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Grooming ReportDuring the ski season, which is usually from around Thanksgiving through early March, Patti Baumgardner sends out regular e-mail updates regarding snow and grooming. You may request to receive these e-mails by clicking here. As the site grows we are hoping to add an area for members to comment on their skiing experiences as well.
March 25, 2017: For the few diehards. Weather is cooperating, and I will try to groom Windsong/Whitetail Sunday AM. Road is very soft on first hill below Feddersen driveway, then OK.
March 9, 2017: Skiers, it's snowing. So what else is new? A soft view of Bonaparte wrapped in clouds from the meadows, with Sitzmark opposite in stark white light. New grooming from Hej Bue to Straight Edge to Ida's Ford, and up Goshawk and around the entire outer Antoine, but for the part from the road to the first junction. What’s not new is fantastic skiing in the track, though the skate platform was a little soft this morning with the new grooming. By tomorrow, it should be well set. This will be my last report for awhile; we’re headed south for some weeks tomorrow morning. Hopefully I can give you some idea of conditions through emails with Jack. Even if you don’t hear from me, we're almost certain to have snow into April. What a winter, what a spring! Come ski!
March 8, 2017: Skiers, it started snowing just as we began skiing yesterday morning, and it snowed all day, lying down fractions of inches at a time. Whitetail, Windsong and Pomme du Pin were newly groomed and the skating was fantastic. At the end of Whitetail we met a couple in the classic track who had come from the Methow to explore Highlands for the first time. Our Sno Park friends from Chelan had also made their annual visit, and there was a couple on the sign in sheet from Lummi Island. Our hidden jewel continues to be discovered by folks looking for a fantastic place to ski, and don’t we have it?
This morning has dawned soft and rosy with the overhead sky already turning blue. New snow and 22 degrees means it's going to be another fantastic day. Come ski!
March 5, 2017: Skiers, this morning we skied to the top of Windsong in falling snow with four new inches already on the ground. Once again, the trees were dressed in their northern fineries and the snow pillowed the trails. I could still see the outline of the tracks and my skis managed to find them and slide through the new powder. Between the two of us, we had patterns and wax, and both sets climbed well, impressing the lone raven who followed us to the top and cawed out how crazy it was to be flying through a March snow storm while skiers on the ground were taking so much pleasure in it. Then, as we turned to come down, the snow stopped and the sun came out, and suddenly we were in a different world. There was bright sky and sunlit mist, shadows and sparkles, and a sense of embracing warmth. We reached the junction and started back when something on the snow caught my eye. A small strand of old man’s beard lichen was turned into a circle and cartwheeling beside us in the light wind. On it rolled until some nuance in air current disturbed its inertia and it became yet another piece of detritus lying on the track. Discoveries are endless. Come ski!
March 3, 2017: Skiers, a drumming woodpecker greeted me as I stepped into my skis this morning and began skating toward the Antoine. The platform was good and the set track looked perfect. The inner loop had not been groomed, but I hadn't been up there in awhile and pointed my skis to the hill. There were three plus inches of new snow in places, all well tracked by skiers, their domestic companions and wildlife, and there was a bit of crust where the sun sometimes shines, but the skating was fine anyway. My approach interrupted a couple of whitetails browsing on the lichen of a recently dropped mistletoe broom. As they moved off the trail, the wind picked up and I watched the swaying trees with more than casual interest. Nothing was blowing over though, and thinking the deer would gain more fodder if a few more lichen covered limbs dropped, I continued on.
I was happy to find that the Connector and the Groomed Snowmobile Road were both recently combed over, and I went down in an easy snowplow over someone else’s hard earned skate tracks. Overhead, the sky was blue and to the west, deep gray clouds piled up, the bottom layer glowing white. As I went by the cut the snow predictably grew a little crusty, and the sun rolled over the ridge casting shadows. I hear it's supposed to snow tonight and then get cold.
March 1, 2017: Skiers, it's the first of March and there is so much snow! Jack and Todd tagged teamed the grooming this morning and set tracks and new skate lanes on Pomme du Pin, all the meadows, Goshawk and the 150. Whitetail and Windsong were also in excellent shape. Jack said the snow was perfect for grooming. It was perfect for skiing too, even if I was slightly over waxed with Toko violet. After going to the end of Whitetail and admiring (though not following) the hand set tracks down Twista Vista, I went down Pomme du Pin (over surprisingly slow snow) and up Twista Vista to the end of the grooming, admiring those tracks again. Heading towards Sunshine Loop a squirrel skittered over the trail in front of me, and then sat still, becoming one, in his gray fur coat and white ascot, with the bark and snow on a downed, lichen covered tree. I slipped closer and closer until he dove into the space between the snow and the tree that a tangle of branches created.
Out in the meadow Bonaparte ruled, its summit ringed with white against the mottled sky, while on the ground the snow had been sculpted into swirling patterns by the wind. I felt the wind later, climbing Goshawk, and it was a cooling respite from the relentless hill. And finally I was reminded that we are moving into spring when the sun exposed portions of the 150 made my skis even slower as I pushed for the parking lot. Still, the conditions are unbelievable. Of the junctions I went by, the only ones not groomed were Ranger’s Run, the inner Antoine and the Groomed SnoMobile Road. Celebrate March. Come ski!
February 28, 2017: Skiers, yesterday Al was on the groomer, renewing the skate lanes for Hej Bue, Sunshine Loop, Straight Edge, Goshawk and the 150. I thought I'd go down Pomme du Pin, but the new grooming sucked me down Hej Bue and I went out to Sunshine Loop that way. The sky was mottled gray, the snow only a shade whiter, and the aspens pulled the muted colors up their trunks and brushed the sky with their branches, declaring their place in the winter landscape.
The skating was fantastic. Climbing Goshawk, just as the trail tips up to the junction, I noticed a tiny birds nest in a little fir tree across the outer Antoine. The snow sitting in it mimicked a big egg, though of course the eggs that sat in it last spring would have been tiny. How many times have I skied by that tree this winter?
Aava's Draw wasn’t newly groomed, but not wanting to be a total wimp I started up. I shouldn't have given it a second thought. The new powder over a hard platform just slid out of the way, and at the three way junction I continued up. Coming over the top I saw that another skier had braved these conditions, and I marred new skate tracks as I went down and hit the pristine grooming on the outer Antoine again. Climbing once more, the wind began to move light clumps of snow from the trees and then new snow from the clouds, and at the spring that never freezes, the green plants, clear a few days ago, were covered with white. The new grooming stopped at the top, but going across was fun anyway, as was the downhill to the Connector and the long descent down the Groomed SnoMobile Road. Today has dawned cold (14) and clear, with the trees holding new snow. It's going to be stellar! Come ski!
February 24, 2017: Skiers, Ah, the winter continues. The snow started falling as I started climbing the Groomed SnoMobile Road this morning, though the sky was blue to the west. The grooming was new and I had a wonderful time chasing it. It didn't continue up the SnoMobile Road so I followed it up the inner Antoine. There wasn't a track set when the trail turned up the hill, but the skating lane was fine, particularly over the top, where glide always begins with an upper case G. At the junction, I could have managed continuing up on the ungroomed trail, but I was too enamored with that virgin corduroy and I followed my tracks back down, then skied up and over the other part of the Loop. (Do we have too many legs to Antoine Loop? (It’s hard enough to stay oriented, yes?) At the junction I turned right, skated past the spring-that-never-freezes on up to the top. The cloud I was under had stopped dropping snow and I was rewarded with a great view of Bonaparte, shining white in spots of sunlight. Coming down over a flawless platform with perfect snow was a joy. Reaching the 150 I moved toward blue sky and caught glimpses of the Cascades. I was headed in, but then saw that Rangers Loop was groomed and those big Ponderosas are so inviting, so I took the chance to go around and was startled by how close the mountains had moved toward me since the last glimpses I caught of them; what a stunning view. And too, I could verify that neither Goshawk nor Rangers Run were groomed down to the lower trails.
Back on the route to the parking lot I stopped and chatted with a couple of skiers, both marveling at how good the snow is in this week so close to March. What a gift!
February 22, 2017: Skiers, I was gone for a week and Jack and I got our wires crossed (or perhaps our Wi-Fis dispersed?) as to how to communicate. Anyway, many of you know that the road is in excellent shape, there is new snow, and the hours of daylight grow long.
Jack groomed Whitetail, Windsong and Pomme du Pin this morning. The track was superb, even with the universal klister I had spread on my skis last week, and the skating lane looked fantastic. I went up Windsong, with the trees holding more and more snow as I climbed. The sky was open blue with a few light clouds powdered over it, and when I looked up to catch what tiny bird had made a flitting shadow on the snow, I watched the air sparkle with crystals drifting down from the trees. I saw this again in the draw at the top. While I couldn't feel a breath of wind, the hanging lichens swayed gently and the tiny diamonds rained down.
That fantastic skating lane made the descent wonderful, and I caught glimpses of puffy clouds building over Sitzmark and blending Baldy into the horizon. It is lovely. Come ski!
February 13, 2017: Skiers, it's another blue sky day in the Highlands. The trees on lower Windsong have shaken off their snow and stand warming their limbs in bright sunshine. I warmed mine too in a perfectly set track, and for the first time this season I used klister (blue special) and it worked nicely. The skating lane is firm and forgiving, and even if the sun's angle is moving us towards spring, the snow remains delightful. While I didn’t explore the east side of the park today, I could see that the lower meadows are in great shape, waiting for skiers to sparkle with them, and the road is fine. Come ski!
February 11, 2017: Skiers, warm sunshine - cold snow! I'm off to another obligation so I can't do this morning's ski justice. Leave it that the west side is groomed, skating is fabulous, the track looks good, the meadows are studded with diamonds and the road is passable. Don't forget tonight’s full moon ski event. Come ski!
February 12, 2017: Lost and found<./b> Thank you to Sarah. Anyone lose them? Patti I found a nice pair of sunglasses, almost completely covered and frozen into the roadside berm near lower parking lot. They were undamaged! They are SunShield , wrap around, "over glasses" style. I hung them on the sign-in board at the upper parking lot. Sarah K
February 7, 2017: Skiers, is'’t this new snow amazing? How lucky can we be? And, our groomers have been busy. I went up the inner Antoine on a nice track. The grooming didn't continue up to the top so I followed the skating lane to Aava's Draw. The track was gone, and I heeded the advice of a friend who told me I should stop blaming my skis and learn how to move outside it. That was fun, though I was happy to see the machine set grooves at the top of the Draw.
