Late powder-flu season

Back in January, there was enough vegetation poking through the boot-cuff base at Hayak to dub our morning skin laps Lawn Patrol. The temperature hovered a few degrees above freezing, the worst, as snow devolved into rain and one’s aging Gore-Tex layers, miserably hydrophilic, grew heavy and wet. Cascade concrete with exposed aggregate, the stuff of dreams.

Fast forward to mid-February. Old Man Winter must have performed an act of contrition after scorning Mother Nature. The Pacific Northwest’s driest ski season in recent memory saw an epic storm cycle delivering much wanted (and needed) snow to the Cascades. Finally, winter hung in the boughs of spruce and fir. Winter lay on the roads strewn with broken cable chains. Winter of our discontent, no more.

Skiers and boarders, like Dust Bowl farmers after a rain, felt bright and hopeful. The Tuesday after Presidents’ Day, Barb Buys, Heather Mirczak and I skied sinfully good conditions with scant lift-queue downtime at Stevens Pass. Finally, powder to feed my porky boards. We stayed inbounds, a decision dictated by common snow sense and confirmed by the high avy rating at all elevations. The week before, a father and son triggered an avalanche in the Stevens sidecountry near Big Chief.

(For the full accident report, go to http://www.nwac.us/media/filer_public/cf/54/cf542224-a61d-4d58-be7f-b9875f3b3171/stevens_pass_avalanche_accident_2-11-14.pdf)

Last Friday (Feb. 21), HM, her pal and former student Brianna Hartzell and I skied swing shift, starting a little past 1300 hours and clocking out around 2000 hours. It turned out to be a happy, hyper-social shift as we (primarily HM) came across familiar faces: Jenny Rice, Jenny Conrad and her husband Pat, and Carla Schauble. Seventh Heaven had the best snow. But I’ve a sixth sense that skiers, wherever they were in Washington, found seventh heaven.

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High tea with Jenny, Brianna and HM.

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