It was just a little early in the season, but we packed up and headed out for a weekend of hiking into some altitude in The Enchantments Wildnerness Area….which is a collection of alpine lakes within the North Cascades. I had scored a a backcountry permit months before and a team of eight was formed to hike into the Stuart Lake Zone where we’d camp for two nights and make an ascent on Aasgard Pass on day 2. As the winter weather continued to grip the area like Donald Trump holding onto his Twitter phone, concern began to grow as to how the temps would look at 6000 ft.
A few days before our departure, I put a call into the Forest Ranger’s office where I was told “Aasgard Pass is avalanche conditions and Lake Stuart camping sites are snow-covered.” Upon reporting this back to the group, our crew of 8 quickly dwindled to 3.
Nevertheless, we persisted. And we were handsomely rewarded with some incredible views and challenging trail. Attempting Aasgard Pass was decidedly a no-go and we thought getting in some good hiking miles would be a better (re: safer) use of our time. While out there we did notice a fair amount of helicopter traffic and later learned that someone feel through the snowpack and disappeared while glissading down the Pass. Very sad, and as I’ve looked up historical accidents in the area it seems like there is a waterfall that has caught several people by surprise.
Man, this weather. Seems like Old Man Winter held on for as long as he could, but finally now that we’re in May things are brightening up. All of those days spent looking out of the office window at the grey, wet, cold outside and dreaming of more pleasant hiking weather have finally passed.
So when my friend April texted me a photo of an article about a central Washington trail perfect for early season backpacking, I was all-in. What was supposed to be a 5.7 mile in-to-camp, 7 mile back-out loop with moderate altitude gain turned into a one-day 12 mile bushwhack with over 2500 feet of climbing and a race against the sun along 4 miles of rail road track.
We zigged when we should’ve zagged. Missed our trail within the first 500 meters.
A mirage. We thought we had found a place to chill and camp for the night, and possibly score a ride back to our car. As we got closer we realized the campground was on the other side of the Yakima River.
Our trail running friend who like us, was totally lost and decided to cross-country it.
Sleeping in the car was quite as restful as out on the ridge but after 12 miles and three beers it felt pretty okay.
Well here are, the first real foray into wilds of 2017 and I’m limping around the office after a weekend in the mountains. That’s a sign of success, I suppose. The Girl and I headed out of town for a long weekend of cabin livin’ near Cle Elum, WA. We all met up in town for a beer and dinner, then clicked in the four wheel drive (metaphorically) and headed down the rough backroads of snow and ice to the cabin. The accumulation there was a good 3-4 feet and making our way with bags of gear and armfuls of beer wasn’t particularly fun. Nor was digging out the fire pit to get a source of outdoor warmth going…but no that’s actually a lie. It was fun. It wasn’t settling into the office chair and firing up the Outlook calendar, it was bruising shins as you fell through the ice-crusted snow and getting things around the cabin ready for a night of whiskey and stories.
The next few days were spent tooling around the cabin, riding four-wheelers around snow trails, and show shoeing around forest. I suffered an injury while leading the group down the side of a mountain and will be hobbling around for the next couple of weeks which basically sucks…but the weather is pretty shitty right now so I suppose there’s no better time.
The past couple of weekends have been relatively chill. A little work, some time with the dogs, a little more time with The Girl, some time drawing public attention to the dams that have stifled the once highly-biotic Snake River. Anyhow, the batteries have recharged and the gear has dried out. More trip plans are in the works but for now, I’m sippin’ on a cold one.
I’ll leave you with a few images from last weekend’s Free The Snake flotilla: