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Grooming ReportDuring the ski season, which is usually from around April 2, 2018: Skiers, 'm seeing buttercups between patches of snow, and though today it feels like the wind is blowing off a glacier somewhere, it's inevitable that skiing will end. It's been a fantastic year at Highlands, with excellent snow and stellar grooming. The shelter, though still to be finished, was used in all the ways we had envisioned and more, and a big, huge thank you goes to Rob for managing the building project. Thanks too, to all of you who helped at the site, to all of you who made an extra donation towards the project, and to Midway Building and Zossel's Lumber for discounting some of the materials we used. Thanks to Stacy for keeping up the website and for collating all the safety ideas you sent in, and to Dan for being in the right place at the right time when he was needed. Thanks to Al, Greg and Todd who make a fantastic grooming crew, and thanks to Walter for once again writing the annual grant that funds the grooming. A special thanks goes to Jack, who always gets the above and beyond award. Jack grooms, moves fallen trees, grooms again, trims weighted branches, grooms again, skis, grooms again, keeps track of the sign in sheets, grooms again, calls the county about the road, grooms again, chases moose away from the snowmobiles at dawn, and grooms again. He is there before it’s light, catching the snow when it responds best to his machines, and always knows everything about all the trails. I can't imagine our Sno Park without him!
In addition, I want to thank everyone who skied and snowshoed this winter. Without such an enthusiastic group of people who love being outdoors in the wintertime, we wouldn't have a Sno Park. I hope each of you has a wonderful spring, summer and fall, and manages to find something interesting to do until it's once again time to…
March 20, 2018: Skiers, after a long hiatus, we celebrated the solstice by clipping into skating skis on Straight Edge this morning. The sun was bright and bone warming, and my first inclination was to lean on my ski poles and drowse in its encircling radiance. Too much fun awaited us though. Who needs a trail on a crusty spring morning? We skated to the center of the meadow at about 11:00, probably missing the sweetest conditions by an hour as our poles occasionally went deep, leaving us flailing a bit. Still, it was splendid being "out of bounds", rolling with the terrain, sliding down one hill and part way up the next before kicking into a skate rhythm. At various points we could see the tops of Bonaparte, Sitzmark, Baldy, Chopaka and Windy Peak, all holding snow like spring will never come, while thunderheads built behind Mt. Hull. Spring is here though. While there is still time, take advantage of our copious snow and.... Come ski!
February 28, 2018: Today I groomed the 150 Rd and the Snomo & 130 Rds across the top. Yesterday it was Straight Edge and Sunshine Loop which looked good today with little drifting. The road to the upper parking was good with 2-way traffic. Snow is in the forecast for Wednesday night and Thursday, so more grooming scheduled for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. February, 21, 2018: The County plowed the road this morning. Two way traffic again! Today Jack groomed the 150 road and the Snomo/130 roads across the top. No grooming on Wednesday, But Greg and Todd are helping Thursday and Friday.
February 20, 2018: President's Day was cold! 6 degrees below 0 @ 8 AM! Sunny with just a little wind and drifting. The parking lot had about 6” of new snow. Jack groomed Hej Bue and Straight Edge, then the 150 Road. There was over a foot of new snow at the top! The County has not plowed the road yet, but 3 Subarus made it to the upper parking lot without too much trouble. By the afternoon it was 16 degrees (almost blue wax temp), beautiful blue sky, and just enough wind to start blowing the powder snow out of the trees.
February 9, 2018:Skiers, as he said he would, Jack groomed this morning, smoothing the skating lanes on the west side of the park from Straight Edge and Sunshine Loop to the top of Windsong, and setting a new track on Windsong after the junction with Stinger. I had my classic skis so we went for Windsong. The snow in the track was frozen when we started, gained a little corn snow up the first hill and became quite lovely as we climbed, particularly when we reached the new classic grooming. George skated graceful by me, his long, gliding ski marks contrasting sharply to the choppy herringbones I made when my violet klister wouldn't hold me in the track. The trees were mostly bare of snow, but towards the top there were occasional big patches of white stuck at eye level in the dense fir, as if showing a billboard that reads: "Winter Isn’t Over Yet!"
And in spite of the sunshine, there was a surprisingly cold sharpness in the air which we met head on going down. The descent was fast, but because the skating lane was in such great shape, we had no trouble controlling our snowplows.
Sun, snow, new grooming and a plowed road - do I need to say.....