It was a day that the clouds ruled, hiding the sun but letting some blue show itself to the east. At the top of Aava's Draw, the rulers let the sun come out and it lit up the larch trees as if they were strung with tiny bright stars. The snow laden firs shyly sparkled along with them, and I skied through a gilded winter land, then glided down the track on the main Antoine. I had planned to go down Ranger's Run, but the groomer hadn't made it there yet, and there were four or five inches of new snow, so I turned around and went down Goshawk. It was perfectly groomed with a newly set track, though I couldn’t think of getting into it until the run out on Bobcat where I could ease out of my snowplow. Bobcat moved into Ida's Ford and across the road, then the grooming ran out altogether. I let my skis find the old track, astounded at how much snow has fallen since just two days ago when I was on the same trail. All the annoying twiglets are covered over except for that one broom of a baby pine tree in the middle of the track, and the entire meadow is beautifully blanketed. I stopped at the junction of Hej Bue and looked back to find Sitzmark and the surrounding knobs blending into the shadows of the clouds, and just then it began to snow again. Sunshine Loop hadn't been groomed so I continued up Hej Bue to Whitetail. It had one pass raked out and I headed to the parking lot. Jack was there. He’d been working all morning, yet I sensed an ulterior motive as to why he had skipped Ranger’s Run. He was waxing his touring skis and planning a run down in the powder! Come ski!
February 5, 2027: Just in case we’re not quite having enough winter fun, see the message from Scott!:
Hi Patti, can you let everyone know there will be a group moonlight ski next Saturday at 7 pm? We will meet at the junction of the shared use road and the 150 road where the big burn piles are. The last few times we have done this there has been a fire to stand by and visit. No real program, just an excuse to see the trails in moonlight. Hope people can make it. Scott
February 1, 2017: Skiers, we slipped out of January under the brightest of winter suns. I skated up the Groomed SnoMobile Road over a nicely set platform. There were even snowmobiles on it, staying politely to their side of the trail as they went by. The sun shone through trees still wrapped in frost, and the snow dissected each photon and turned it into a million silver sparkles. The wispy cloud around the sun did the same, dressing itself in pink, green, aqua and salmon.
Turning up the Connector I saw that the Inner Antoine was groomed, and though the new grooming didn't go farther up, I did, and found conditions just fine. Going across the top was fun, though the skate lane diminished first to one lane, and then to one snowmobile track. That part didn’t last too long, and it was worth it to see the Cascades rolled out, with Baldy looming and Sitzmark and her sisters in the forefront. Then there was Bonaparte, who, judging by the lack of white in the trees, must have been above the fog all last week. Starting down the dips, the one cloud in the sky dissipated and dropped all its color onto the snow, like a three year old shaking the glitter bottle empty. The new grooming picked up again at Aava's Draw, and the skating was fast and wonderful all the way back to where I started. What a day!
P.S. via Jack:
All trails now open!
Lost & Found-Washington State License Plate # ATK0436 @ the upper parking lot.
January 29, 2017: Skiers, we drove up into an icy cloud today to ski. Jack and Al had been grooming all morning, and everything has been combed out. I lost track a bit of which trails did or didn't have the classic track set yet; I believe yes on Aava's Draw and no on the inner Antoine. We went the other way where the tracks were perfect. The decent from Pomme du Pin to Sunshine Loop was well covered and not at all icy. As the trail flattened and entered the meadows, there was so much fog it felt like skiing in an eternity of nothingness. Our only sense of motion came from feeling the air going by. Even the bright colors in the clothes of other skiers were pulled away, turning people into moving shadows. We wedged down Hej Bue, feeling lost once more in the mist with nothing to do but let Straight Edge circle us around, and climbed up to Whitetail, glad to generate a little heat after all the down hill and frozen air.
The fog didn't slow anyone down. On the way out, we saw that every parking area was full, and as always, everyone was smiling. What a way to spend a winter Sunday. Come ski!
January 27, 2017: Skiers, the snow and the sky were the same color today, one blending into the other, and the trees, each branchlet and needle wrapped in frost, were the same color as well. The old man's beard lichen hung suspended, as if wrapped in webs, and in this lovely landscape I chatted with my neighbor about how cold it felt in the icy air, and began my ski on the Groomed SnoMobile Road. It didn’t take long to warm up. At the junction, I could see Jack had made a single pass coming down, but the track on the 150 was excellent so I went that way. I saw our groomer before I got to Goshawk, and he told me he had gone all the way to the top. Up I climbed. The Toko violet was that had been a little sticky earlier in the week worked perfectly today, and it was fun to be in a well set track. Somehow, over my own heavy breathing, I could hear chickadees, and I stopped at the junction with the inner Antoine (as yet ungroomed) and watched a dozen or so of them fly across the trail. Though I know they landed in the trees next to me, I couldn't find a single one on its perch.
At the top there were no mountain views, just sky and snow and frost. At first I thought Jack had gone across and that I could follow suit. He had gone, but just to pack the trail, and I thought I'd have more fun if I stayed with the grooming, so I kick turned around and slipped down the dips on perfect snow. Goshawk was also groomed and I went down. The snow here was faster and I stopped once to let my hips unkink from the deep snowplow I was obliged to use. The track, once I was able to go slow enough to be in it, was excellent. Jack had even made the road crossing easy, and I skied around Straight Edge and up Hej Bue. A few twigs and baby trees are still emerging through the snow, and if I could remember from one day to the next, 10 minutes with clippers I could carry in my pocket would knock them back.
