Snowshoeing Memories from the Warmest Winter Ever

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Maciej, Backcountry Ambassador

I used my skis twice this year, despite the fact that I purchased a season’s pass. The conditions for winter fun in Washington were truly dismal, in fact, the worst I can remember since I moved to Seattle in 2006.We have all done a lot of whining and complaining about the weather but in the end I decided not to give up.

Back in January, I enjoyed a wonderful trip to Methow Valley. It has become an annual event for my friends and me. We were quite pleased to see decent snow conditions for all sorts of winter activities. In addition to engaging in cross-country skiing, I joined The Mountaineers on a nice snowshoeing hike to Klipchuck Camp. It was a great way to celebrate Winter Trails Day. Tom, our guide, was a well-seasoned snowshoer and I learned quite a few good tips from him. Our group was well matched for fitness level and we enjoyed the 9-mile hike “with a crunch”. Yes, it was a very noisy snowshoe – the top layer of snow was frozen due to the rain the day before and formed an icy crust which, when penetrated with a snowshoe, produced a crunching sound.

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Tom taught us about falling techniques, tree wells, navigation, ice bombs, body heat loss in extreme winter conditions and other important survival skills. Once we reached the Klipchuck Camp, we spend some time digging out a table for lunch. It was a great fun and a hike definitely worth repeating.

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In February and early March I traveled a little further to find snow. This time, my love for winter took me to Northern Italy, and specifically to the South Tirol. I skied and snow-shoed in the Alps before but never in Seiser Alm. This area, without exaggeration, is a paradise for snowshoeing. The highest and largest meadow in the Alps, surrounded by the majestic peaks of the Dolomites, it provides endless opportunities for backcountry exploration. I was dizzy with excitement when I first arrived. There were so many options and it was almost impossible to decide where to go. Everyone can find something suitable for his or her level of fitness and appetite for adventure. I was very greedy for snow and almost overdid it one day…I ski-toured, cross-country skied and snow-shoed – all in one day! Early start and longer days this time of the year allowed me to do so. It was exhilarating and I could not get enough of the glistening powder, magnificent views around me and, at the end of the day, a generous serving of the local specialty – apple strudel with vanilla sauce.

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I wish I had more than just 6 days to explore this part of the world. I barley touched a fraction of what this amazing area has to offer. I decided to return for more in the near future.

It is almost May and let’s face it, the winter is over. Remember, however, that in our neck of the woods we can still enjoy winter for the weeks and months to come.

Crystal Mountain has good conditions at the top and you can take the gondola up and snowshoe around the summit. Mt. Rainer will have snow way into the summer and you can snowshoe there as well. Read Ambassador John’s and my stories about Mt. Rainier experience from last year.

All-in-all it was not the worst year for me when it comes to snowshoeing and I truly enjoyed being a Tubbs Snowshoes Ambassador!

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