Winchester

First turns of the year! Aditya and I decided to try to make it to the Winchester fire lookout, up by Mt Baker. Originally the plan was the stay the night, but we both had birthday parties to go to Saturday evening.

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I got up at 5:15am to take my housemate to the airport, came home, packed the car, and left Seattle at 7, and got skinning at 11. Those four hours of travel time included the time it took to 1) buy a sandwich 2) put on chains 3) dig the car out of snowbank. While putting on chains, we were passed by a convoy of 12 jeeps, which put me in a moral quandary: 

  1. The jeeps are loud and disturb the peaceful experience I was hoping for
  2. I want to respect others’ choice of recreation
  3. One had a bumper sticker staying “Yeah, I’m killing the ozone!” (that’s a different environmental problem, but whatever)
  4. Me driving a normal car up here pollutes too
  5. Another had a search and rescue sticker, so I’ve gotta respect that, if one of them ends up saving my ass someday
  6. The jeeps seem like seem like so much of a better winter travel vehicle than my old Camry. I almost wanted to ask them for a ride up the road to Twin Lakes.

Anyhow, I started skinning and Aditya snowshoeing at milepost 4. Around milepost 5, we passed a fellow skier in a stuck Subaru, but he seemed confident he could dig his car out. We kept skinning and walking, and right before we got to Twin Lakes, we passed the convoy of Jeeps! With their loud engines, gigantic knobby tires, and slasher attitude, they were spinning their wheels into the snow, moving at a stop and go pace, and having a blast. We had lunch at the lakes at 1pm as the jeeps pulled in.

It was my first time to the area, and I was amazed at the beautiful skiable lines everywhere I looked. Definitely worth a return trip! Snow conditions were better than expected–still powdery in the shade, a little crusty in the sun, and a good 3 feet or so deep.

We started skiing up the the south side of Twin Lakes. As we were walking, the noise of the jeeps driving around the snow-covered parking lot rumbled in the background. I don’t think many of them even bothered to get out of the jeeps once they arrived, I guess the fun for them was in the drive itself, not the beautiful surroundings.

We made up to 5800 feet at 2:45pm, 700 feet below the lookout before the setting sun and snowshoe malfunctions forced us to turn back, and got back to the car at 4:30, just as the sun set. Aditya had lost a glove on the way up around MP 4.5, but we didn’t see it on the way down. It’s probably buried under twelve treadprints, waiting until next July to surface again…

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