Snow Hike!

I finally — finally! — went on my first hike in the Pacific Northwest (excluding trekking around more urban areas).*

This goes a long way toward indicating how stressed I’ve been. One of the whole reasons I moved to Seattle in the first place was so I could go hiking, and yet it’s taken me a year to decide I could actually spare the time to go. And it’s not so much that I spared the time as that I looked at my to-do list and said, “Fuck it, it can wait.”

I was going with a few other people, and we’d commented, all smiles, that wouldn’t it be lovely if there were still snow on the ground? And none of us took this thought to its logical extension, which is that if there is snow on the ground, it might, you know, snow.

Before I could even get to the pass, traffic shut down. I was parked on the highway for about half an hour, hemmed in by cars on either side, with no idea what the hold-up was. Of course, because of the weather, my internet was basically nonfunctional, and I couldn’t get in touch with any of my fellow intrepid hikers.

But I did finally get off the highway, the snow was still pretty bearable, and GPS told me I was pretty close, so I kept following it, not realizing I was about to be going up windy roads on a mountain.

I’ve never driven in snow. (Grew up in California, didn’t drive in any of the other places I’ve lived.) Well, I have now, but may I just say that driving in snow with a mountain on one side of you and a cliff on the other is not how I’d recommend starting out?

I would also like to say that my car and I have had our issues, but I have newfound fondness for it and its four-wheel drive. Or I would probably be dead. There was much skidding and snowbanks with a hefty side of panic.

There were also some morons who were letting their dog run around the road. I veered into a snowbank to avoid hitting it when it darted in front of me, and one of the guys comes over and is like, “Oh, do you need help? It looks like you can get out okay.” To which I responded (somewhat more tactfully than this), “If I accelerate right now, I’m going to go straight into your car. Also, I’m afraid of hitting your dog.” And the two guys move their cars out of my way, and I say, “Okay, I’m going to try to get going again, could you hold your dog for a minute please?” And they’re all, oh, sure, of course, yeah. So I start, AND THEY DON’T HOLD ONTO THE DOG. The dog and I are both alive out of sheer luck, and their carelessness infuriates me.

Anyway. I get to the top eventually, and later my compatriots arrive and convince me I won’t die on the way back, and they’re correct: by the time we left it had started raining, it was warm enough that the snow had become slushy but not yet frozen, and it was far easier to go down the mountain than it had been to go up it. Except for the bit where I almost couldn’t turn my ignition because I did not have sufficient gloves and my fingers were too cold to move properly.

Aside from the snow driving and the gloves (you know, just the minor issues…), I was actually pretty well-prepared. I’d located my snow hiking boots, packed sufficient hydrating beverages and protein-heavy food, and layered appropriately.

The hike itself was super easy. I was worried I’d be too out of hiking shape, but either dance classes or regularly trekking the far steeper hills downtown kept me from even being sore. Sleepy afterwards, but my body was still energetic enough to head to tap class later. 

And, of course, the hike itself was gorgeous. I suck at pictures, and my fingers were freezing, but these are the couple I have:

frozen stream Talapus Lake

Now that I have some idea how this snow thing works, there will be more hiking in my future.


*(A couple of weeks ago, now, but I felt a little weird posting about my snowy misadventure now that it’s past tense, given recent climate extremes across the continent…)


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