Sunday, December 26, 2010

Winter Solstice above Austin Pass

12/21/2010 Tuesday

With a slight break in the weather it seemed to be a great opportunity to break out and dust off the snowshoes for the season.

A slight break in the weather means it actually stopped raining in the lowlands for a day and there were even forecasted moments of blue skies and sunshine.

Turns out that it's difficult to find a snowshoe buddy on a weekday with minimal notice - particularly in the days just before Christmas.

The agenda for the day was to snowshoe from Heather Meadows (located at the end of the Mount Baker Hwy #542) up to Austin Pass and possibly to Artist Point, depending on snow conditions, weather and the condition of my knee (which has been sore since a long run on Sunday).

On the way to the mountain, snow started to appear even before reaching the little town of Maple Falls and it was sporadic all the way to the sno-park just past the DOT Shed. Beyond that point the snow accumulated quickly as the road climbed higher.

Snowshoeing was slow going due to all the fresh powder encountered immediately upon leaving the groomed ski trail.

Not in a hurry whatsoever, I took a lot of time for photos but the cold weather quickly drained the batteries. Ditto for the backup batteries also.

Here are a few pics from the parking lot up to A$$burn Hill:

Here is Table mountain and one of Tanya's unbelievable Orange Chocolate Chip Cookie that she only shares with me during the holidays. Tastes great at home and really hits the spot on the trail. Thanks T!

The Austin Pass Lodge, in Sepia tone:

Distant Mountain in Sepia, then color. Not sure which peak this is exactly: Larrabee, American Pk, Goat Mtn, Canadian Peak? No idea... sorry.

Austin Pass lodge from higher up:


Huntoon Point:

Shuksan with snow drifts:

As you can probably imagine from the snow drifts, it was rather windy out in certain areas. The weather was nice, but the blowing snow quickly covered up snowshoe tracks in a number of places and left only a thick crust on the surface.

Near the base of A$$burn hill I met up with three snowshoers who were visiting the area in winter for their first time. They requested a group photo with their camera, but I couldn't get it to actually take a picture, so we exchanged emails and I just took it with my camera. Nice group... hope they had fun.

On the way back down I took a detour to a little overlook which proved to be a comfortable (wind-free) spot for lunch (and more cookies).

The Sepia version:

While on the way back to the parking lot I stopped at the BCA Avalanche Practice Search area to freshen up my Avalanche Beacon search skills. Clearly more practice would be a smart move on my part and probably appreciated by my future snowshoe partners. :)

The ride home was uneventful, although a couple Christmas shopping stops had to be made in Bellingham which made for a late return home.

Hopefully the weather will improve for next week and be conducive to at least a couple more outdoor recreation opportunities before returning to work.

Happy Trails!


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