Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Cross Country Skiing Leavenworth: The Season is Still On

Real winter came late this season here in the Northwest, and it does not want to quit. For us skiers, that's a blessing.

Last weekend I switched things up from my usual downhill/alpine skis and opted for cross-country skis instead. The pay-off: some heart-pumping exercise in beautiful Leavenworth, Washington.  

With several feet of fresh snow the week prior, trails that were barely covered over the holidays were now just about perfect. 

We arrived at the golf course just south of town before they opened (about 8:30), although tracks were freshly laid for us already by the Leavenworth Winter Sports Club

Just a few other skiers were out, so we mostly had the trails to ourselves as it wound past acres of pristine snowfields and along Icicle Creek.

After an hour on the golf course loop we needed more, so next we headed south to the Icicle River (fish hatchery) trails beside Sleeping Lady resort. 

But first we stopped for hot cocoa at O'Grady's Pantry directly across the street from the ski trail parking area. (The hot cocoa was a tad sweet for my taste, but it still hit the spot on a cold winter morning.)

The Icicle River loops are longer and at one point even cross a bridge. More skiers (and some snowshoers) use these trails, but there's still plenty of space for everyone to spread out.

White above and below; the view from the fish hatchery bridge.

Skate skiers cruised us past in graceful, smooth up and down glides; we opted for slower, classic kick and glide skis on this day. Nevertheless, it's all good exercise.

My favorite parts of the trail are the hill about a half mile after the bridge crossing,and the forested stretch close to the creek. If you're not comfortable gliding down a somewhat steep hill, there are bypass trails to go around them.

What an exhilarating morning! We finished up around noon with over 3 hours of solid exercise in all that mountain fresh air. 

I can only imagine what kind of shape I'd be in if that was a daily routine. My friends who live in Leavenworth and the Wenatchee area are excellent skate skiers and generally all seem about 10 years younger and fitter than their actual ages.

So get on out there and give XC skiing a try, if you haven't already. 

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
A day skiing pass, which allows you to ski at all of the Leavenworth tracked ski areas, is $19 + tax for an adult ticket. Info here on the trails/locations and such. Tickets are available at a booth at each area.



Monday, February 18, 2019

Skiing in the Pacific Northwest: It's Prime Time

With a record-breaking stretch of warm weather in January during an El Nino winter, Pacific Northwest skiers were getting a tad worried. It's not supposed to be almost 60 degrees in the middle of winter here.

When I skied just over a week ago at Crystal Mountain, we passed over patches of exposed rock on the ride up Rainier Express chairlift. It didn't bode well for the remainder of the season.

But then....winter showed up here in the Northwest. Like, record-breaking snowfall winter. 

So we grabbed our (new!) skis and some friends and headed to Crystal Mountain yesterday.

What a contrast to my trip there a week earlier. We glided over powdery fresh snow, cut through some fluffy "pow," and overall had a hella fun day.

And beyond that, the thick layer of fresh snow on the surrounding forest and trees was just plain picturesque. Which, to me, is part of the big picture appeal of being in the mountains.

So, skiers and riders, if you've been dragging your feet, now is the time to go. According to a King 5 TV in Seattle, Crystal got 7 feet of snow in the last week, with more to come!

When you're out there, look for the smiles. Because there will be many. IMO, life doesn't get much better than an exhilarating day on the slopes with lots of cold, powdery, fresh snow.

I'm pretty sure there was a smile behind the snow.

And maybe if you're really lucky, the clouds will clear and the surrounding mountains will be revealed under bluebird skies.

So how about you? Have you gotten up and out in the last week? I'd love to hear your experiences in a comment below. (BTW, if you do comment, please leave your name, or even a fake name, so I know you're not spam.)

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
Be sure and check the forecasts and avoid backcountry skiing if the avalanche danger is high, like it was this past weekend. Here are a few links for Northwest ski conditions: Open Snow blog and Sno Country.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Seattle Snowmageddon 2019

We're having, as some might say, a Seattle moment. Or, perhaps, a Pacific Northwest moment.

It's really cold. We've had snow on the ground for almost a week, with more to come in a few days. This is not normal here in the lowlands west of the Cascade Mountains!

Maybe you've seen the jokes going around social media about how we Seattleites (and Portlanders) massively overreact when it snows. Over the last few days, shelves in many grocery stores/Costco have been stripped of food. In Portland, for god's sake, they ran out of kale!

But nevertheless, we persist and survive. In fact, some of us thrive.

This morning I was up and out before sunrise, walking through 8 inches of fluffy white powder snow to my local bakeshop Preserve & Gather for tea. Despite the dark skies, it was soft and bright and lovely.

 Alas, the sign on the shop said they would be opening an hour later today. So I turned around and went home, strapped on my cross-country skis, and headed back over. 

Inside, barista Jessica was working in a tank top in the steamy warmth of the bakeshop, with fresh hot scones and muffins coming out of the ovens. There were just a few of us there, but gradually more wandered in.

Going home, I took some side streets and alleys that were untracked. What a blast! 

Not long after I got home, my neighbors Dave and Mary called to see if I wanted to go skiing. Sure! So in another 10 minutes I was out the door, heading back to P&G for hot cocoa.

By the time we got there mid-morning, it was packed.

Ski rack instead of a bike rack in use today.
And the hot cocoa tasted extra good, as we sat inside the happy, crowded bakeshop watching sweet little snowflakes falling from the sky outside.

Preserve & Gather's deelish hot cocoa with in-house made marshmallows.
 Afterwards we took a different loop through the 'hood to the Crown Hill Cemetery, cruising past the sign telling us it's a no go to enter unless we own a plot there.

We figured they might be more lenient on a snow day.

Most of the rest of the day I've been inside, trying to get caught up on that paperwork that never seems to get done. 

Outside Preserve & Gather
But overall, everyone I passed skiing, sledding, or just walking was extra friendly and even giddy. When it freezes in Seattle, the so-called Seattle Freeze thaws.

How are you holding up in the snow and cold if you're here in Upper Left USA?

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.