February 7, 2018:Skiers, we skied out of town this weekend in sunshine and in rain, and on soft, slow snow. We found anything but that at Highlands this morning. The sun was brilliant and the snow sparkled back to mimic it. There was a good crust, which made skating fast, and no grooming, which made it tricky. Going up the SnoMobile Road we found the crust slightly breakable, and it was much more so once we got to the 150. We decided to turn around and try Straight Edge. Even going down the that part of the SnoMobile Road I wedged my ski to slow down and caught it in my own skate track, resulting in a fairly respectable face plant.
Straight Edge was indeed much more fun. It was still crusty, but solidly so and unmarred. We went round and round while the clouds slowly pulled a veil over the sun, muting the landscape once more. Perhaps by this afternoon the snow will find it's sweet spot, somewhere between frozen and thawed. Missing the perfect moment was OK too. We had a lovely hour inhaling fresh air, chatting with a snowshoer, looking at wildlife tracks and skating.
A NOTE FROM JACK: I checked the weather report and Lost Lake RAWS this morning. It was 34 degrees this AM! Too warm to groom today. It looks like Friday/Sat mornings will be cold enough to continue grooming.
February 1, 2018:Skiers, we paused in clipping into our skis (a little later than usual) to watch a gray jay flit around the trees in the parking lot, then come down to poke in the snow around someone's bonfire remnants. Our groomers must have been equally animated this morning to make so much of yesterday''s ice and crust disappear. Whitetail, Windsong, Hej Bue((I think, we didn't go down there) Straight Edge and the SnoMobile Rd. have all been textured and set. We went up the SnoMobile Rd. and then out the 150. Skiing was great in the track with violet klister. George had patterned skis and found them a little slippery on the uphills but did fine where it wasn't too steep. The inner Antoine and Aava's draw have not been recently groomed, and the skating lane on the 150 is a bit tracked up and crusty, and very fast, but the classic track remains in great shape.
There was something about seeing most of the snow gone from the trees, watching the sun burn off clouds while we skied, and listening to the skis skitter on the downhills that made it suddenly seem like spring isn't very far away. Ah well, there is a good chance it will snow tonight. We have a fabulous base and lots of time left.
January 30, 2018: (Submitted 7:50p.m.) Went skiing late today. The road had been plowed and sanded all the way in, and the parking lot plowed as well! Even by sundown the snow had never melted, still fast granular sugar consistency on Whitetail and Windsong.
January 30, 2018:Skiers, what a day in the Highlands. We skied through sunshine and deep shadow, the gray of the past days finally separating itself into black and white. With two groomers going, the entire west side of the park is in beautiful shape, and at least the beginning of the Snowmobile Road has also been taken care of since last time I was there. The one skier I saw in the track was moving along beautifully, and it was a day made for skaters. I met a friend in the parking lot who had just finished her ski, and in her exercise induced high she said it was perfect! She was right. Another friend and I started with some technique work, and we were able to easily glide along without poles. Meanwhile George went to the top of Windsong, and when I headed that way myself I could see what everyone was talking about. I found long, uphill glides and an easily controllable descent. Somewhere in the midst a chickadee sang, and though I couldn't begin to echo him, my fast beating heart was full of song.
The road in is fine at the bottom. Past the private driveway there is a glaze of ice in the wheel wells; no one was having problems, but be aware.
And by all means,
January 27, 2018: Skiers, skiing was a study in clouds today, with misty fog; big, gray, round bundles of snow holding vapor; and a glaze of white over a bright sky. When the glaze spread apart the sky, so long covered, forgot to be blue for a moment or two. But the best part of the ski was being out with the young ones. They ranged in age from an eight month old in a pulk to the skilled 11 year old who found herself pulling small, first time skiers along. All made it to the hut, where George had skated ahead to build a fire, and one of the moms had hot chocolate and snacks for the kinder. And the kids, cheerful and full of fun, had energy left over to stage a snowball fight, the baby looking on.
Between the new snow and the wind blowing it all about, most of Jack's work over the past few days had filled in. However, he set a beautiful track up Windsong this morning, and for once, classic conditions were better than those for skating. I found myself gliding in perfect grooming, while skating George was encumbered by several inches of new snow. So it goes.
January 25, 2018: Skiers, Jack has groomed Whitetail to the hut, Pomme du Pin, Sunshine and Hej Bue. Skating is fabulous and there is at track set everywhere but Whitetail. The blue sky ebbs and flows, and while the road hasn't been plowed it is drivable. All is well.
