Tuesday, September 18, 2018

annual end of the summer backpacking trip

Becky and I have been wanting to visit Glacier National Park for years, but given its popularity we weren't willing to drive out there at the spur of the moment to put a backpacking trip together...so we put in all our reservations early this spring to get the exact itinerary we wanted...now all we had to do was cross our fingers that the park didn't start burning like it did in 2017.    Sad trombone...as our departure date neared, west side access was closed due to a big fire and some of our trails were shut down due to grizzly bear activity...so a trip to Glacier was going to be thoroughly compromised.  Time to find another destination.

The Sierras have never let us down, but a spur of the moment trip to California was going to be a little tricky as the most popular trailheads already had their quotas booked solid for months and we didn't want to head down there with our fingers crossed we could get a walk-up permit the day we wanted to start.   We still managed to get a reservation and piece together a wacky little loop trip zig zagging some areas we'd seen on the John Muir Trail and Sierra High Route trips years ago but we'd also get to see a lot of new terrain.

The trip reinforced just how easy it is to find solitude in the oh so popular Sierras. The few times we were on trails, particularly the Pacific Crest Trail, we'd see people about every ten minutes, but once we headed into cross country terrain, we'd go all day without seeing anyone.  

Sunday, February 25, 2018

February skiing...back to our usual stormy storminess

Yodelin last weekend - lots of snow, even more wind...helmets were handy for the amount of snow falling out of the trees.  The skiing was okay, the trailbreaking was quite the workout.

Becky and I got up to Snoqualmie on the 23rd, ahead of the weekend crowds and storms.  Toured around Guye Peak, took a peak at some steeper terrain we look forward to hitting later this season once our crazy snowpack settles down a bit.

With Becky off to work for the weekend, I was chasing Chris and his buddy Nathan around the Stevens Pass trees on Saturday.  Great conditions...pretty easy trailbeaking, scattered flurries and sun, and cold fluffy snow all day.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

New Years ski trip - Mt.Rainier

Becky and I had a few days off over the New Years weekend - unfortunately the weather immediately preceding our days off wasn't very kind to the snowpack.

We joined some friends for a short ski tour on Saturday at Snoqualmie Pass - it was snowing...barely... another few hundred feet lower and we would've been in rain.  The snow was a deep, funky mixture of rain saturated stuff lower down, topped with a breakable refreezing crust from the rain event the night before with a few inches of new snow on top. The skiing was ugly, and we threw in the towel after just about 1,000ft of climbing... time to head home, dry out the gear, and hit the reset button for the rest of the weekend.

Sunday and Monday had sunny weather in the forecast but we figured anything low elevation would have the same breakable crust we encountered...so we opted to take our chances going high - it was off to Rainier to goof around.
With the winter gate to Paradise opening at 9am and closing at 5pm, doing a day trip to Rainier is rarely at the top of our to-do list...it always feels a little rushed....so we brought the camping gear, and stayed for two days.
Sunny days are usually shared with a ton of other skiers when sticking to the usual Paradise to Camp Muir route...but we're rather fond of scooting further around to the east to setting up camp near Cowlitz Rocks where we can find a variety of slopes and generally have the place to ourselves.
We only ran into three other day-tripping skiers out there Sunday and enjoyed a lovely sunset and moonrise.  As usual, the long nights this time of year meant we hit the sack at about 6:30pm and slept for 14 hours...yup.... 14 hours.
Sunday was sunny, warmer, and had some legitimately good skiing from 9,500ft back down to our camp at 6,800ft.  After a nice long run on the Paradise glacier, we packed up our gear and slid for the parking lot.

link to photo album

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Snoqualmie Pass touring

link to more photos

Andy, Becky, and I found sunshine, stable powder, and ample solitude out on a nice rambly tour at Snoqualmie Pass.  Racked up about 5500vf of mostly great, shallow powdery turns and really didn't see too many folks until everyone was on the shuffle back across Snow Lake.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Chelan-Sawtooth Wilderness, Star Pk & Courtney Pk

For years, our traditional fall trip was to hike through the Enchantments to gawk at the larches as they turn neon yellow for a couple weeks.  The last time we visited the Enchantments though, we were a bit turned off by the crowds, the hikers listening to music out loud on their smartphones, the steady stream of trail-runners wanting to blast by us...the Enchantments are just a bit over-loved.  So, it was time to try somewhere new.
Fortunately the east side of the North Cascades has many more larches than those in the Enchantments, and if you're willing to get off the beaten path a bit, you can find some uncrowded, no-permits necessary larchy lands.   It was pretty chilly with the new snow and all, but we still got in climbs of Courtney and Star Pks while we were out there.

Linky to the photo albums

Friday, July 28, 2017

Lyman Glacier, Chiwawa Mtn

Becky and I were home for approximately 24 hours from the Pasayten Wilderness when we realized that with our remaining three days of summer break, we could squeak in another short trip...and revisit our old nemesis, Chiwawa.   We'd tried twice, from two different routes and been skunked...but this time we came with way more technical gear than we'd likely need in order to cruise the glacier no matter how icy conditions were.
Turns out the glacier was in fantastic shape...no ice screw or rope needed at all... a super fun climb and fantastic views.  Nice way to wrap up our two week break.

Linky to the photo albums

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Summer break - two weeks in the North Cascades

Becky and I had the last two weeks of July off to get in some quality time in the North Cascades.

Trip #1 was the 'Devils Dome Loop' - a fun three-day jaunt around Jack and Crater Mountains.   Lots of wildflowers, the use of a motorboat shuttle to cut off a day of shoreline hiking, and perfect weather!

After we wrapped that up, it was east to the Methow Valley for a couple days of lazy hotel time at the Freestone Inn.   Acting like adults and sorting our gear while enjoying a swimming pool and hotel happy hour was pretty nice.

Trip #2 was north of Winthrop, up into the Pasayten Wilderness.  We did a loop out of the Chewech River/ThirtyMile Trailhead...climbing Remmel, Amphitheater, and Apex Mtns along the way.  Sadly, the clouds and thundery weather we had while staying at the Freestone ended up being the storm that sparked the Pasayten fires that raged the rest of the summer out there- we were lucky to get in the trip we did before the mountains blew up.

Linky to the rest of the photos