When Don wrote to me and said his plans had changed, he’d be skiing Mt. St. Helens with his buddies on Sunday, instead of Saturday. My heart skipped a beat… with excitement. Task lists checked. I could join them!
This was just the trip to satisfy my desire for a ski day before departing the beloved Cascades for 5 months. Spend time with good friends and meet soon-to-be-friends. A day offering much needed fun and a lighthearted start to spring.
Over Friday afternoon and Saturday morning everything fell into place. Soon Don’s party of three was a gang of 11 + 2 (we observed wilderness guidelines, of course). The forecast was for sunshine, 40-degree temps along the rim, moderate avy conditions, and we’d be skiing gentle slopes. All a mix for a terrific outing.
Saturday night a group of us bunked in the cabins at Cougar RV Park.
The next morning we were at the Marble Mountain Sno-Park by 6:30 am to meet the rest of our party coming from Portland. Not surprisingly, the parking lot was filled with other skiers, snowboarders and snowshoers who were all excited to enjoy the slopes of St. Helens on a sunny day and the first weekend of spring.
At last we shouldered our ski-laden packs and hiked a mile of dirt trail to get to skinnable snow.
After 6.5 hours of hiking, skinning and booting up we made it to the top. When I got to the rim, Don was pulling out the sparkling wine! He had three bottles to share with the group. The other bottle in the 4-pack had been on a different celebratory trip. It meant so much to me that we were enjoying the other bottles and commemorating great friends and great times in the mountains. Thanks Don! And thanks Hudson for carrying up a bottle (unknowingly!). What a treat!
My first trip up St. Helens was in 2009 when I was a beginning skier (on telemark skis that are still too big for me). The first 1,000 feet down had been terrifying and mostly a disaster. I crashed with most of my “turns”. Scared that I would end up a broken pile at the base of the mountain-and unable to run a marathon a few days later-I ended up taking off my skis, and booting down to Gabriel in tears. (Poor Gabriel.) I didn’t put my skis back on until the lower slopes. Embarrassed, scared and frustrated. I vowed I’d become a better skier… skiing takes practice. So I practiced and planned to come back to St. Helens to measure my improvement some day. Flash forward five years to today…
This time around the skiing was very different. I kept looking for the “steep” slopes that had terrified me five years prior. But they weren’t there. Instead, the skiing was easy. Fun. And I was wishing the slopes would never end. It was an ideal start to spring and spring touring season! Hopefully in the next few weeks conditions will align for one more tour before I head out for the CDT.
We were back at the cars by late afternoon. Where we partook in a little apres-ski happy hour in the warm sun.
Thanks Don for the invite. And thanks to Don, Brett, Carla, Anita, Tom, Matt, Dave, Dave, Hudson, Stacey and friends for a terrific outing.
It was a beautiful day in the mountains.