Distance: 6.5 km
Elevation gain: 455 m View map Download GPS track
I’ve had Mount Backus on my radar for years as a nice snowshoe trip for when conditions are less than ideal. Today, despite being uncharacteristically sunny for a weekend, the strong wind ruled out loftier objectives and made diminutive and sheltered Mount Backus seem like a very good idea.
We parked by the side of the road near some empty cattle enclosures, then crossed the highway and started snowshoeing up the gentle southern slope of Mount Backus. Very soon we encountered one of several barbed wire fences, but the snow was piled right up to the top wire and crossing all of them throughout the trip was very straightforward. The snow was also very nice for snowshoeing, but the absence of any track meant we were sinking at least a foot with each step and occasionally plunging up to our thighs when we stepped on a buried tree and everything collapsed.
We followed a route that minimized elevation loss, turning to the northwest a short distance from the road before turning to the northeast and heading directly for the summit. Bushwhacking was very light and several open areas afforded very nice views to the south and west. It’s been a long time since I laid down a fresh track through powder though, and breaking trail was much more strenuous than I remembered. A few short sections of old trail that were faintly visible in dense forest, likely Alison’s ski track
from a few weeks earlier, made the going slightly easier, but not by much.
Despite the difficulty we made it to the summit in just 2 h 15 min, and that included a quick lunch break in the sun just below the summit. Unfortunately our timing coincided with a mini Chinook arch obscuring the sun and so the views were a bit more black and white than we’d hoped for, but the panorama was still very nice and it was delightful to see actual mountains for a second consecutive week. It will be even better when I can hike up those actual mountains, but that’s still several months away!
A cold and moderately strong wind blowing across the summit meant we couldn’t linger long at all and we soon retreated back to the forest. I’d been debating taking a different route back to the truck, but the folly of breaking a whole new trail through the snow overruled my desire to explore and we instead followed our track back down. It was another great day in the mountains and another unique summit for me!