What with the pressures of modern life, it was time to get out of town for some outdoor time this weekend. I went on my first solo cross country ski. Normally I go with my dad, I enjoy it, he enjoys it, so we go together. Today however, he is here:
So, if I wanted to ski, it was solo or nothing (Russell does not ski).
I decided to go to Amabilis Mountain. Its out of the Cabin creek Sno-park and is a nice 8 mile round trip through varied terrain. The lower part of the trail is groomed, up to where the loop begins, then your on your own. After running Satchmo I was off.
I arrived in the rapidly filling parking lot around 10:20 am. Normally at this point my dad declares the local temperature and what wax we will be using for the day. Today, I got to decide on my own. Last time we used purple, and it seemed right for today. There was still purple wax on my skis, so I took off strait away. This didn't work so well, I was fine on the flat, but I wasn't going to be able to climb, just not enough wax. I paused at the base of the Amabilis split, and rewaxed with a little more purple. Perfect! And I was off.
The track climbs a groomed set of switchbacks in the forest. Its nice. As I was climbing apparently some local military base was having some kind of training. Three times some kind of jet went supersonic, it was kind of neat to hear the booming. I finally saw the last one, not close enough to catch a photo of sadly. It was way off to the south. Up and up and up.
The last photo is just be low the "Y". This is where the grooming stops, and most of the nordic skiers turn back. I was in for the full loop however. I went left, which is the long route to the summit. I should mention now, that there were signs of snowshoers on the groomed portion. With the exception of one group I saw, they were doing a good job of staying off the groomed track. Once past the end of the grooming however, all bets were off. Snowshoe tracks everywhere. Dear Snowshoers, please please make and stick to your own tracks, it is not necessary to tromp through every patch of snow just because it is there (especially if you are walking in ski tracks).
That was pretty much the worst section. Further up there was a clear "snowshoer" path and a clear ski path, nicely side by side. Up and up and up I went.
As you get higher, Mount Rainier emerges from behind the ridge to the south.
Its right in the gap between the trees.
Once you reach the ridge top is where navigation can become tricky. There's a break between the two roads. The trick is to go right at the big trees. You'll know your at the trees, trust me. Just follow their edges and you'll meet up with the other road.
Finally the top.
The funny thing here, is apparently snowshoers lack the capability to navigate the remainder of the loop and just turn around. Ah, fresh snow with only a handful of other skiers.
While going up goes and goes and goes. Coming down is quite quick. Especially if the snow has warmed and you have wax for colder snow! Rocket Ski's. I stopped at the Y to rewax with a warmer wax to slow the rocket, and off I went.
Total Ski time, 3.5 hours for 8 miles. Would have gone slower, but this was also a training ski for Hog Loppet.
Once down, an appropriate celebratory beverage (Just one!) on the way home.
Couldn't have asked for a better day out or better weather and conditions!