On previous moonlight trips we have had the trailhead to ourselves, but tonight there were a number of people with snowmobiles, trucks, trailers, bright lights and a roaring bonfire. We assembled by the Forest Service sign to get farther away from the ear-splitting noise of un-muffled two-cycle engines. The sign said "Winter Travel Regulations - Know Before You Go" and a map showed where snowmobiles were allowed, but it didn't take long before we encountered tracks where, earlier in the day, snowmobiles had run through restricted areas along the Logan River, restrictions in place to protect wildlife. Fortunately the snowmobiles stayed at the trailhead during our hike and their motors were shut off about the time we started out.
Several inches of new snow fell earlier in the day, but it was crusty by the time we got there. We followed the Logan River upstream, listening to the music of the running water and marveling at the snowy scene. The moon was so bright that most of us turned our headlamps off. After about a mile we returned to the groomed snowmobile trail, past the Hells Kitchen trailhead and Beaver Springs on our way to the meadow near Hansen Hollow.
At the edge of the meadow we found the spot Dave and Jane had prepared, a ready-to-light campfire and a circular bench dug into the snow. Tasty treats of "moon macaroons", "moon mints", fish-shaped cookies, s'more cookies and flavored popcorn were shared as we lingered around the blazing fire. Eventually the fire burned down and we started back toward the trailhead. The snowshoers walked quickly down the groomed trail, but the icy snow and gentle slope made for an even faster downhill run for the skiers.
This was an excellent trip, with a clear sky and great moonlight, favorable snow conditions, calm winds and good company.
Thanks to Dave W. for narrative, photos and GPS work.