin Winter Trailhead. The trailhead was crowded with trucks and snow machine trailers but we were able to find enough space to park.  We began our trek at about 11 a.m. as several noisy snow machines roared past on the Franklin Basin Winter Trail.

Starting on the
Franklin Basin Winter Trail, we crossed the Logan river and turned south across a meadow to the beginning of the Steam Mill Trail for a group photo (the usual trail sign was missing).  Our route continued south on the snowmobile-tracked Steam Mill Trail, through a wooded section, then east up the fairly steep (13%) grade.  The snow was crusty with an inch of soft new snow on top.

After about a mile we split into two groups.  Four snowshoers went ahead and the skier and two snowshoers dropped back for a less strenuous experience. We used our walkie-talkie radios to communicate between the groups. The four climbed up into the woods and eventually found the yurt near the top of the route. They came out onto the ridge after about 2.4 miles of hiking and had lunch break from 1:15 to 1:30 on a rocky outcrop (Catherine supplied chocolates).
There was up to 5 inches of new snow at this 7800 ft. elevation.  It was breezy and cloudy, but there were great views of nearby peaks:  Mount Gog, Mount Magog, Steam Mill Peak, Temple Peak and Beaver Mountain.

After lunch the four snowshoers continued down the open ridge for about half a mile, turned north through the woods and down to a large meadow and arrived at the trailhead about 2:45 p.m., for a total trip distance of 4.7 miles and 1200 feet of ascent.

The three others enjoyed a leisurely trip, with meaningful conversations and rewarding nature watching. They observed animal tracks in the snow and had the unusual experience of seeing a couple of snowshoe hares, still hunkered down in their burrow entrances.  This group stopped for lunch in a sunny spot about the same time as the others, then returned to the trailhead by a more northerly route, arriving 40 minutes before the others, for a total trip distance of about 2.5 miles and 460 feet of ascent.

Trip Summary:
  • Drove 34 miles to the Franklin Basin Winter Trailhead
  • Seven Cache Hikers participated: Brent J., Chris, Catherine, Ralph, Dave W, Teresa and Dan (leader)
  • There was fresh snow, with variable skies, moderate temperatures, and calm winds (except for the windy ridge)
  • Four snowshoers traveled 4.7 miles with 1200 feet of ascent (the red line on the map, below)
  • Three others traveled 2.5 miles with 460 feet of ascent (the blue line on the map, below)

Thanks to Dan for the narrative and photos, Dave W for photos, and Ralph for photos and GPS data.

Donning snowshoes at the Franklin Basin Winter Trailhead

Avalanche safety resources at the trailhead - a beacon training park (left) and beacon testing station (right)

A group photo at the beginning of the the Steam Mill Trail

Ascending the Steam Mill Trail
On the wind-blown White Pine ridge

East view from the ridge: Chicken Hill (left) Mount Magog (mostly hidden), White Pine Knob and Mount Gog (center)

Descending southwest down White Pine ridge with a view of Logan Canyon in the distance

Four snowshoers returning to the trailhead on the Franklin Basin Winter Trail

A snowshoe hare, hiding at the entrance to its tunnel

The hare soon hopped away
The entrance to the hare's tunnel

Rodent tracks in the snow (probably voles)

The Logan River and Beaver Mountain (compare this photo with previous trips)

Our GPS track shows about 4.7 miles and 1200 feet of ascent for the larger group.
You can look at the route using Google Earth or download our GPS file.