Sometimes there is nothing sweeter than approaching the parking lot on our well used, gentle Whitetail. How lucky we are. Come ski!
January 25, 2017: Skiers, I woke this morning thinking about Antoine and began skating under yet another mottled sky. When I reached the first junction and saw the Groomed Sno Mobile Road wasn't yet living up to its name, I went out the 150 again. Skating remained lovely and I enjoyed the long, solid glides that come with a firm platform and temperatures in the 20's. I didn't want to let the grooming get away from me so I turned around at Goshawk and skied back to the parking lot. To my delight, the entire west side of the park is newly set, both with tracks and a skating lane. I saw Jack, and he says tomorrow he'll take care of Ida's Ford, Bobcat and Goshawk, and maybe Aava's Draw. This weekend and early in the week, Al and Todd will join him to help. Things should be in great shape. I went up Windsong, catching views of Brown and State School Mountains, and Sitzmark, bright white against a steely sky. Looking far away, Baldy wore the same bright white cap. The snow in front of me was a softer hue, broken by the trees laden with the same. I made my way up in absolute stillness, and at the top turned around and glided down forever, giving away all the heat I had generated as I moved through the cold air. On Whitetail, I skied through the twiggy top of a big alder that bent low over the trail, and marveled at how tenaciously clusters of dead larch needles clung to gnarled old branches of a twisted tree. It's so great to be out. Come ski!
PS. Next Saturday, Sitzmark is hosting another Hok Festival. We went last year and learned a lot about yet another way to move over snow. This is the information from Sitzmark's Website: Next Saturday January 28th we are hosting the 2nd annual Hok festival. There will be demos all day for HOK and KOM skis. It will run from 10-3. There will be sizes for all ages. The link is www.altaiskis.com/blog.
January 24, 2017: Skiers, after a wonderfully uneventful drive to the Park on a newly plowed road, we found new grooming on Whitetail and the 150 yesterday. The temperature hovered at freezing, and I was sticking slightly on my Toko violet wax. George was having the same experience with his patterned skis. Still, the track was beautifully laid out and we followed it until it ended at the junction with Goshawk. The clouds were layered, and occasionally unveiled spots of blue, but never pulled apart enough to show the sun how much snow they had made over the last week. We were surprised by how much snow had fallen just since Saturday when we had last skied Goshawk. We could barely find the track Jack had made at the start of the weekend, and our skate marks had disappeared completely. It was lovely though, and we came easily down the hill and on to Bobcat and Ida's Ford, noticing by the patterns left behind how the deer are dragging their hooves as the snow deepens. We sidestepped down and up the snowplow berm and saw the tiny tracks of owl food crossing Straight Edge, then huffed our way up Hej Bue and back to the new grooming on Whitetail.
The weather people tell us that temperatures are dropping a bit and there won't be any new snow this week. That will let our skis glide and give our groomers a chance to catch up so we can all . . . Come ski!
January 22, 2017: Skiers, I just heard that the road was plowed this morning. Now you can. . . Come ski!
January 20, 2017: Skiers, the morning's blue sky enticed me out. Jack has groomed Straight Edge and Sunshine Loop, and the skiing should be excellent. I didn't try it out though. Half way between the meadow edge and the parking lot I got royally stuck in the heavy, wet snow. My two guardian angels (in the guise of Jack and Michael) managed move the car a ways down the road, but not, alas, out of the ditch. George is on his way to the rescue with his Big Truck, and I'm not blocking the way if you too have a big truck and want to get to the park, but for the first time since I started these emails, I'm advising you to wait until the road is plowed (and I'll let you know as soon as I hear) before you. . . Come ski!
January 18, 2017: Skiers, once again new snow graces the Highlands, and once again Jack had already groomed Whitetail and Windsong by the time I got to the park mid-morning. Whitetail's classic tracks were brand new and wonderfully firm with good, solid pole plants. Enough time had passed since the Windsong grooming that new snow had filled in the corduroy and sifted into track, and it was wonderful just the same. I stopped just below where the Telemark Trail comes out to remove a layer of clothing and was surprised to smell a skunk trail. I didn’t see any prints, but farther up I noticed tracks on the other side of the skate lane and was just going to try to puzzle them out when I looked up and saw a coyote loping around the next turn. I didn't see the animal again, but its tracks stayed on the trail for quite a ways, at one point coming over to my side where I saw that it had marked my set ski track, and then traveled up it, as if to mock me and my ill equipped and ungainly venture into its home territory. Eventually it went off to the side, and the only other disturbance in the snow was from Jack's boots as he stopped to make an adjustment, change weights, realign the sled or perform one of the other myriad tasks he knows how to do to keep our trails in such excellent shape.
On I climbed in the still falling snow, watching how the tiny needles and twiglets managed to hold snow all the way around themselves while the larger brooms and boughs bent low under their white mantles. I turned around at the top, expecting the snow to be slow going down but it wasn't at all. The new inch or two on the well-packed skate platform made the descent really fun. I stopped to put that wind breaking layer back on, and a chickadee rasped out a winter call, alerting its neighbors that I was no threat what so ever.
