Skiing into Spring
Here in Western Washington many of us wait in anticipation for the coming of spring. Indications of this seasonal change are different for different people. For some it’s sighting the first of the migratory birds, blossoms of the indian plum, deer in their spring velvet, tulips bursting from the warm ground, or the eerie drumming of the ruffed grouse. Now don’t get me wrong, I enjoy and look forward to all of these milestones, but I am a backcountry skier. Spring to me means smooth, fast, Cascade corn snow so I wait in anxious anticipation for the opening of Hwy. 20 over Washington Pass to access the deep snowpack and rugged mountains of the North Cascades.
The looking down Hwy 20 west from Cutthroat ridge
Last Friday my spring officially started as the metal gate restricting access to the heart of the Cascades and beauty of Eastern Washington was lifted after the four-month winter closure. Campers, climbers, road bikers, sightseers, motorcyclists and backcountry skiers alike migrated to the beauty of this wild place over the past week. Those of us living at the Learning Center rejoiced at our new freedom and many took advantage of the great spring weather to explore our amazing backyard.
As I enjoy the emergence of morels and fiddleheads, the song of the varied thrush and white-crowned sparrow, my spring is complete with access to this diverse alpine environment at my doorstep. I will relish my cool early mornings climbing through enchanted forests on the way to distant peaks and perfect skiing in the sunshine.
Nate and Shawn skinning across Lake Anne