I almost gave up on snowshoeing this year. After my first "backcountry ski" trip to Mt Margaret this winter, I thought it would be boring going back to snowshoeing. I am glad I kept my snowshoes.
It doesn't matter if you prefer snowshoes or touring skis, there is no substitute for getting out in the backcountry when it is snowed over. But keep in mind that backcountry can be a very dangerous place in winter.
That's what kept me away for the past two years. This risk of avalanche danger, large cliffs, obstacles, changing snow conditions, sink-holes, etc. – requires respect, knowledge and preparation. That's why, personally, I wouldn't recommend anyone to venture into backcountry alone or without BC essentials and practical knowledge how to use them.
Alpental Backcountry with its steep challenging terrain, weather and snow conditions is often so sketchy that beginners and intermediate skiers and snowshoers usually avoid the place.
As usual, as my guide I used Washington Snowshoe Routes, but even detailed description didn't help me find the trail.
As I realized this time, there are tree different ways to "get into Alpental backcountry":
1- take official Snow Lake trail ( that starts across from Alpental's main parking lot )
2 - cat tracks at the end of Alpental road ( route described in Washington Snowshoe Routes )
3 - take Chair 2 ( staying to your left )
I did it "my way" - started at Snow Lake trail and then came back through "alternative trail".
OK, I admit it, I didn't really know where I was going. That's "my problem" with many guide books, I always find the description to be quite confusing. But with a map and a compass, when you look around, you realize that it's quite difficult to get lost in Alpental backcountry.
You are always in the presence of "major peaks " - Denny, Bryant, Chair Peaks, and also Snoqualmie Mountain ( which I almost climbed by accident ).
From my personal experience, if this is your first time in the backcountry,go with somebody who has already been there at least once.