On Saturday Emily and I decided that it was time for a backcountry ski adventure, so she stopped by our house in the morning and at 8:30am we packed up and headed for Snoqualmie Pass. We decided to do a tour up Mount Margaret, so we exited at Hyak and crossed the highway to the Gold Creek Sno-park. We were delighted to find that the trail head was over run with snowmobilers, and so our first pleasurable moment of the outing was opening the car door and breathing in the hazy fog of blue smoke and hearing the musical sounds of them all rev'ing their 2-stroke engines.
We suited up and headed down the trail, happy to leave the noise and stench behind (at least temporarily, until the went roaring past us). The route starts by following an unplowed road for about 3km, which is a little unpleasant since it is about 20 feet from I-90 making it very loud. Eventually the trail switchbacked up and away from the highway, and the snow quality started to get a little better also (it was pretty warm out and really slushy where we parked).
Eventually we left the road and headed up through a clear cut which was a lot more fun, since we were no longer on the snowmobile tracks. Here is a picture of Emily heading up, with Keechelus Lake visible in the background below:
It had been a sunny day when we left Seattle, but as per usual as soon as we neared Snoqualmie Pass it became socked in with fog. Ah, the joys of the PNW! We continued through the clear cut, and at about 3900 feet the forest began again and we reached the ridge that would lead us to the summit. All of the trees on the ridge were completely encrusted in snow, making for some splendid white scenery as shown in the photo below.
We continued along the ridge, which first led to a false summit then descended briefly and continued on to the true summit at 5600 feet. It was pretty foggy, but we could tell that the ridge was heavily corniced and dropped off sharply to one side. Emily is peering over the edge of the abyss in the photo below:
The guide book we were using had instructed us to start our descent before reaching the summit, but I immediately recognized how ridiculous that would be so we continued on to the summit before de-skinning and prepping for the powder feast that lay before us. We then headed down through the trees, traversing towards our ascent route when the trees were too tight and then making turns down through open sections. The snow was pretty good considering how warm it had been down low, there was definitely good powder to be had though it was considerably heavier than other deep snow I have skied in (after being spoiled by the dry and fluffy champagne powder in Utah, this was my introduction to the soggy cascade concrete). Here I am with a big smile on my face since we just found a nice steep open shot through the trees that was just begging to be skied:
Here is a shot of Emily freeing the heel and freeing the mind:
And then finally one of me heading down with my patented pole flying pole technique:
Eventually we emerged back at the base of the clear cut, which we headed down to connect with the snowmobile track that we had taken up. We then bee-lined it down this section, skinned along the final flat section of road, and were back at the car. What a great day! Shown below is a topo map of our route with our GPS track plotted on it. We started on the left by I-90, and the loop near the top is because we descended along a different route than we had climbed up.
The total elevation gain for the day ended up being 3100 feet with 17.5km covered, not too bad for leaving Seattle at 8:30am and being back at the house before 5:00pm. The elevation profile is plotted below:
This was a lot of fun, much better than the previous tour I had attempted in Snoqualmie Pass (Mount Amabalis with Fras and Beno over Christmas) so it left me excited to explore more of the Snoqualmie backcountry options. We drove back to Seattle where we met Roanne back at our house and then were joined by Andrew who drove up from Tacoma for a really fun dinner. Good times!
Finally, it is time to sum up the weekly weigh-ins, I had a 2010 record weigh-in this morning with a 161.0, so that was good news. However, the weekly average was a little lackluster as I came in at 162.1, just 0.4 lbs less than last week. Oh well, I will redouble my efforts for the coming week. The one thing that may work in my favour this week is that I now have a job, and during the week I will no longer be able to sit around the house eating cookies all day.
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