After 0.4 miles we left the trail and headed up the ridge line. The new snow was deeper here, and we both engaged our ascent bars (a huge help!) for the climb. After several steep ascents through beautiful expanses of untouched snow, we arrived at the ridge line and were greeted with wind gusts carrying tiny ice pellets. It was like being sand blasted! We found shelter behind a tree and planned our next move.
Justin wanted to dig out a snow cave, so he descended the lee side of the ridge about thirty feet and used the heel-end of his snowshoe as a shovel (note to self: buy packable snow shovel!). I joined in and we made quick work of the excavation, cutting blocks with his pruning saw and using them to build a windbreak around the pit. Once deep enough to sit in we started digging into the hill to make an overhang and recessed area to set up my camping stove. Mac n' cheese with chili beans followed as well as a round of tea. The stove doubled as a welcome hand warmer in between heating our food and beverages. With a warm belly and a sense of accomplishment, we packed up and headed for home. As we headed back up to the ridge line, we noticed our inbound tracks were completely filled with snow, so another 6-8" fell while we were out there.