Friday, March 18, 2011

From snow to no

Location: Commonwealth Basin, Little Si

Distance: 9 miles

Commonwealth Basin, which is north of Snoqualmie Pass, follows a section of the Pacific Crest Trail and had far more powder that I had anticipated. The bathroom at the head of the trail was nearly engulfed and no amount of pulling or shoveling was going to open the door.

It was a snowy day and temperatures hovered about 30, which is just about perfect conditions for me. The storm obscured most of my views of Red Mountain and other nearby peaks so I lost myself in the snow-capped trees, some of which looked like ice cream cones. After snaking along a creek for about two miles, we entered a break in the trees and found ourselves staring up an obvious avalanche zone. Although there was evidence of point and release avalanche activity, I convinced my hiking buddy to cross (with a wide distance between us) and keep going another mile or so until we lost the trail. With great disappointment at so quickly giving up on a backcountry trail I’d had earmarked for weeks, but knowing that the avalanche danger that day would complicate our ascent, we turned back.

We decided to cap the afternoon with a quick run up Little Si. It was a bit odd to go from snowfall to no snow and strong winds (especially since I was still dressed in snow gear), but it was a pleasant climb up the mountain with some decent views of the surrounding valleys. All in all, a strong day.

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