I went up Windsong in the best track ever and smelled skunk again as I climbed out of the creek bottom. All these elusive creatures are living in the winter woods, and we just get to glide by. Come ski!
January 17, 2017: Skiers, Iforgot to mention that as we veer onto private land, there will be no trespassing signs. Rest assured that these are left over from last season, and we have permission from our landowners to groom and ski our trails.
January 16, 2017: Skiers, the newest surprise at Highlands is that Jack has groomed the lower meadows. I approached them from Pomme du Pin, skating on a newly groomed Whitetail and a less newly groomed Pomme (still absolutely fine) down to Sunshine Loop. Here the trail remained great, and the sky greeted me with multiple shades of grey that were reflected opaquely on the meadow's snow. On I went, down Hej Bue to Straight Edge. Jack had warned me that it wouldn't be very good. Still, though I worked around autumn's twigs poking through lower Hej Bue, and a few grasses on Straight Edge, it was a wonderful first grooming. I crossed the road and skied Ida's Ford. Here the snow was softer and I thought I'd lost the classic track altogether. It came back after I crossed the creek, and though the snow remained soft I skated happily over Bobcat, stopping occasionally to admire the view (and rest) when my skis caught in the fluff in the middle of the trail, something that will go away with the next grooming. Goshawk was smoother and gave me no such excuse. I climbed to the 150, took some long resting breaths, and skied down to Aava's Draw. It was in good shape so I went up, getting so warm (finally) that I stopped to switch from mittens to gloves, and to take a drink of water. As I climbed, the sun burned a misty blue halo around itself and shown like a daytime moon. The rest of the sky tried to burn the clouds away too, but there wasn't enough energy to do anything but give me the barest glimpse of blue.
Coming down the inner Antoine I ran into neighbors coming up. We chatted about how wonderful it was to be out in such a place on a Holiday Monday morning, and about how we're looking forward to the new snow that is rumored to be coming. The 150 was newly groomed so I took a little longer to enjoy it, and found a cheerful three year old making her way down the trail with her dog and her Mom. What could be more inspiring? Come ski!
January 15, 2017: Skiers, in the afternoon overcast we slipped across the road and into the tracks to begin the outer Antoine Loop. The SnoMobile Road was impeccably groomed, and though the weather has warmed a bit, our waxes and patterns worked well (after some adjustment). At the Antoine Connector we stopped to catch our breaths. Our friend pointed out the big larch trees on the east side of the trail and we speculated on their story and why they have persisted. Then on up we went, catching sunspots as we climbed out of the cloud. The piece of trail across the top is better every time we ski it, and we have to thank our groomers for continuing to work on this difficult bit of the system. In spite of the sparkling snow, our mountain views remained occluded by deep gray, and heading down the dips we too were soon back under the cloud. Still, rounding the Loop we found a deeply bruised purple on the western horizon, the sky claiming our attention even through the gray, adding to the exhilaration inherent in our motion and the fresh air.
We weren't the only exhilarated souls out there. We ran into friends on their elegant wooden skis and a whole family of skaters, and the parking lot was still full when we returned. Enjoy this warmer weather, and. . . . .Come ski!
January 9, 2017: Skiers, the new snow is wonderful. It hangs in the branches and clings to the trunks of the leaning trees. It pillows over itself and blankets our trails. And when I got to the park this morning Jack had already set new classic tracks on Whitetail and Windsong, and made a perfect skating platform. I took full advantage, skating by the trees as they hung their limbs in the frozen mist and transpired with infinite slowness.
Luckily, the snow wasn't infinitely slow even though it had just been groomed. At the junction with Windsong I saw one of Betsy's lovely new signs naming the trail. I climbed to the end in total stillness, breathing in huge lungfuls of delicious cold air and expelling it after it had warmed, with no effect on the snow and cold whatsoever. At the top, the fog pulled itself up to a mottled sky and cleared a small band of blue to the west. I stopped to sip water and saw that the little clumps of snow caught in the alder branches had captured crystals from the frozen air and lined them up at right angles to their surfaces, a caught moment in the thousands of ways water manifests itself in the winter.
The surface was perfect for the decent, and my skis gently bumped over my own, solitary skate tracks. By the time I got to where the snow machines park, I couldn't bear to stop, so I turned around and went up Whitetail, this time skiing under the fog as I went down to the creek bed, then climbing back into it as I approached the top. Twista Vista remains ungroomed, but I ran into a friend who was on his way up to make a run down the Telemark trail, and I noticed that people have been skiing down Stinger. By the time I was heading in, Jack had made another pass on the groomer and erased my skate tracks. It is marvelous out there. Come ski!
January 7, 2017: Skiers, after a few days skiing elsewhere it was wonderful to back at Highlands this afternoon, where we have the best snow and the best grooming. We were delighted to see the inner Antoine Loop was newly set from the bottom. We clambered up the hill on our classic skis, hopping in and out of a reasonable track according to the steepness of the reach. At the junction with Aava's Draw, the grooming didn't continue up, so we jogged east. As we climbed the next leg of the inner Loop, the set track went from reasonable to excellent and it was so fun to take long strides across the top and down to the next junction. We sailed back on the 150, stepping out onto a perfectly smooth skate lane when the track was too fast. To the side of the trail, the lower branches and the smaller trees were still covered with snow, while the tops of the larch held their spiky naked branches akimbo, as if by tremendous effort they could escape from their frozen roots and march away. They stayed in place and we skied by, ducking under overhanging fir boughs as we stuck to the tracks.