January 24, 2018Skiers, it's snowing. It’s been snowing all day and seemingly all last night, a snow right at freezing, varying between almost rain to thick flakes that lay down inches. We heard from the source that there was no grooming this morning but we went skiing anyway. Already as we began we were pushing through five inches or so, and lucky for us, three strong intrepid women, some of the Okanogan's best, had gone ahead of us and broken trail to the top of Windsong. It was fun to see them coming down as we climbed, in colors and skirts, with snowflakes in their eyelashes.
They passed us by and we continued to the top, stopping where we could to shake snow from trees overhanging the trail, cooling ourselves with their burden while they lifted towards the sky. Then it was our turn to slide downhill in so much snow that even my yellow skis were covered in ribbons of white. What fun!
January 23, 2018: Skiers, highlands was in its glory yesterday: new snow, new grooming, new sunshine and glowing people. Todd and Jack groomed Whitetail, the part of the Antoine that goes through the woods, and Aava's Draw. The day before the 150 had been groomed and it was graced with a couple inches of new powder, which a friend said made unbelievably good skating. My companion and I went the same way on classic skis and were equally thrilled with the conditions. Then there was the sun that warmed our faces, the beads of ice glistening on the alder, and the deep winter tableau along the creek where the snow has yet to fall from the trees, and pools of dark, open water lay still in the swirls of white ice. Partway back our eyes were drawn to wing beats, and we watched a pileated woodpecker land halfway up a big fir snag and work his way to the top, his red head striking against the tree and the blue sky. What a way to spend the midday.
January 20, 2018: Skiers, toda'’s obligations sent us to the Sno Park early this morning to make a run up Whitetail. It was fabulous skating over excellent grooming, and we sailed through the fog. From the shelter on, the trees along the trail are still flocked with snow and the alders bow low to honor the mid winter. Jack was grooming Hej Bue, Sunshine and Straight Edge while we skied, and the road is in better shape than it's been all winter. Come ski!
January 19, 2018:I groomed this morning-Windsong, Whitetail, and Pomme de Pin. The road has been plowed! Please remind folks to carry handsaws and help with all the down trees. I can get the bigger trees with the chainsaw. Thanks.
January 17, 2018: Skiers, I haven't been out to the park today but I got a phone message from someone who had. He said the road was difficult to drive on since this latest wet snow, and that the park has yet to be groomed. I'll keep you posted as I learn more.
January 15, 2018: Skiers, this morning's snow was too slow, too fast, and just right, depending on where we skied. Snow has been melting from the trees, and under the drip lines on Hej Bue and the section of Twista Vista that goes down to Sunshine Loop, there are spots of pure ice, making things fast. Hej Bue is now open all the way to the lower meadow and Straight Edge is groomed! We thought it might be soft but it was well set, albeit a bit rough from a first grooming and lots of skate skis trying it out. The best skiing was on Sunshine Loop, where we found smooth skating and snow that was wonderful to glide on. The band of clouds that had been hovering over us cleared when we were out there, and the trail lived up to its name.
When we got to the junction of Pomme du Pin and Twista Vista we thought we'd go to the end of the latter to get that spectacular view of Baldy that a clear day can offer. Suddenly, we were slowed to a crawl, our uphill glides reduced to big herringbones. We decided to put that energy into getting back to Whitetail on Pomme and turned around. It was a slow climb and I developed a new poling pattern to clear the snow from my baskets. At the junction we met friends, one of whom was on waxless skis, and I wasn’t surprised to learn that she was clumping. Whitetail was slow all the way to the parking lot, and that gave us time to admire the sun shining on Sitzmark where people are riding to the top of the hill and skiing down her flanks.
Jack has reminded me to ask people to carry small handsaws to help cut away some of the branches that are overhanging the tracks. He has been working hard with his chain saw to keep trails open for us. Trees are coming down; we were obliged to ski around a larch that was too big for us to move on Twista Vista, and Jack was slowed by downed trees this morning as he was grooming the 150. Perhaps this light thaw will shake most of the snow out of the canopy just in time to have more fall from the sky. More snow and more grooming is all we ever need.
January 13, 2018:Skiers, what a day in the Highlands, pure sunshine, cloudless sky, warm (but not too warm) temperatures and new grooming. Jack opened Hej Bue and we skied down and around Sunshine Loop on a perfectly set track. It was beautiful to be in the aspens, where the ice droplets at the end of each branchlet reflected twinkling blue sky and the sunshine warmed our faces even when we were just standing still absorbing it all. We met Jack grooming on the Loop, and when we came around we decided to follow him to see if he had gone down to the lower meadows. He hadn't, and it was so nice where we were that we decided to do the Loop again. At the top the hill where Sunshine approaches the Loop we met George, skating up in the opposite direction. He'd been to the end of Whitetail and gone down Pomme du Pin. We followed him back up Hej Bue and chatted with friends at the junction who were coming back from the top of Windsong. All we could say was how wonderful it all was!
