Tuesday, December 7, 2010

And back again

But in the Northwest, winter has come early. There's plenty of snow to cover up most of the rocks, and plenty of motivation to get out: the dark time is upon us here in the Cascades, and we have to get out, because the alternative is to hibernate. And skiing is really much more fun.

As a side note, my frequent trips between Seattle and Bellingham often involve use of the train, a very pleasant 2-hour ride along the coast for around $29. But this time my skis were already in place, and a mid-day transit made much more sense, so I actually took Amtrak - on the bus. Yes, Amtrak has a fair amount of bus service, and it turns out to be quite pleasant and in duration, for only $20! The buses seem to be contracted private coaches, so they're more like bus travel should be. Highly recommended.

This time we headed up to the snow with a couple other skiers/snowboarders. Between the five of us we had all sorts of snow travel combinations, so the bigger-the-group-the-slower-the-travel rule kicked in. A couple miles of logging road, a little tree-dodging, up a couple avalanche chutes (appropriate precautions taken), and finally to the rounded top, Cascade peaks all around. Beautiful.

Of course, there's still the down, and we ended up skiing the last of the logging road in the dark (which is not recommended). The two dogs with us had worked much harder over the day, being without skis in unconsolidated snow, and were possibly happier than we to see the trucks when we finally reached them. As a climbing partner once said: Any day where no one gets hurt is a good day in the mountains.

Good to get one last dose of snow before heading south. As I write this (belatedly), it is currently dumping again in the Cascades. Two feet of forecast snow, followed by a warming trend and heavy rain. A recipe for unstable snow, and a good time to be in the Southern hemisphere...

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