Thursday, January 7, 2016

Skiing into the New Year

My New Year's tradition involves a road trip to the edge of Mt. Rainier, where I start the year off right with a brilliant bluebird day at Crystal Mountain. With stunning views of the Big Kahuna of Cascade volcanoes just a few miles away, it's hard to not get revved up for the year ahead.

With a series of snowstorms in December right up until Christmas, Northwest skiers and riders are flocking to the mountains to slake our thirst from last winter's drought. And the slopes haven't disappointed.

It's still dark when we leave Seattle on a freezing cold morning. Gonna be really cold up there in the mountains I think as I scrape heavy frost off the windshield. 

Even in the predawn, Rainier looms large on the eastern horizon. I snap a few windshield shots en route at 60+ miles per hour. (No I wasn't driving.)

The world is a little fuzzy this early on New Year's morning. From Interstate 5.
30+ minutes later, from Enumclaw

Even though we arrive before the lifts open, a steady stream of cars has already half filled the lower B lot at Crystal, and people are crowding onto the parking lot shuttle. Wait, isn't everyone else supposed to be nursing their New Year's Eve hangovers?

So we get our tickets (sigh, no reloading your card online anymore for that discount and bypassing the ticket line) and head on up.

After a few warm-up runs over on Forest Queen, it's time to go up to the top. Because of that view. 

And of course the great skiing down the upper bowls.

Probably one of the most popular photo spots in the state of Washington.
Looking back up Green Valley.
Of course it's a five-star day, with all five Cascade volcanoes in the state visible along with many other peaks that divide our region from wet west and dry east. Prominent to the southeast is Mt. Adams, looking for all the world like Rainier's slightly smaller sibling. (Always makes me smile remembering that I've stood atop that mountain.)

Mt. Adams
So we ski easy, then harder, bump into old friends during lunch at Campbell Lodge, and go back out to tear up the slopes for a few more hours. Then quit while we're ahead.


Nothing makes me feel quite so alive as an excellent day skiing under blue skies in the mountain fresh cold air. What a way to start the year.

I hope your year is off to an equally good start.

Happy trails and thanks for visiting Pacific Northwest Seasons! In between blog posts, visit Pacific NW Seasons on FaceBook, Twitter, and Instagram for more Northwest photos and outdoors news.

When You Go
Crystal Mountain is about 70-80 road miles southeast from Seattle (depending on where you start from in the city) on the northeastern edge of Mt. Rainier National Park. Check out their website for details on lift pricing, hours of operation, etc.


JoJo said...

I lived in Bonney Lake for 12 years and never once got up to Crystal. I only to Sunrise once too. Pathetic. I just never thought I'd move away...I thought I had time. I recognized the shot from Enumclaw.

Suezy Proctor said...

A beautiful way to start the year indeed! May you enjoy many more days of bluebird sky days skiing this year need to make up for last year!!!

jill said...

Hey JoJo, ah, yes we never know what tomorrow will bring. I try to carpe diem, but of course we get caught up in the day to day. But at least you got to Sunrise!

Suezy, thank you! Yes, definitely need to make up for last year. :) cheers.

Lainey Piland said...

Wow!!! Absolutely breathtaking photos. Love those white peaks and snowy trees under clear blue skies. What a great way to kick off the New Year!