January 11, 2018:
Skiers, the good news is, it's snowing (have I said that before?) And the other good news is that the county has plowed the road into the park. Even with the new snow that fell this morning, the drive was infinitely easier than it has been. Add that to the good news that Jack groomed this morning, and you know that skiing is great!
We started on Whitetail. The skating lane was smooth and newly furrowed but we were all classic skiing and pushing through four or so inches of new snow on the track. The snow was light enough to make it easy though, and when we ran into Jack on his machine, he told us he had reset the track on Windsong so we were happy with our choice. From the hut up, classic skiing was excellent, and all the way to the top there were just skis and snow, snow and snow.
Coming down was perfect, once we all adjusted our sunglasses so we could protect our eyes from those one-of-a-kind sharp crystals (which the sky sifts gently down when we’re going uphill and flings into our faces when going down) and still see. It was fast enough to be fun and slow enough to be easy, and by the time we got to the parking lot we were convinced we had just experienced the best ski ever.
It can be your best one too.
January 10, 2018: Note from Jack on the road and grooming:
Talked to Lyle Scott this morning and he said they would get to our road sometime today. They have to hit all other roads first, so……I am going to wait till tomorrow to groom.
January 9, 2018: Skiers, the good news is it snowed another four inches last night! However, it's foggy and the road to the park still has not been plowed. For the first time ever, George and I drove to the turn off and turned around. We just couldn’t see where the road is. Had it not been foggy, we would have gone up, and had the road been plowed we would have been able to see it. The snowplow is on Havillah Road right now, so it's possible it will plow the Highlands road. I'll let you know how things stand tomorrow, or if someone gets there today, let me know.
Oh well, there's plenty of skiing from home!
January 7, 2018: Skiers, I met Jack in the parking lot this morning. He said he had groomed Sunshine Loop, so I clipped into my skis and headed that way. Yesterday's snow was laid down nicely and it was fun to roll around Pomme du Pin and down to Sunshine. The Loop was way better than expected for a first grooming, with a firm platform and a new track. It was foggy and being in the meadow was like skiing through iced glass with ever changing landscape etchings. The trail to Hej Bue and the lower meadows had not been groomed (perhaps tomorrow, Jack thinks) so I went around and back up the way I had come. Some big trees had tipped over the trail last summer. Jack cut some of them out and slightly rerouted part of the track to avoid others. It’s as great as always.
Back on Pomme du Pin I skated to the end of the grooming. The lane was in excellent condition, though of course there were no rewarding views at the end. I wouldn't have climbed up Twista Vista even if it had been open, so I turned around and did all of Pomme again, resting when I got to Whitetail after the last uphill pull. All of Whitetail was newly groomed but I had a little time and so went up Windsong. Though I was pushing through yesterday's inch or so of snow, the base was solid and smooth. Occasionally, the fog coalesced into snowdrops and another fine layer of white began to collect. At the top I thought I might get a glimpse of blue but even more wonderful was the snow I found falling. I drank some water and zipped up my shirt and vest for the trip down and had an amazing ride with cold snow melting on my hot face, and skis sliding and skating all the way down.
And, a few of people have seen a moose in the last few weeks. Keep your eyes open and. . . .
January 5, 2018: Skiers, in spite of today's warmer temperatures the skiing remains excellent. Last night there was an inch or so of new snow and I thought the classic skiing might be good. It was, but the skating was superb. Jack had groomed the SnoMobile Rd. and the Antoine Connector this morning, and he reset the track from the junction with the 150. George said he felt the skating platform was made just for him, and indeed, I could tell by the length of his glide that he was in his element. I loved the track too, though even on my Toko red I had to hop into the skate lane for a herringbone dance a time or two. No matter, we both made it to the top and were delighted to find that the Connector was groomed all the way across, though we lost the track in the more difficult places. We didn't go down the other side though. The new snow had formed a thin, breakable crust where it hadn’t been groomed, and we thought it would be easier to go down the way we had come up. I’m sure we were right, the descent was fast (and loads of fun) and we were able to maintain a comfortable speed in our snowplows. I did have time to notice going by that the section of Antoine that goes through the woods had been skate groomed before last night's snow.
