Mrs. Grumps Gets Some Snow

Kyle learned the hard way this weekend what happens when I start to feel too cooped up. It’s not like we haven’t been getting outside, we have been running a lot, at Discovery Park and around Green Lake. We were out at Mount Si a couple of weekends ago, doing a training hike in the pouring rain, and over the holiday break we got up into Capitol Forest for a long trail run. But driving to work every day I have been watching the mountains go from lightly dusted with snow to white and winsome. As the snow has been building in the mountains my heart has been growing restless, yearning for swirling flakes and a trail, cutting through the woods.

We planned on getting up to the mountains on Saturday, but after a long week of running and stairs and social engagements Friday night hit and neither of us were really feeling like a super early Saturday morning adventure. So we decided to substitute a run and head to bed early Saturday night, saving our adventure for Sunday. This seemed like a good idea, and we had a lovely day, punctuated by waves of sour grumpy testy Lindsey moods. Kyle kept looking at me, exclaiming, “what is going on with you?” Honestly it was killing me to be in the city for one more day when there was fresh snow in the mountains that we could be enjoying. It hadn’t helped that we had woken up to sun breaks and swirling clouds, a relatively nice day for western Washington winters. To help assuage my restlessness we packed our packs and chose a hike over ramen bowls: Kendall Peak Lakes Trail. We set our alarms for early Sunday morning.

The alarms went off and we checked the weather. A winter storm warning was in effect for the Western Cascades (which we had to drive through to get to our trailhead). Rain slammed against our window. We were both a little unsure about what that really meant, about how seriously we should take the advisory, but I felt pretty enraged inside. Of course! We had put things off and missed our good weather window and now it was all ruined. I stomped around until Kyle suggested we try to salvage the day by driving to Mount Teneriffe (a little lower in elevation) and getting a training hike in. I huffed my agreement and sadly left the snowshoes behind as I packed my gear into the truck. We headed to the gas station, to fill up before hitting the interstate, where we ran into Larry, Kyle’s superintendent at work. He was headed up to a spot near Snoqualmie Pass to go touring. No sooner had Kyle gotten back in the car than I suggested we head back and grab our snow shoes. Couldn’t hurt to have them! We could assess the road conditions on our way up.

We went zooming past the Mount Teneriffe exit, heading up higher towards the pass. Why did we upgrade to a Toyota Tacoma if we weren’t going to use it? A few miles out from the pass the road became to slick with snow and ice and a line of cars and semis was pulled off to the side, putting on chains. The Tacoma seemed to be enjoying itself, as it cruised through the slush, chugging past the summit, and following a snow plow off our exit ramp (great timing). We pulled into a parking lot, deep with snow and mud, and high-fived. We had made it and we weren’t even the only people at the trail head. Right as we got there a meet-up group was starting up the trail. Kyle knew their trip leader from his meet-up days. We tried to get ready as quickly as we could, before the sideways wind could blow too many snow flakes into the truck.

The trail head was a little farther up the road and we were immediately glad we had brought our snow shoes. Although, not as glad as we were when we caught up with the meet-up group, an hour or so later. That was when we discovered that they had been breaking trail for us, making a nice compacted ditch, which was only getting deeper as we went higher. They were excited to see us, because only a few people out of the group seemed capable of shuffling through the knee deep snow in the front and their pace had slowed considerable. We were ushered to the front where we plowed ahead, feeling our hip flexors burn as we lifted pounds of snow up with every step. We rotated out of the front with a couple of other hikers in their group, but getting ahead of them was both impossible and incomprehensible. We needed them as badly as they needed us. The snow got deeper and deeper, soon it was up to my waist and breaking trail was extremely exhausting. I could feel myself quickly running out of fuel.

Right in the nick of time we pressed into a beautiful open flat area which marked a crossroads for the trail. In one direction was a trail leading to an outlook (the clouds were a little too thick for views) and continuing on would eventually lead you to a side trail that led to the lakes. We stopped for a break with our adopted group, who shared their summit snacks with us and the trip leader, Mark, explained that without prior experience on this trail finding the side trail up to the lakes would be basically impossible. One of the beautiful things about Kyle and mine’s relationship is we are almost always on the same page. We looked at each other and with a nod agreed that heading back down was completely fine. The hike had been lovely and utterly exhausting.

On the way down we eyed the people coming up our trough of a trail with envy, their lives were so much easier than ours had been a couple of hours earlier. But in the end we had gotten in a great workout, met some new people, and soaked in the occasional sun beam and the constant snow flakes. We had also learned a valuable lesson, sometimes arriving a little later to the trailhead means someone else breaks your trail for you. We will be keeping this in mind as the season goes on.

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As Edward Abbey said, "An indoor life is the next best thing to a premature burial."

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