The Cascades

It occurred to me the other day that I haven’t really experienced winter this year. I know those of you in Maine have had lots of huge snow storms, and I know that Seattle, in the city itself, has actually experienced record high amounts of snow this year. However, I haven’t frolicked in the snow. I haven’t had a snowball fight. I haven’t gone sledding or skiing. It’s funny how magical snow becomes when you haven’t shoveled any of it in a very long time.

I have this vibrant memory of the beginning of the snow storms in the city back in December. Ryan and I had just walked out of our church after the Christmas concert and were walking over the Christian Education building to grab some goodies when it began to flurry. Ryan, as you can imagine, went immediately into a tail spin reaction filled chaotic, child-like excitement. Although I would dare say that I am the composed one of the relationship, I found myself astonishingly thrilled by tiny white flakes falling from the sky. By the time we had loaded up on free goodies like the Lilllys do best, it was a full-blown blizzard outside. Of course as you all know, the snow storm continued for about a week, and Seattle as it is usually known nearly vanished forever. Thankfully we recovered. No thanks to the snow plows.
I restate this memory only to contrast it with my current daily existence. Seattle is supposedly the city of rain; although, you wouldn’t know it by me. It’s pretty cloudy here most of the time, but it’s extremely mild. So mild, in fact, that I’ve lost all sense of reality and am now training for half-marathon because when you can run year round why not put your body through a 13 + mile run? Perhaps in exchange for the radical, abrasive cold weather, I’ve now created a radical and abrasive self-induced craziness of running far too much and too often. All this is to say, that I never see, taste, or enjoy snow these days
. Who would dare to taste snow in a city over-populated by dogs anyway? I live in year-round Maine April and May. Well, maybe. I haven’t been here long enough to know.
On Sunday, Ryan and I decided that I needed some exposure to the Great Western Snow, so we drove up to Alpental (the back-country ski resort Ryan frequents on the weekends) to snowshoe. It was really nice to get outside in a place that actually reminded me of what time of year it was. We began walking along, and quickly
 started ascending at a rapid rate. On our two-hour snowshoe we managed to climb about 1000 feet in elevation to some of the most spectacular sights. Eventually, we even realized that we ended up near where we hiked back in October, although solid ice kept us from actually making it to our past destination of Snow Lake. I managed to catch some great shots of the incredible Cascades, but the last little ascent really made us feel like we were in the mountains.
I have never in my life understood why people use poles when they snowshoe. I mean, really? Why would you need those? However, I had never, until Sunday, snowshoed in the ruggedness and massiveness of Western mountains. As we made our final turn, we passed s
ome people stopping for lunch. I noticed some intrigued looks and sid

eway glances as we kept walking, but I didn’t think much of it.
Sure, the ascent looked rather steep and the two people coming down were simply sliding, but they probably were just being stupid. So we started to climb. And then I was climbing on all fours. We couldn’t really stop because it was too steep to just stand there, so on we went. Our hearts were racing due to a combination of nerves and physical exhaustion; but eventually, we made it. I had looked forward to taking a few shots from the very top, but I could hardly move while I was up there. It didn’t take us long to find ourselves sliding back down the slope as well. Perhaps, those people ahead of us weren’t incapable after all. The hill was just crazy gnarly. (Do you think Ryan has rubbed off on me?)
Overall, we had a blast, and to top the day off we left admits some flurries with hot chocolate in hand. Someone at work told me today that I must think everything is wonderful so long as hot chocolate is involved. While I could certainly see her point, I think this was one case where the hot chocolate, although fantastic, dulled in comparison to the experience.

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