Saturday, February 24, 2018

Winter in the Pacific Northwest: Get Outside

Have you gotten outside much this winter? 

Here in Upper Left USA, winter has been throwing us lots of rain, snow, and sun, so I've gotten good use of my rain and cold weather gear. Some hiking, some skiing, a getaway, it all has been fun between bouts of working overtime.

So today's post is a mélange of adventures around Washington since the first of the year. 

Hiking in the Rain
When a pineapple express hit in January, plans to go skiing one Saturday morphed into a hike up Boulder River off the Mountain Loop Highway near Darrington, Washington.

Heavy rain was predicted, which makes for good waterfall viewing. Plus it's more comfortable hiking in the rain than skiing in the rain. (Umbrellas can be your friend, but not on the slopes.) 

We were lucky, the rain didn't really start up in earnest until shortly before we arrived back at the car after a 7.5-mile hike. And yes, the waterfalls and the mossy green woods along the river were gorgeous.

This trail is fairly easy, with a gain of less than 1,000 feet (gotta get your heart rate up a bit). It's also very popular, even on this rainy day the parking lot was full and then some.

After Hike Eats
My friend Andy directed us to the Stilly Coffee House in Arlington on the way home, where we refueled with fresh cookies and hot drinks after a chilly, damp hike. I like supporting independent small businesses, and the Stilly was warm and friendly. (BTW Stilly is the nickname for the Stillaguamish River that flows through Arlington.)

Heading East to Ski
Early February we headed over to Leavenworth, Washington, for a few nights to catch up with some friends and ski Mission Ridge above Wenatchee. After the warm spell, there was a fast snowmelt around Leavenworth, leaving snow levels comparable to late March instead of early Feb.

But the brilliant blue skies were worth the trip. 

We drove up to Mission Saturday, where the snow was mostly hard and a bit  icy (they've since gotten more snow). For several runs I skied with a guy who knew the area well and took me on a some fun runs I wouldn't have found easily. Mission features friendly locals and smooth groomer runs.

The contrast between the mountain and the arid, dry land beyond is striking and so different than skiing on the west side of the Cascade Crest. Plus the views the other direction from the top of the ridge are lovely too, with Mt. Rainier dominant on the southern horizon.

After Ski Eats
Afterwards we met up with a friend down near the Columbia River in Wenatchee at the Pybus Public Market. We snacked at the Cafe Columbia, where I had a  very tasty spiced cookie, but there are numerous other options at this indoor marketa great addition to the Wenatchee food scene.

Hiking Leavenworth
After a great dinner Saturday night at Kingfisher Restaurant at Sleeping Lady Resort, the next morning we awoke to more bluebird skies. Normally we'd do some cross-country skiing, but instead the trail was clear enough to hike up the Icicle Ridge Trail above Leavenworth. 

While I'm an enthusiast for hiking in the rain, I must admit it was wonderful to be hiking in the sunshine again.

Skiing the Pass
To Northwesterners, "the Pass" could be several places. To Puget Sound dwellers, it might be Stevens Pass or Snoqualmie Pass, but on President's Day for us it was Snoqualmie

While the "real" skiing around these parts is at Crystal Mountain or Stevens, for a quick morning of fun turns, Snoqualmie is just fine. We arrived before the lifts opened to get a close parking space (Silver Fir Lodge is the way to go), and then skied the crossover to Summit East, which I will always call Hyak.

A morning of cold snowy bliss ensued. While we take Snoqualmie for granted, it really is quite scenic up there.

So there you have it. Just a smattering of outdoors activities around western Washington this winter. Oh, and today I just skied my best powder day ever at Crystal Mountain. Too cold and snowy for action photos!

 How about you? Where have you gotten outdoors the last few months?

Happy trails and thanks for visiting Pacific Northwest Seasons! 

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