SNOW! As I woke up early on Saturday morning, I learned that parts of the Cascades in the PNW received 20 inches of snowfall overnight. With plans to go snowshoeing, this was excellent news.
Julie, Thaddée, Brian, Andy, and I loaded into the Jeep and headed to Tonga Ridge, which is a good early season snowshoe since the road is not plowed once it starts snowing. We started driving and climbing in elevation. As we climbed, the snow increased on the road. Fortunately, someone else had already made tracks up.
With the ground still soft and a top layer of snow, the tires started to slide in spots. This is when we decided to put on our snow cables. Andy and I got out and let the passengers stay warm. We had a mountaineering shovel with us to dig the snow around the tires.
Photo by Brian Cowan
After some fidgeting, we realized we were not able to put the cables on the tires unless we drove onto them. As we were putting the cables on, a truck was coming down saying they could not make it to the trailhead themselves. After talking with the group and deciding to head to Lake Valhalla, we followed their advice and turned around. I was glad we tried because we practiced using the snow cables on non-flat/paved terrain. I didn’t think that the Jeep could get any more sexy, well I was wrong!
We started hiking the snow covered road towards Lake Valhalla around 12:30 pm. We hiked Smith Brook Road for a few hours following snowmobile tracks. We took a detour to cut one of the switchbacks on the road, where the snow was waist to chest deep. With small pockets of blue sky peaking out behind the clouds, we had the perfect day for snowshoeing. I was warm enough wearing only a base layer and hard rain shell on with temperatures hovering around low to mid 30s.
The snow covered tree limbs making them sag low. Untouched snow takes me to a happy, peaceful place. We tried our best to avoid tree wells and crossing streams. We did have to cross some running water, but the snow was still low enough not to cause any harm.
I even decided to do a body print in the snow. As I laid there, Thaddée decided to bury me with snow. I felt like I was at a cold beach under the sand!
Even though we did not get to Lake Valhalla, I think we ended up doing roughly 6 to 6.5 miles of easy snowshoeing. It was a great way to start the season outdoors in snow. It was getting dark as we finished snowshoeing around 3:30 pm. We then headed back to Seattle.
Andy and I decided we would head back to Stevens Pass to ski. It is finally ski season! We scraped off the winter wax from the skis the night before, adjusted my boots, and got ski gear out, which feels a little weird when it is 50 degrees in the city.
Julie, Thaddée, and Michelle joined to take advantage of the $20 lift tickets for pre-season skiing. With roughly a 31 inch base and three chair lifts operating, we had fun shaking the rust off while avoiding a few rocks here and there.
Skiing really made me realize how out of shape I was. Fortunately, my new ski pants kept me dry as the snow continued to fall. Towards the end of the day, my feet were feeling better and my muscles were warming up.
I can’t wait to use my season pass more!
What are your favorite snow activities?
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