With any luck, what falls from these gray skies will land as snow, and the temperatures will stay low enough to keep it.
PS As of this morning, the road still hadn't been plowed. We had no trouble, but be aware.
January 1, 2018: Skiers, what a way to celebrate the turning of the New Year. Jack and Todd groomed all morning and we took full advantage of the Antoine side of the park. Some of us were skating, some in the track, and we all found superb conditions: a beautiful skate platform and a track to die for. We went on the 150 and found that the lower inner Antoine was groomed for skating but not for classic. The young among us went that way and the rest of our group continued to Aava's Draw where both types of tracks were laid out for us. Up and around we went, enjoying great snow, and then up again on the outer Antoine. Jack had told us he hadn’t groomed across so we sent one of our hardy young bucks, who had already lapped us at least once on his skate skis, ahead to forge through the new snow while our other young buck broke track for those of us on our classic skis. It's always great to have strong, expert skiers in the front. And at the top we were rewarded for all that climbing with an opening in the clouds and blue sky.
We soon skied out of that, but coming down was perfect on newly groomed snow-fast and controllable and fun. With snow as new as the year, what else could you want to do but...
December 29, 2017: Skiers, in this holiday week it is snowing. Jack groomed the skating lanes on Whitetail, Pomme du Pin, Windsong, and the SnoMobile Rd. George went ahead while I rubbed hard blue was into my newly cleaned classic bottoms and chatted with friends in the parking lot. And though Jack had just finished his work when we arrived, I could see by his tracks that George was pushing at least two inches of new snow with his skate skis. I finally caught him on Windsong where he had stopped to carve an elf face into snow hanging on a small trailside fir. Some people never leave their tools behind.
The track I was in had not been reset but it didn't matter. The new snow gave me excellent purchase and we continued to the top as it continued to fall. Coming down was fun, though I was obliged to wear my windbreaker, and George wished he had brought a warmer hat. (It has warmed up, but is still in the lower 20s, and snowing.) We met friends who were coming up Pomme du Pin, and from there to the parking lot a whole host of skiers (and at least one snowshoer) were strung out on the trail, wearing bright clothes and brighter smiles.
Jack says he's grooming again tomorrow and will probably set new track. And it's still snowing.
December 27, 2017: Skiers, it was cold and silent at Highlands this morning. The road hadn't been plowed, but there had been enough traffic to make it easily drivable for snow worthy vehicles. We could see Al had groomed the skating lane on Whitetail, and with a vague idea of going to the end and trying Twista Vista, we skated away. The platform was unblemished and the skiing great, surprisingly so for as cold as it was. As we moved along flakes were drifting from a snow pregnant sky, and the only color my eyes could find was the clash between George's red skis and the orange jacket he had tied around his waist when he got too hot on the hill. Twista Vista however was not negotiable for us with our gear and skill level, so we turned around, enjoying long, effortless glides. Both Windsong and Pomme du Pin were also newly groomed, though the tracks had not been reset on any of the trails.
Going back, Sitzmark and the sky were the same color, one occluding the other, and the entire landscape took on a soft, muted hue, waiting for snow.
December 26, 2017: From Catherine, Lake Chelan Nordic Ski Club President: The January 6th, 2018 Echo Ridge Ski Loppet Registration is open! Go to http://www.lakechelannordic.org/events/ to register!
December 24, 2017: Skiers,
The Sno Park has decorated itself for Christmas. The trees are dressed in their best whites, and yesterday the brilliant sun had scattered silver, green and red glitter over the snow. It was wonderfully cold and conditions were perfect in the classic track. Our neighbor had been watching the weather forecast, and before he left for his family Christmas he lent me his tube of polar green wax. I used it yesterday with relish!
We couldn't resist the sunshine and so we started by climbing up the SnoMobile Rd. From the Connector we saw that the section of Antoine through the woods wasn't groomed so we continued the climb. Once again, the trail through the top was delightful, though the latter part was still too gnarly to have a set track. The views were great however, and at the top Bonaparte, covered in snow, stood sentinel.
We sailed through the dips, George ahead knocking snow out of the trees with his poles, and saw at the bottom that the next section of the Antoine Loop had a newly set track. And so we climbed into our second top-of-the-world wonder of the day, loosing the track on the steepest parts, but finding it when it was most appreciated. At the trail junction, Antoine’s grooming went on, and we chose to go down Aava's Draw so we could be longer in the sunshine.
Back in the parking lot we met snowshoers and a cyclist! There are so many ways to have fun in this sparkly season.
