Saturday, February 4, 2012

Sheer awe on Amabilis

Location: Snoqualmie Pass

Distance: 8 miles

Elevation: 2,100 feet

Conquering Amabilis Mountain made me realize something deeply disturbing – I’ve probably knocked out dozens of peaks with stunning views, though all I could see was fog or snow. I feel cheated, and challenged. Now I’ll have to go through the list of trails where I couldn’t see a thing and try them again, just to make sure I’m not missing the best part.

Today was a rare, brilliant day in Western Washington where the skies were blue and the air was crisp, but not too cold. I started at a sno-park and walked the first mile or so on the side of a forest road more popular with cross-country skiers than snowshoers. After the second mile, the road forked and I chose to start left on a looping traverse of the mountain. There was plenty to look at – Keechelus Lake (again), the Yakima River and the South Cascades.

The trail climbed steadily enough to get me breathing hard but not so much as to make breaks necessary. When I neared the ridge crest, I had a sprawling view of the lake to my left and Mount Rainier to the right. I don’t think I’ve seen a prettier sight on a day hike.

After another slope, I came to another intersection and headed south to the 4,554-foot summit. There were a couple trees atop the snow banks to block the wind … but not by much. In the end, the serene scene won me over and I stayed for nearly an hour, smiling with frozen cheeks.

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