Tonight there should be snow; tomorrow there almost certainly will be snow. Who knows what we’ll discover then, if only we all . . . Come ski!
January 3, 2017: Skiers, following the snow, the cold now blankets the park. In spite of single digit temperatures, we found newly set tracks and a beautifully groomed skating lane on Windsong and Whitetail this morning. The cold snow made our first skate strides feel like we were running over sandpaper, but somehow the skis released and our glides lengthened as we warmed up. Clouds occluded the overhead sky and deep, white snow draped the dark trees in infinite stillness. The only motion was from us, our faces pushing through the cold air, and George’s striped cap and red skis making two bright spots in the monochromatic landscape as he skated before me. To the west however, the sky was banded with aqua and the mountaintops were knife edged where the white met the blue. Part way up Windsong I had a minor equipment malfunction. Had it been 15° warmer I would have kept going but the cold made me think twice and we went back. Still, it was well worth it to be out in such magnificence. Come ski!
January 1, 2017: Skiers, snow is ringing in our New Year. It lies thickly on the trees, weighing them low. It fills the air, coats the trails and rims skiers and snowshoers with white. In spite of new snow, we started up the Groomed Snowmobile road in a newly set track, and at the junction with the 150 we found Jack turning around to make another pass for the skaters among us. They managed the hill with aplomb, and the track was excellent, with the wax gripping the cold snow perfectly, and the snow supporting the patterned skis as well, (though we did run into some folks who were obliged to use their maxi-glide).
We skied across the Connector to the end of the new grooming and rode the hill down, snow in our eyelashes, snow on our head bands, snow coating the fronts of our clothes. The rest of the outer Antoine and the 150 had not been newly groomed, but we easily followed the old track, and the snow was light enough for the skaters to power through.
It was great to see so many people having as much fun as we were, toddlers on skis, families on snowshoes, single skiers and groups alike spread across the park. It’s a winter wonderland. Come ski!
December 31, 2016: Skiers, see Al's note. We skied on Aava's Draw yesterday, and its great. Patti
From Al: Hi, Just wanted to give a heads up to the Antoine skiers. I groomed the inner trails today, but ran into trouble. The section that runs from the first junction to the bottom of the 130 road goes through a patch of very dense tree cover, where I found a mere 4” of snow. I unhooked the groomer and tried to pack things down with the snowmobile, but started churning up dirt. Realizing I had met my match, I turned around and went back. We’ll just have to wait for some more snow. The rest of the Antoine complex, including Aava's Draw, is all groomed with track set. Enjoy! Jack groomed the Sunshine Loop via the Hej Bue. He said it’s quite grassy down there, but hey, it’s groomed!! Al
December 29, 2016: Skiers, today the sky came all the way to ground to meet the snow with it's own white. Fortunately, the road into the park has been nicely plowed and I could tell where to drive through the meadow in spite of the fog. By lucky coincidence, my neighbor pulled in right behind me and I followed him in a well laid classic track around the outer Antoine Loop; a fine ski, he declared. It was a fine ski. As he made his usual (and enviable) speedy decent, I took the downhill more slowly, watching the skeletal trees emerge eerily from the mist at one turn, seeing that the wind and sun must never reach the snow draped forest around the next. None of the inner trails have been newly groomed but the outer is excellent for classic and skate, barring the short stretch of the Connector that still tilts this way and that.
Once at the junction I turned around and skied part way back, just because the track was so nice and because, for whatever reason, the pines look bigger in that direction. What ever reason you have to extend your time on snow just a little longer, take advantage and. . . Come ski!
December 28, 2016: Anyone interested in helping with the Grooming at the Highlands should call Jack Thurston at 486-0437 and schedule a grooming workshop in the next week or so. We should have enough snow to try grooming the lower meadow trails like Sunshine Loop and Straight Edge.
December 27, 2016: Skiers, we skated in the fog on Whitetail late this morning. A couple inches of snow lay over new grooming, the Ponderosa pines held the frost in bundles, and from somewhere a flicker called. Within moments there were sunspots in the shadows, and moving through them I could feel the warmth on my face. Before long the sun was rolling along the ridge, pulling blue sky with it, and we stopped for a moment at the junction with Pomme du Pin and Windsong to savor the change. By the time we got to the end of Whitetail, the clouds had had their way again and our winter's monochrome asserted itself once more. No matter, the other skiers' bright colors put light back into the day. Windsong was also groomed, but not Pomme du Pin. Everywhere though, the snow is cold and light, and somehow the season’s celebrations hang in the air. Come ski!
December 25, 2016: Skiers, to be able to take a few hours to ski is a Christmas gift indeed. There has been no new grooming, but as one of the glowing skiers we met at the park this morning said-“It’s still so fun!” And fun we had. There were four or five inches of new snow, and it was so cold and so light it was like skiing over a down comforter. Yesterday we were able to skate through it on the more recently groomed Whitetail and Pomme du Pin. This morning on classic skis, we followed a distance behind as skiers broke trail to find Windsong's tracks ahead of us. At the first hairpin turn, a chickadee caroled us from its cozy tree roost, and farther up something exploded out of the snow, presumably a grouse, though neither of us saw it. At the top we were impressed by the amount of snow the small spruce trees are holding, we are truly getting some depth. Then we turned and skied down our feather bed, keeping just warm enough.