December 22, 2017: If you're out and about here is news from Echo Ridge ski area near Chelan. This is not a sno park and there is a fee involved. Read further, Patti
FYI…Echo Ridge Nordic Ski Area officially opens on Saturday, Dec 23. However, very good skiing will be available Friday. For more info http://www.lakechelannordic.org/
South Summit trails on the Loup are also open with grooming on Thursdays or Fridays conditions permitting according to the https://skitheloup.com/ website.
December 21, 2017: Skiers,
Jack and Gregg had just finished grooming when we pulled into the parking lot this morning. They had both been working on the Antoine side, so we went that way. After yesterday's brilliance, the sun seemed to give into its weakened solstice state and sat glowing dimly behind an overcast sky. On the initial climb up the SnoMobile Road however, I saw that it had burned a tiny circle of clouds away and had ringed itself with blue, a small nod to its now growing power. That was the last we saw of sun or blue sky as we turned onto the 150. The skating was fabulous though. In spite of temperatures in the teens, the combination of new snow and new grooming let the skis skate themselves, albeit with a good measure of huffing and puffing from us.
Jack had told us that he had packed down the snow at the top with his snowshoes so he could take the groomer across. We followed of course, finding some fun side hills and turns in snow soft from its first touch of the machine, before meeting the more staid part of the trail. The outer Antoine is such a lovely ski.
The downhill was surprisingly fast and predictably cold. I stopped to put on my windbreaker and then was totally comfortable. Coming back to the parking lot I remembered Jack had said he groomed Twista Vista yesterday and started on Sunshine Loop, where he was stopped by some big fallen trees. Still, Twista Vista! There is a lot to explore.
December 16, 2017: Skiers,
New grooming went up Whitetail this morning and we did too. The track hadn't been reset, but the skating lane was perfect, at least according to George. I was on classic skis, doing well on a skiff of new snow with hard blue wax rubbed over cold blue klister. We saw Jack at the hut, cutting the plastic away to reveal our new door. He said he had gone to the top of Windsong, and not only groomed the skating platform but also reset the track. Still on his docket for the morning were the rest of Whitetail and Pomme du Pin. I didn't wait to hear much more, I was so excited about the track, and I was not disappointed. How can skiing up hill be so fun? As I climbed higher the snow was thick on the trees, weighing the lower limbs to the ground, and the sky was breaking blue. George was having fun too, going so fast that once he turned the first bend, the corners weren't far enough apart for me to see him again until he turned around at the top and met me coming down. Not to be shorted, I went to the top too, and he came with me, this time staying in sight (mostly).
The decent was fun and carefree over such nice grooming. Back on Whitetail we were treated to a pale aqua band of sky slipping behind Sitzmark. And better yet, when we got to the parking lot it was filling up with people, all eager to find joy in moving over snow.
December 16, 2017: Skiers,
As some of you know, we had an accident at the Sno Park last week. One of our highly experienced skiers took a fall late in the day and injured her knee. She saved herself by being smart, keeping her head, and having the right gear with her. That included:
- Warm jacket
- Warm mitts
- Charged cell phone (kept warm)
- High calorie snack
- She wishes she would have had a headlamp, as dark came quickly and there was no moon.
Once she assessed her injury and realized she wasn't going to be able to ski out, she put on her jacket and hood, and her warm mittens. She sat on the pack, tied the arm straps to her legs, left her skis on and began pushing herself down the hill. Periodically she tried her cell phone, and eventually was able to call for help. Between neighborhood efforts and search and rescue teams, she was back to the parking lot within a couple of very long, uncomfortable, scary hours.
The accident was unfortunate, and it could have been a lot worse. Since it happened, I've been talking to skiers and thinking about how to be safe. Here is a list of things to carry and things to do, particularly for those of us who ski alone. Consider this interactive. Many of you have more experience than me and may have comments or items to add.
- Warm jacket
- Warm hat
- Warm mitts
- Charged cell phone (kept warm)
- High calorie snack
- Small piece of ensolite to sit on
- Bear spray
And particularly for off trail adventures:
- Fire starting materials
- ALWAYS let someone know you are skiing and when you plan to be back
- Consider the time of day; things are easier in the light
- Leave a note and/or a map in you car saying where you are planning to go
- Leave a Walkie-Talkie in your car (paired to the one in your pack)
Cell phone coverage is spotty and the cold drains batteries. Verizon may work better than AT&T in the Highlands
Be safe when you come ski!
