A spring ski day

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.

Our cabin at the Cougar RV Park.
P1000742Stained glass panels illuminate the walk to the washroom.
P1000745Carla is happy to be in the “warm” cabin and excited for our ski day!

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.


Getting our skis and packs ready. Carla is staying warm with some pre-ski exercises.

At last we shouldered our ski-laden packs and hiked a mile of dirt trail to get to skinnable snow.


Brett and Dave hike on. We weren’t fooled by this patch of snow that accumulated in a gap in the forest canopy. Also, note: Dave’s fine tele boots!
P1000759Tom is happy. This happens sometimes. Behind Tom,  the conga line of our group.
P1000762Soon enough, we got our first glimpse of St. Helens. There were a few happy little clouds on a mostly bluebird day.
There was plenty snow offering great coverage for this trip. But the snow pack is low enough this year that we could already see sign posts for the Loowit Trail. Someday, I look forward to hiking or trail running this 30-or-so-mile loop.
P1000766Tom skins up. Time to put on the sunglasses.Rejoining Anita and Carla's route. We all had these big happy grins about the sunny day on the slopes of Helens.Rejoining Anita and Carla’s route. We all had these big happy grins. Perhaps it was the sunny day or because we were on the slopes of St. Helens.P1000769Every few minutes it was rewarding to look back and admire the views.P1000772Carla contemplates her next grand ski objective: Klickitat aka Mt. Adams. Alas, something got on my camera lens by this point in the morning and the rest of my photos have a little cloud on them. Sigh. So it goes.

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!


Hudson and Don on the crater rim with Adams in the background. Don had brought up a treat for all of us! Thanks for the sparkling wine, Don! What a way to celebrate the start of spring.P1000787The “new” summit of St. Helens. Since today’s objective was to have fun skiing, we didn’t traverse the rim to the top. Still, the high point is nice to look at.P1000785Cheers Tom!P1000776Mukmuk came out for some obligatory summit photos.P1000780He also got to partake in some of the bubbly.P1000786Mukmuk, Soapie  and family pose with a great big snow cone behind them.P1000781Matt makes his way to the rim and summit party.P1000783Happy Matt. This happens sometimes.

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.


Such lovely gentle slopes to ski down and such views to admire along the descent.P1000802Brett skiing down.P1000800Brett and Carla are embracing their inner marmots by lounging on the snow. Don and Anita are enjoying the views as we regroup before the next run.

We were back at the cars by late afternoon. Where we partook in a little apres-ski happy hour in the warm sun.


There’s nothing like getting those boots off after a great day. Don and Dave are happy to be back at the car. Sorry the lens was really dirty by this point. Either that or the camera and I were seeing stars.P1000807Tom, Mukmuk, Carla and Hudson are enjoying apres-ski happy hour. Sun. Beer. Chips. What more do we need?P1000806Marmot living the Good Life!

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.

3 thoughts on “A spring ski day

    • Marmot says:

      You just got both Gabriel and me to laugh out loud. Hope you don’t feel like you’re out here on the current trip. After four days of walkin we still haven’t climbed anything.

Comments are closed.