Monday, November 28, 2011

4 Day Thanksgiving Weekend

What a great 4 days!  We managed to work in a little bit of everything.

Thursday started with our annual visit to Walter and Courtney's pumpkin waffle breakfast.  We visited for a while and then bundled up for our yearly walk around Greenlake.  

The first half of the walk was a calm stroll in the misty cool fall weather we know and love around here.  The second half of the walk the weather turned on us and we ended up using our umbrella as a shield against the blasting wind and rain.  Wow it was nasty.  That will be a walk we will think back to every Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving afternoon we headed down to Dan and Laura's house.  We cooked, ate, drank and visited and before we knew it the clock said midnight.  I have no idea where that 10 hours went.  It was a great time and as always such a blast to chat and take it easy with those guys.  

Friday the plan was to not leave the house.  I was pretty excited to sit on the couch all day and read.  I now know that i am not very good at not doing anything as I was pacing the house by 2pm.  I managed to calm myself down and got in a bunch of reading which was excellent.  Looking back on the weekend I am very glad that I had Friday to just take it easy as things ramped up from there.

Me mid conversation about something
Saturday I was up at 5:30am, had all the ski gear in the car, and was on the road with Ross and his dad by 6am.  Ross's dad was coming up with us for a day of back country skiing.  His dad is a good downhill skier but had never had to work for those turns.  We got to the closed resort at about 7:30 and were on the slopes shortly after that.  We headed back up to Alpental where Natalie and I had gone last week.

Well the great snow that Natalie and I had was still there but it was hiding under about an inch of ice.  We started in the rain and started up to try to find the snowline.  It had to be up there somewhere.  Well I am sure it was up there but we certainly could not find it.  We turned around at about 4500 feet and headed down.

Ross's dad at the top of the climb
It is days like that when I am so happy I snowboard.  Ross and I were able to make the best of the terrible conditions and wring a few great turns out of the descent but Ross's poor dad had an awful time.  The snowboards let us float enough that we acted like ice breakers and were able to make turns and descend.  Skis  proved a lot more challenging though and pretty much took all the fun out of the descent.

We all arrived at the car smiling though and it was a great workout.  Amazing how much conditions can change in a week.  We will see what next week has to bring.

After I got home saturday I put up all my ski gear and got out my running gear so I would be ready Sunday morning for the Seattle 1/2 marathon.  As I was getting my things together Natalie decided she felt like running it too.  Our friend Jake had a packet that he had picked up for a friend who was not doing the race so on the spot the decision was made and Natalie was in.  I love that she can just jump off of the couch and run 13.1 miles.
Everyone at the finish line!

Sunday morning we were up at 5:30am and out the door by 6:30 headed down to the race.  We had 4 people running.  Natalie, myself, and our neighbors Jake and Stephanie.  This was Stephanie's first 1/2 ever which was exciting.  When we were walking to the start it was cloudy but dry and about 50 degrees, pretty much perfect.  Just as we started the rain started.  It poured the entire race.  That might sound terrible but it was actually great.  It felt so good to have the rain in your face, made me feel alive.  

Everyone had a great run!  Natalie ran a sub 2 hour race (with no training), Jake hit his goal of just over two hours, Steph came in at her goal and checked off her first 1/2 marathon.  I was psyched to come away with my personal record of 1:52.  After not really training that much and skiing the day before I could not be happier.  We spent the rest of the day watching three movies as it poured outside.  Great finish to an excellent 4 day weekend.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Quick trip to Alpental

Sunday Natalie and I got out into the snow for a really nice back country ski tour.  I recently finished a back country setup for Natalie and wanted to find somewhere close to test everything out with her before we made a real road trip somewhere.  Luckily for us Alpental ski resort, which is only an hour from the house, has not opened for the season yet.  There is pretty good snow cover everywhere but the weeds are still sticking up.

Natalie was not feeling so hot but she was a trooper and headed up anyway.  At the house the sun was shining and the sky was blue.  We were a little sad that when we made it up to the mountain the blue skies were replaced with clouds but there was very little wind and the snow was in great shape.

This was my first trip up to Alpental so we wandered around for a little while trying to find the easiest way up.  After a long traverse across the resort we headed up.  We were out for about 3 hours and got fairly high on the mountain before taking one nice long run back to the car.

It was great being out with Natalie on such a nice day.  I love that my wife is game for getting out in the cold and skiing around for the day.  I am hoping that the resort does not open for a few more weeks so maybe we can get another trip or two in up there.  Nice only driving a hour from the house rather than the normal two and a half or three to Mt Baker.

Monday, November 14, 2011

First backcountry snowboarding day of the season

Ok, I really will get the Italy posts up soon.  Until then I thought I would put up a quick post about this past weekend.

The snow has started coming down up in the mountains and it was time to go visit it.  The plan was pretty simple.  Ross and I headed out of Seattle at 6:30 Sunday morning headed to Mt Baker.  We headed up to Heliotrope ridge.  This is the same approach I used a few months ago when a group of us climbed to the top of Baker.

There was a lot more snow than I expected.  I had to not only be in 4wd to get to the trailhead but I also had to put on chains.  In November?

We hiked the first little bit and started with a sketchy river crossing but past that we split the boards and skinned up.  It took about two and a half hours to get to the toe of the glacier and we climbed for about two hours past that.  It was slow going due to the wind moving around the snow.  Some places were were knee deep super soft snow and then we would round a bend to a wind scoured face that we had to be very careful to keep an edge on.

After two hours of climbing the day was getting late and the weather started to turn on us so we put the splitboards back together and pointed them downhill.  What a blast!  We dropped 1000ft of elevation gain in no time.  The snow was fantastic and neither of us could wipe the smile off of our face at the bottom.

Only a few pictures due to the weather and high winds.  Hopefully this is another start to a great season.