December 13, 2017: Skiers,
Under veils of cloud, we skated up the SnoMobile Rd. in mid-morning light. Aside from Whitetail, it was my first uphill skate this season and, as beautiful as the snow was, I was reminded that uphill is always uphill. We met Jack as he was coming down with the groomer, finishing his last pass and miraculously turning rough snow into a smooth, skiable surface. I was happy to stop and chat (and breathe), and happier yet when he told us that he would be closing the gates today and tomorrow. That should alleive future pickup truck tracks in the snow while allowing snowmobiles on the shared trail.
We continued up, glad when at last the trail flattened a bit, went past the junction with the inner Antoine and climbed again to find the Antoine Connector groomed. It was lovely to be there once more, the track feeling high and wild with moose or elk tracks telling us that the big animals appreciate Jack's work too. Then the grooming stopped. We could have pushed our way over the top to make a full loop, but we elected to save that for another day. We snowplowed easily down, our skis chattering a bit as we rode over our own skate tracks, while our friend in the classic track sailed gracefully by us.
At some point, the clouds, unable to keep hold of all their moisture, began to drop tiny crystals that almost looked like snow. Maybe tomorrow?
December 12, 2017: Skiers,
Yesterday's sunny reprieve is as shrouded in memory as the cloud-enveloped land is shrouded in mist today. What to do in such a landscape, go skiing of course. The skating lane looked well cared for, but we started towards the hut in the tracks. The snow was slippery from having lain there naked for so long. I had blue klister on my skies, which resisted gliding at all for the first five yards, then worked well. We found that Pomme du Pin was groomed and started down, ignoring the grass and occasional errant rose stem poking through. Going further though, the smears of dirt over the snow gave us pause, and remembering an unfortunate crash on this trail some years ago, we turned around and went to the end of Whitetail instead. It was lovely, with plenty of snow on the trail and in the trees, and with old man's beard lichen dripping with frost.
Coming back, my eye caught a movement on the side of the trail and George pointed out a snowshoe hare sitting behind a big fir, stilling itself to invisibility in the white, frozen air.
There is always something new to see.
December 10, 2017: Skiers,
It was good to be skating again today. These persistent clouds seem to let up a bit when we move, and I could see that the sun was valiantly trying to get through as I started up the SnoMobile Rd. Once again I went out the 150. The skating lane has seen a bit of abuse the last few days and was a little rough in places, but firm everywhere and easy enough to glide over. The track looked excellent, as did the inner Antoine and Aava’s Draw. It was so still and quiet, the only thing I saw moving besides my skis was a squirrel, carrying a cone from one side of the trail to the other. By the time I got to Jack’s caution sign where the creek sometimes dips across the trail, there was blue sky. The trees, in their frost and snow, were backlit by the sun and shining a brilliant white, welcome beacons emerging from their gray surrounds. With any luck, you too can find lit up greenery.
December 7, 2017: Skiers,
Today we met friends in the parking lot who exclaimed how great it is to be skiing so early in the season. Isn't it true! Today we were sandwiched between cloud layers, the snow reflecting the gray sky in all directions. My friend and I took classic skis out the 150 while George skated to the top of Windsong. We found that Jack has groomed Aava's Draw and the inner Antoine Loop (though we didn't try them out) and George found patches of blue sky as he climbed. We all did great on our combinations of gear and waxes over good, firm snow.
Jack tells us he's not to close the snow mobile gate until December 15, and someone has driven up the SnoMobile Rd, but only to the junction with the 150, and though the tires wove about a bit the trail isn’t tracked up too badly. All else remains snow laden and lovely.
December 5, 2017: Skiers, We were delighted this morning to see that Jack had groomed the SnoMobile Rd and the 150 (though he has not connected them yet). Eager to skate on the new snow, I fussed with my bindings in the parking lot until I realized one of them, after 25 years of use, was broken. No matter, we had other skis in the car, though not other boots, and the new bindings on my classic skis don;t fit the ones I skate in. George's waxless ski bindings do however, so I clipped into his overlong skis with my over rigid boots. We had a wonderful time all the way to the top of the 150 and down again. The track and the skating platform were perfect and the landscape was lovely. All the trees were weighted with snow, and where the creek ponds out the ice, still too warm to let the snow sit on it, pooled over running water. Throughout last night we were bathed by the moon, but the clouds came in this morning, flattening the light. In his black ski clothes, George looked like an elegant shadow skating ahead of me. Part way up the hill, the clouds began to tease apart, revealing patches of deep aqua sky and real shadows on the snow. The sun kept itself veiled in the mist though, as if mimicking last night's brilliant moon.
