Here in Washington State our skiers, snowboarders and all around winter enthusiasts are a little bummed with the lack of snow. Ski resorts are closed. Festivals are being cancelled.
As we drove past Snoqualmie Pass last weekend en route to a quick getaway in Cle Elum, Washington, instead of the usual winter scene of clean white powder, we saw rocky mountains and hills mixed with whitish-brownish slush. Though we did see a few kids tubing down one hill, thanks to some artificial snow, the rest of the area looked more like Seattle when we get a little dusting: Thin layer of white with lots of green grass poking through.
On the bright side, we were blessed with very little traffic and we anticipated some nice hiking conditions. Yes, aside from worrying about the ski resorts losing money and the small towns suffering from lack of ski commerce, we were okay with the scene since we really weren’t after any ski-related activity. Just looking to enjoy a quiet, unplugged day or so in the mountains.
After getting situated in our cabin rental, we set off to explore the Teanaway Valley and find a suitable hike. First we headed west just a mile or so from the cabin. When the paved road turned to dirt and gravel, we were met with a clean sheet of ice suitable for skating, not driving and certainly not hiking.
We continued on anyway, and thought we’d found a great spot when I saw a sign marking the national forest area and a hiker symbol pointing us toward a trail. We got all geared up, packed Bergen into the carrier on Slaed’s back, and in the time it took me to grab Norman (the dog) and organize my belongings, the boys had taken a spill. The trails here were just as bad as the roadway.
Bergen was fine, protected by the pack, just a little shaken up, while Slaed endured a few scrapes on his knee along with some bruising and soreness. Wonderful dad and husband that he is though, he agreed to continue on to try to find a spot that was a little less icy.
So we ventured back and tried another direction…and another…and then another only to find ice everywhere. It became obvious why we had only seen a handful of people. No snow, you can hike. With snow, you can snowshoe. With ice…that’s a little trickier.
On the way to one of these ventures, we did notice one white minivan parked just outside of a trail entrance, and even though we ignored this spot initially, it gave us hope that we could at least go back and explore it’s hiking possibilities.
You can probably guess that’s exactly what we ended up doing. Thanks to a nice open meadow-valley of an area that receives plentiful sun, we were able to create a hike (of sorts) for ourselves. Now it wasn’t completely iceless. We still had to dodge some slick spots and did our fare share of slipping, but no more falling.
And when we finally didn’t have to worry so much about a skating rink at our feet, we had a chance to enjoy the view. Aside from a bird or two, we curiously saw little wildlife, but for some reason I felt as if a cougar would come around to meet us at any moment! Oh, and we did run into the owner of the minivan. Just a loan hiker out for a nice walk. He was smarter than us though–he had hiking poles!
Have you ever run into less than favorable conditions on an outdoor adventure? What happened?
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