Friday, March 24, 2023

Winter 2023 in the Pacific Northwest: It's a Wrap


Did you have a good winter this year? 

Winter is finally loosening its grip here in the Pacific Northwest. The mountains are still getting snow, and plenty of it, so spring skiing will continue well into April.

As I write this, it's raining and cold out (in the high 30sF), after a few teaser days of sunshine and temps in the low 60s. I'll be skiing this weekend in fresh snow. But I know it's not for long now, and spring is really happening.

For this skier and nature nerd, the last few months have offered some great days on the slopes and trails. The new year began with, of course, a swim in the Salish Sea on a cold, breezy day. What an exhilarating way to start the new year!

Ballard Wild Swimmers on New Year's Day

My swimming pod kept it up all season with some glorious cold sunny days and stormy, rainy days. We made it through the winter swimming/dipping every week, and one week went every other day!

Sunset swim, Shilshole Bay, February 10, 2023

My ski season started in January (my Ikon ski pass has blackout dates over the holidays), with plenty of snow coming down at Crystal Mountain, just north of Mt. Rainier, SE of Seattle. It was snowing all day, which is a true test for goggles (mine earned about a grade D). But always a thrill nonetheless.

Taking a break on a warm-up run in off Forest Queen, Crystal Mountain

My next trip up in February was a perfect bluebird morning, with the mountain out in all its hunky fabulousness. We had to stop and get the requisite top of Green Valley with Rainier in the background shot. I have many shots of myself and friends here over the years.

But the peak skiing this past winter was my first trip north of the border to Whistler-Blackcomb in over 20 years. The village had grown beyond recognition from my last visit, but then the Olympics there in 2010 gave it a boost. We cross-country skied the first afternoon and last morning, bracketing a glorious day skiing mostly at the top of Blackcomb on Seventh Heaven and Glacier Express area.

Top of Seventh Heaven, with Coast Range beyond.

I enjoyed my first real apr├Ęs ski in years at the Wizard Grill in Whistler Village. You're never too old to dance and group sing along. While we made our own breakfasts at our timeshare in the village, we also had a great dinner out at Caramba, a popular Italian restaurant.

Girls' weekend

Between trips to Crystal and Whistler, there were some winter walks in the woods in some Seattle parks. There's beauty in the sparse winter forest too. A steady rain accompanied me during a January walk in South Seattle's Seward Park below. 

As winter drew to a calendar close last weekend (and temps broke 60 degrees F!), I celebrated with a hike with some of my favorite women in one of my book clubs (Alpine Trails) at one of my favorite places (Deception Pass State Park). I took off my jacket and enjoyed the relative warmth in such a beautiful place.

Deception Pass Bridge

And the day before, I also celebrated the end of winter/coming spring with a swim with the S Pod (or most of it) on a brilliant late winter day.  While the water is still pretty darn cold and won't really start warming up for another several weeks, we lingered on the beach in the sun afterwards. It was marvelous.

As Seanna said, towel sarongs are a thing here.

So that's a taste of a Pacific Northwest winter in western Washington/British Columbia. The weather has been a bit colder than whatever normal used to be. It has been a great ski season, but we're looking forward to warmer and drier days ahead.

How was your winter?

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