Over the weekend we skied in two different places. Neither held a candle to the conditions we have at Highlands right now. And, the county has plowed the road. It's wonderful.
November 29, 2017: Skiers, The morning dawned clear and the sun came up in a blue sky over brilliant snow, as if to show off what the clouds finally produced after hanging out for so long doing nothing. Driving into the park, the meadow grasses and larch trees were laden with diamonds, and the road, while not plowed, was easily navigated with our snow hardy Mariner. True to his word, Jack groomed Whitetail and Windsong this morning. We skated out and found the platform to be amazingly good, well set up and firm. There are a few places on Whitetail that will benefit from another pass with the groomer, and the snow is a little thin on the downhill from the shelter, but we know that will all be fixed soon. There are set tracks as well, and our friends said they are excellent all the way to the top of Windsong.
Jack told us that the snowmobile gate is supposed to be closed Friday, and then he will be able to groom the Antoine side. With snow expected tomorrow, things are going to get better and better.
November 28, 2017: From Jack: Looks like 4-6 inches new snow! Forecast says 24 degrees tonight. I will try to groom in the morning.
November 20, 2017:Skiers, What a surprise. There is snow and Jack has groomed Whitetail and Windsong! Yesterday, we waxed skis and wandered around gathering the hats, gloves, boots and poles we had stored last March, and headed to the park. Whitetail was decidedly thin at the bottom and the snow was slippery, so we were happy to see the track set on Windsong. At the beginning, a lot of the snow was mixed with larch needles and grass, and I was grateful for that because my wax found purchase on the detritus more easily than on the pure snow. George did better on his waxless skies, but even he moved out of the track to the more textured surface in the skate lane. As always, though, it got better the higher we went. As we slid up through an icy mist, we found deeper, colder snow, the skis responded, and suddenly we were really skiing again. The hill made our breaths deep and long, but they would have been anyway for the joy of moving over winter's white.
Thanks to everyone who came to the clean up day and meeting. We got a lot of debris moved off the trails, admired the work that’s been done on the shelter, and celebrated afterward. Jack was able to sell sno park stickers as we sat around the table. If you still need one, they are available on line at https://fortress.wa.gov/parks/ecomm/prod/Store/SNO/SnoChoice.aspx. You will want to choose the seasonal, non-motorized sno-park permit. They should also be for sale at the Forest Service. And, if you would like to pay your dues ($20.00/family, $15/individual) you can do so on our very own website at http://www.highlandsnordicsnopark.com/ourclub.html, or you can send it to: Highlands Nordic Ski Club
599 N Siwash
Tonasket, WA 98855
You need the sticker to park a vehicle where you can access the ski trails. You don't need to pay dues to ski, but the dues helps with our FS permit and other expenses we have to keep the park going. This year, any extra will go towards completing the snow shelter. In the parking lot we met friends who had taken their touring skis up the Shared Sno-Mobile trail and cut a trail the back way to the parking lot. They said it was fantastic. Wherever you decide to go, Come ski!
November 4, 2017: There is snow on the ground! This is a reminder that our workday is November 18.
October 5, 2017: Fall is in the air and we've set November 18, as the date for our annual workday, meeting and potluck. See the enclosed for details. The great news is, our long talked of shelter is under construction. Much thanks goes to Rob Thompson for volunteering to manage the project. Thanks too, to Rob and to George Baumgardner for gathering the materials, and to Rob, George, Jack Thurston and Andre Corso (thus far) for working to put the building together. Both Midway Building Supply and Zosel's Lumber have generously discounted high quality materials for the construction. Please patronize their businesses and thank them. And, thanks to your generosity with dues and donations over the years, we have enough money banked to pay for most of the materials. We will need your dues this year, and any extra you may want to contribute towards the shelter, to finish the project and rebuild our account so that we can cover our usual expenses for the upcoming season. Recall that we voted to raise the dues last year to $20.00/family and 15.00/individual. You can bring it to the workday, pay from our website at http://www.highlandsnordicsnopark.com/membership.html/ or mail a check to:
Highlands Nordic Ski Club
599 N Siwash
Tonasket, WA 98855
Remember that you will also need a state Sno-Park permit to park at Highlands. They can be obtained from any Forest Service office as the season grows near, or on line at http://parks.state.wa.us/134/Permits/
Enjoy the lovely fall, and we'll see you November 18. It won't be long before we can all.....
PS. For those of you who have moved away or, for what ever reason, would prefer not to get emails about Highland's, please reply to me and I can take you off the list.