The sunshine that began the morning was slowly blotted out by clouds by the time we were done, though a narrow band of pale sky still showed blue in the west. Perhaps those clouds will drop more snow, but even if they don't, the park is laden with winter white. Come ski!
December 23, 2016: Skiers, the snow keeps coming! Jack had just finished grooming Whitetail and Pomme du Pin when I pulled into the parking lot this morning. The skating lane looked perfect and the newly set track was excellent. Grey air was sifting snow and the trees were slowly lacing themselves with white as I made my way to the end of Whitetail. Jack had tried to take the snow mobile down Twista Vista again, but ran into a downed tree, so that trail remains ungroomed and I turned around. Somehow the snow always falls harder going downhill and I ducked my head to let my bangs shield my eyes on the steeper parts. Pomme du Pin called next and took me to the end of the grooming. Turning around at the bottom of Twista Vista, I snowplowed over my herringbone marks, the falling snow already filling in the spaces between the new corduroy. A raven sent down its applause for enjoying such a fine winter's day, and when I met Jack skiing we congratulated each other with the same words. And the snow keeps coming.
Jack will be taking a Christmas break and Al is intending to groom Christmas day. Jack will be taking a Christmas break and Al is intending to groom Christmas day. With all the celebrations of the season upon us, listen to the raven, enjoy these fine winter days and. . . Come ski!
December 21, 2016: Skiers, to make up for it's short appearance today, the sun cast the Highland's snow with diamonds as it dodged cloud and shadow. I found yet another beautifully groomed skate platform, and this morning I had the right equipment to enjoy it. It wouldn't have mattered what skis I had brought though. True to his word Jack had worked with the new snow and reset the classic track. I went up the Sno Mobile Road intending to skate up the inner Antoine. It wasn't newly groomed though, and it took all of three strides to realize I was going to have more fun if I stayed on the 150. And so I did, and found the skating excellent, fun in spades. Here and there the wind had blown the snow out of the trees, and it came up again as I headed toward the top, cooling me perfectly. I was climbing slowly enough to recognize the work we had done as a club before it snowed and it's made a difference; the trail looks great. At the spring-that-never-freezes (where I caught my breath, not for the first time) I marveled at how the water continues to pocket green plants when last week we had sub zero temperatures. Finishing the hill I turned to look at Bonaparte. The wind had flown over the top, baring the trees and evening the ridgelines. A little farther on, Baldy stood subdued, wearing the same colors as the sky she merged with.
The Antoine Connector is still a bit rough under these mountain views, but as I moved on it got better and better until I was able to sail through the woods. Coming down was delightful, the platform wide and smooth. Toward the bottom I met Jack, skiing in the track and enjoying his handiwork. He told me he'd started grooming Twista Vista, but it wasn't ready yet. Ah well, trail by trail there is lots to explore. Come ski!
December 19, 2016: Skiers, under a sky so overcast that the sun looked and felt like a coldly lit full moon, we found the classic tracks on the Groomed Sno-Mobile road and headed up. A touch of new snow let the wax grab, though I had to hop out to herringbone on the steep parts. George, on his patterned skis, found the newly groomed skate platform worked better for him. Part way up we met Jack coming down for a last pass. He said he'd set the track again as soon as it snowed, and we agreed it was looking like snow would come tonight as predicted. No sooner had we separated, the sun unveiled itself, exposing blue sky and casting sparkles over the white. It was a moment's tease before the ridge hid it all away again, but by the time we crossed the Antoine Connector (in much better shape than last time I skied it), and had our stellar Bonaparte view, the sun was out again in full force. What to wish for: the sun out in the luscious cold or the clouds coming in and dropping their precious snow. Luckily, it's all out of our control. What was in control was a beautiful downhill sail, and were pleased to see that the ice flood and rocks at the bottom are now safely under snow. At the junctions we saw that the leg of the Antoine Loop that connects to Aava's Draw, and Aava's Draw itself, sport newly groomed skate lanes, but we stayed on the 150 and had a beautiful ski back. Sun or snow, you can't go wrong. Come ski!
December 17, 2016:Skiers, yesterday's bright sunshine enticed us back to the sno park in the late morning. In spite of the cold, skating was relatively fast. We ventured onto the newly groomed Pomme du Pin, and had fun letting the trail wind us down easily, though we stopped a couple of times to chunk fist sized rocks off to the side. Toward the bottom some of the living elements refused to lie down passively and let the snow cover them, and while avoiding grass here and a rose stem there I caught a ski on a stubborn mullein stalk. Ah well, 'tis early. While the leg of Twista Vista heading down to Sunshine Loop is still closed, we followed the grooming up as far as Jack had gone, enjoying the open views that we miss when we ski our normal way, from the top down. Hands and faces warm, we went back the way we had come, those turns in the trail getting our attention as we huffed our way up. As I write this morning it’s beginning, at last, to snow. Our trails, already in great shape for as early as it is, are going to get even better. Come ski! December 15, 2016:Skiers, it's still cold in the Highlands but Whitetail warmed me up this morning well before I reached the end. The classic track is still nicely set, and the skate lane looked fine. The sky was pale blue and suffused with a thin layer of clouds, as if a pastel artist had smoothed her thumb over chalk, and from somewhat a few snowflakes drifted down. Twista Vista is not open yet so I skied back the way I had come and went up Windsong. Here the grooming is new and the track is excellent. All the way up there is plenty of snow cover. I stopped to sip some water and looked out to the hills above Havillah, quilted with tawny grass and soft patches of snow. Fog settled between ridges behind them, and the magnificent Baldy towered over all, it's white cap shining back to an invisible sun. Continuing on, I found that Jack has cleared away the fallen tree, and rumor has it he used a weed whacker on those stubborn spruce seedlings at the top. What ever he did, it made the skiing wonderful.
