Snowshoers on the trail

Snowshoers on the trail

This weekend was the annual Team Survivor Northwest Snowshoe Event at Snoqualmie Pass in the Cascades, and it was my one day to play in the snow this winter.  (Although winter is not yet over, and March can hold some surprises.  My mother always used to say of March, “In like a lamb, out like a lion.”  And this year in Seattle, March 1st was a mild day.  So it is always possible that we might get a snow storm yet this month!)

I, of course, wanted it to be actually snowing, but the temperature was too high.  We were fortunate that the rain held off while we were in the mountains.  (Back in Seattle, it was a very rainy day.)  The light was flat and gray, and the magnificent tall trees along the trail were cloaked in darkness.  The colorful jackets of the cross-country skiers and showshoers along the trail contrasted sharply with the dim, cloudy surroundings.  It was still and quiet though at times we could hear the hum of the distant freeway traffic.

There was something almost gloomy about the still forest in the muted light.  Along parts of the trail, trees were moss-laden or furred with lichen.  I came to play, but this wasn’t a playful landscape on this day.

“Many trees are soulful.  These are trees that are old enough and large enough to shelter us.  These are the ones that draw a stillness in us.”
— Jean Shinoda Bolen, Like a Tree:  How Trees, Women, and Tree People Can Save the Planet

“And there never yet has been a nature writer who, confronted with primitive forest, has not resorted to the vocabulary of architecture.  Indeed, since it has been impossible to visualize or verbalize nature in terms free of cultural association, the woodland interior has been habitually conceived of as a living space, a vaulted chamber . . . curved and bent boughs and branches suggesting arched portals to some grandiose vaulted hall.”
— Simon Schama, Landscape and Memory

Lichen-covered trunks of tall trees along the Cold Creek Trail

Lichen-covered trunks of tall trees along the Cold Creek Trail

Moss-laden trees along the trail

Moss-laden trees along the trail

Piece of fallen moss on snow

Piece of fallen moss on snow

Lichen-covered branches

Lichen-covered branches

Fallen lichen on snow

Fallen lichen on snow

Lichen on a cracked boulder

Lichen on a cracked boulder

My eyes were drawn to the branching patterns on the tall evergreen trees.  They seemed quite fern-like.

Layers of branches in a cascade down the trunk of s tree

Layers of branches in a cascade down the trunk of s tree

Branching patterns

Branching patterns

Branches like ferns

Branches like ferns

Fern revealed under melting snowbank

Fern revealed under melting snowbank

I was startled to see blue — almost a tropical blue — in the shadows of the snow along the trail.  Where did this blue come from?  There was no sunshine to reflect and refract the light on snow.  It was as if the snow held its own glowing lantern.  Miraculous!

Glow of blue shadows on snow

Glow of blue shadows on snow

Pleated snowbank

Pleated snowbank

Something restful about the soft curves of these snowbanks

Something restful about the soft curves of these snowbanks

Slush in a creek

Slush in a creek

Cold Creek Trail at Snoqualmie Pass in the Cascade Mountains

Cold Creek Trail at Snoqualmie Pass in the Cascade Mountains

TSNW group on the Cold Creek trail

Yesterday was the Team Survivor NW (TSNW) annual snowshoe event at Snoqualmie Pass in the Cascade Mountains, about 1-1/2 hours from Seattle.  It was so much fun to play in the snow, which was deep this year.  The beautifully groomed trail passed through snow-laden trees.  The snow kept falling in clumps as the day warmed up.  Here are some photos from the day:

Outfitted in my snowshoes; ready to roll.

The trail started at Hyak Ski area, a popular spot for downhill skiers.

Cross country skiers shared the Cold Creek trail with those of us on snowshoes.

Moss hung on the trees like green icicles.

The TSNW group looked like a human caterpillar following our guide, Sharon, in single file along the trail.

It was an overcast day, but occasionally a patch of sunlight illuminated the surrounding mountains.

Pinecones

Buds holding the promise of spring.

Heading into the home stretch

Just as we were ready to depart, the skies showed a few patches of blue.

A Taste of Winter

March 1, 2010

Break in the clouds reveals snow-covered peak near Snoqualmie Pass

View from the Cold Creek Trail, Snoqualmie Nordic Center

I took an opportunity to play in the snow this weekend, so I finally got a taste of winter.  Saturday was Team Survivor Northwest’s annual Snowshoe Event at Snoqualmie Pass.  There is still snow in the mountains just one hour from Seattle.  I am afraid of driving in the mountains in winter — don’t want to cope with icy roads and tire chains.  As a result, I am missing out on so much of this region’s natural playground.  TSNW provided a bus for this outing, and I am so glad I rearranged my work schedule so that I could participate.

We snowshoed along the groomed Cold Creek trail surrounded by an evergreen forest.  The sun and clouds played peek-a-boo amongst the surrounding peaks.  I got a real workout, snowshoeing about one hour up the trail, with a short lunch break, and then a one hour return.  I loved being outside in such a magnificent setting!

TSNW snowshoer along the Cold Creek trail

Trail blazer leads the group through the towering evergreen forest

Trail blazer leads the group through the towering evergreen forest

We shared the trail with cross country skiers

Cross country skiers pause to chat on the trail