Sunday, February 3, 2008

Orcas Island Ski and Snowshoe Trip

When the snowlevel comes down to sea level, long-time club members like to think of special outings. In recent years we’ve managed to tour up to Blanchard Overlook, and along the Samish Bay dikes.
This time as the snow filled the lowlands we tried a variation on what is normally a special outing even in the summer.
With the highways difficult to drive due to lowland snow it seemed a remote idea to travel to Orcas Island, but the ferries aren’t bothered by snow that easily.
Driving into Eastsound the view was unusual to say the least for anyone who had been here in the summer. Looking more like Leavenworth than a seaside village we enjoyed snowshoeing and skiing on the trails and beaches around town. A study in contrast, we skied up the northside of Turtle Mt. but were able to hike a warm sunny, and mostly snowfree trail on the south side.
After some tentative exploration to Sunrise Rock and past the waterfalls of Moran State Park we were ready to tackle the “Big One.” Mt. Constitution!
What an adventurous and rewarding trip.
Beginning at the bottom with thin slippery snow and boot hiking; we soon transitioned into deeper snow where snowshoes and eventually skis became a necessity.
The last section of trail seemed to be along the top of a cliff band and we had to move with extra caution. Soon after, the final trail segment led to the startling sight of what of course appears to be an ancient rock watchtower rising up above all else, in a world of white and grey. Beautifully feathered in ice crystals from blowing snow we carefully made our way to the top; over drifts of snow spilling in from the open window slots and spreading about the floor and stairs. We could only remain outside briefly due to the powerful winds and cold but despite the lack of views, none of us were disappointed.
The trip down on a combination of snow and ice covered road and trails was not as enjoyable as we had hoped but the brief opening in the clouds just as we reached the viewpoint of Little Summit made it all worthwhile. In town, it felt like we were hut skiing, warm, dry and comfortable each evening, and yet picturesque accommodations on the waterfront. A very special trip.

1 comment:

TreeTimer said...

This sounds like it would have been fun. I'm a member, and read the Rambler, and subscribe to the short notice outings listserve, but didn't hear about this until reading it here just now. Wonder what I need to do so I don't miss the next fun outing like this one???