Coming down was wonderful too. The skate track is smooth and solid, and the extra heat I had generated in the climb kept me warm all the way down. Passing by the shelter I was surprised to see Pomme du Pin had been groomed (how did I miss that going up?). Here is one more enticement to.... Come ski!
December 13, 2016:Skiers, mid-morning yesterday I let half of a newly set skating track lead me up the Antoine. What grooming there was was good, and the skate skis glided well in the cold. Part way up I met Jack laying down the second pass, and the skiing got even better. At the first junction, the grooming on the Antoine Loop ended but Aava's Draw was open and I took it down to the 150. Though there were a few places where grass came through the snow, and a rough spot here and there, the trail was in surprisingly good shape. I made my way to the creek, then skated up the inner Antoine. Overhead, jet pilots were training, and as I climbed I remembered I had recently told a friend that skate skiing was as close as I'd ever get to flying. Well, not up this hill, and not compared to those pilots in their jets. Still, with the trees laden with snow, the trail freshly groomed, the air luxuriously cold, and myself perfectly warm with the climb, I couldn't imagine a better way to be moving. At the junction I retraced my steps, half my lone skate marks already covered by the new grooming.
This morning's full moon is radiant with cold and the cloudless sky portends a day of sunshine. Embrace the cold, dry snow and the blue-sky day that's on it's way. Come ski!
December 9, 2016: Skiers, Deciding that all of my ski muscles needed to be sore, I clipped into skate skis yesterday morning and began climbing up the shared snow mobile road. The grooming was a little rough, but I found purchase. At the junction with the 150, there was a perfectly set track going both ways, inspiration for the next classic ski. I continued up through the cold sunshine under a deep blue sky, the snow sparkling in the sun and the trees' fantastic shapes laid before me in the shadows. Clouds holding the forcasted snow were nowhere I could see. As I climbed, I found myself moving from one side of the road to the other, trying to find the smoothest line. We need more snow to make it perfect, but this gave me good excuses to stop and catch my breath. Toward the top, conditions were better, and as the trail flattened out I found my rhythm and remembered how fun skating can be.
The inner Antoine had not yet been groomed, and I was delighted to find that the Antoine Connector had been. It lost its track and became a bit like skating over a roller coaster toward the top, and I always marvel at how little snow there must be when I see kinnikinnick poking through, but I was rewarded with a stellar view of Bonaparte, standing high in the bright sun, completely dusted in white, with a wisp of cloud outlining the summit. The trail became smooth again and I enjoyed a lovely, controlled decent down the dips. The only true caution is for the spot where the creek crosses the trail. There is an ice flood there and a lot of exposed rock. Other wise, conditions were fine all the way around. I was surprised to see the lower end of the inner Antoine had been groomed, but didn’t explore how far it went. What a great start to the winter!
December 6, 2016:4” Snow @ Parking Lot, 8” on top. Temp 16 F. Some snow dripping off trees. Packed Whitetail & set track on Windsong. Skiers, With Jack's awaited words, our season begins. My neighbor picked me up and there we were for the first time this season, breathing in the cold with new snow filtering down, and hearing nothing but our own chatter, the sound of our skis and the occasional raven's comment. With one on classic and one on touring skis we clambered up a well packed and seemingly skateable Whitetail and found a nicely set track on Windsong. Waxing was deceptively tricky for as cold as it is; I slipped and my companion stuck, and we managed anyway, skiing up the trail, the emergent grasses disappearing as we climbed until it felt like deep winter with new white snow, flocked trees, and early afternoon dusk. The snow also became more cooperative as we went higher, and both of us were able to glide in the track after the last hair pin turn. Jack had stopped grooming just before the end, his way blocked by a large fallen tree. And here the touring skis, doing what they do best, climbed over the log to get to the top, and the classic skis, not good at deep snow groping, headed down the hill. Signing in I saw that Jack groomed the 150 today. Now we can go in two directions. Two reasons to wait no more and… Come ski!
November 7, 2016: Thanks to all who were able to work on trails yesterday.> I think we'll all notice a difference skiing the out Antione this year! And thanks for paying your dues. For those that couldn't make it, there was an unanimous decision at the meeting to raise the dues from $15.00/year (where it's been for over 30 years) to 20.00/year/family and 15/year/individual. For those who haven't paid, you can mail a check to me at: 599 N Siwash Creek Rd. Tonasket WA 98855 or pay on line at. http://www.highlandsnordicsnopark.com/membership.html
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.