During this past storm cycle, young Alex Ropka got some of the goods just prior to getting his drivers’s license… What a month for Alex, knowing how amped I was waiting for my 16th birthday, so I could start a new level of freedom. However, his anticipation was broken up by a bunch of September snowfall on Mt. Rainier, so he and his ski partner and dad, Ben Ropka made thier way up to the Paradise parking lot to get some freshies!
This past Thursday (9/3/15), Jeff Rich, Chris Farias, Steph & Zack Jessel, and Tara & Carl Simpson headed for Mt. Rainier’s Paradise parking lot to make the long slog up to Camp Muir, where they found this season’s first fresh SNOW! It paid off, as you will see in the video below, finding the dirty suncups blanketed with a layer of white magic! Glad to see some freshies hitting the Cascades early this month, as last month’s ski day was very grim. Some of our higher ski areas have received a little dusting as well, during this recent storm, making me think I should load up for a Labor Day ski day on Rainier too! Remember, PNW skiers, we don’t want a repeat of last year, so think SNOW not Super Bowl show.
Below is Carl Simpson’s edit of Thursday along with some clips of his solo ski yesterday. Enjoy the first snow vid of the new season!
Starting today, 4th graders and their families nationwide can visit the new Every Kid in a Park website to obtain a pass that provides free access to students and their families to all federally managed lands and waters – including national parks, forests, wildlife refuges and marine sanctuaries. The pass is valid for the 2015-2016 school year until August 31, 2016, and grants free entry for fourth graders and three accompanying adults (or an entire car for drive-in parks) at more than 2,000 federally-managed sites.
Leading up to the 100th birthday of the National Park Service in 2016, President Obama announced the Every Kid in a Park initiative earlier this year as a call to action to get all children to experience America’s unparalleled outdoors, rich history and culture.
“The National Park Service is inviting every kid in America to find their park as we celebrate our 100th birthday in 2016. When fourth graders and their families use their free passes, they will discover fun-filled adventures in the outdoors and learn about themselves and our collective history,” said Jonathan B. Jarvis, Director of the National Park Service
Fourth graders can log onto the website at www.everykidinapark.gov and complete a fun educational activity in order to obtain and print their paper pass. Students may also trade in their paper pass for a more durable pass at participating federal sites nationwide.
⭐⭐⭐⭐️⭐️(5 of 5) Trail run/climb from Esmeralda TH (trail head) to Mt. Stuart Summit. To get there from Seattle take I-90 East just past Cle Elum, get off at Exit 85. Cross over freeway heading East on SR 970 for about 10 minutes, then turn (left) onto Teanaway Rd and follow until the pavement ends, taking the right fork which is still Teanaway Rd. (fs road 9737). Take the dirt road to the very end which puts you at the Esmeralda TH.
The run/hike starts out on the Esmeralda trail for .3 miles, then you will come up on the Longs Pass/Ingalls Lake junction (to the right), the trail will climb a total of 2,000′ to Longs Pass (1.4 miles after you leave the Esmeralda trail, you will hit the junction for Longs Pass, to the right). It will be and excellent grade for another 1.2 miles topping out at the Pass. Note, the grade is excellent to run, but for this adventure I recommend saving your energy. From Longs Pass you will run 1,500′ (1.4 miles) down to Ingalls Creek. This is where you will want to hydrate and fill up with at least 64 ounces of water. Then, run down stream for apx 1/2 mile keeping an eye out for the Mt. Stuart climbing trail to the left (it can easily be missed). Once on the trail, get ready for the calf popping steepness for 4,615′ to the Summit. The climbers’ trail will lead you to the Cascadian Couloir which is a fairly steep grade, made a little tougher with all of the sand mixed in with the scree and rock. Once you top out on the ridge you will be just below the false summit, and be careful if there are others above you as the rock is quite loose. Once on the false summit it is a fairly easy get, that includes a little scrambling, to reach the summit.
As you see from the pic above, Jeff Rich and I sucked in a lot of smoke from all of the current Washington state fires, when we started our adventure and hit Longs Pass, we could see Mt. Stuart clearly. By the time we did the long descent down from Mt. Stuart to Ingalls Creek and back up to Longs Pass, you could only get a blurry view of our recent summit. I am praying for the 3 lost fire fighters and that the 1000+ brave men and women currently fighting the battle, can the devastating fires of Eastern Washington under control. (more pics on our fb page).
Pretty grim ski this past August 3rd, 2015, in regards to snow on Mt. Rainier. We all were shocked how much had melted in one months time. That being said, we made the best of the ski part of our epic day with friends and YO YO skied a nice patch of soft suncups. However, in my view the best part of the day was moving in the mountains with great friends, then getting a little bbq action in at the parking lot. The sunset rolling home, by “Sunrise” wasn’t too bad either! Remember friends, life is short enjoy every minute, and always remember “Live to Ski Another Day!”
Above Andy Traslin enjoying some juicy watermelon while Silas Wild washes down the great day with our favorite Brew… Dru Bru!
Here’s our 2014 “Cascade Crest Classic 100 Endurance Run” VIDEO, just in time to add a little stoke for the 2015 event coming up in a couple of weeks (2015 race dates are Aug 29th and 30th). This is an event that just doesn’t seem humanly possible (at least to me, as I am very trashed after a 20 mile mountain run), especially when you do the math on the 100 miles and 20,470′ of vert gained and lost (combined vert of 40,940′) that Seth Swanson covered in 17:56:50. Seth Swanson, a Missoula native and 1st time CCC 100 competitor, not only crossed the finish line first, but shattered the course record by 31 minutes. Jeff Hashimoto (43 yrs old) crossed at 18:44:45 and 3rd place was taken by Gary Robbins (37 yrs old) at 18:54:27. Amie Blackham (35 yrs old) crossed the finish line first for the women at 21:56:19, followed by Puget Sound local, Jordan Maki (26 yrs old) at 22:28:43, and third place at 22:47:24 by Marta Fisher (39 yrs old).(
The former course record of 18:27:52, was set by Rob Bien (39 yrs old). This new time was shaved from the mark set the year prior by Jeff Browning (39 yrs old) of Bend, OR, 18:31:09. Prior to the new bar set under 19 hours, two time king of the CCC 100, Phil Shaw, set the bar at 19:47:40 back in 2009, for this hardcore event that begins in Easton, climbing right away into the mountains South of I-90 and heads towards Snoqualmie Pass, then crosses under the freeway, for another 50 mile leg back to Easton (which is full of epic views and wicked steep climbs). This event takes a ton of dedicated people to make it happen smoothly and safely, so that being said, congrats to not only the people that attempted this great feat (wether you finished or not, you are a bad ass in my book; especially knowing that one can’t just sign up to run this event, it’s earned!) and the Cascade Crest 100 event staff, aid station folks and volunteers from the trail crew to the Easton Fire Department (all orchestrated by race event director Rich White).
I also want to give mention (a tip) in regards to a great post mountain run cool down spot (or spots) which are located on Snoqualmie Pass, WA. First, the Aardvark Express (which has the best food on the planet) and second, Dru Bru Brewery (and tap room). Dru Bru’s beer is brewed right on Snoqualmie Pass with our local mountain water. Epic food and beer to finish off a great day in the Cascades (btw, if you choose to hit the brewery first, please note that the Aardvark’s menu is on hand in the “tap room” and they will deliver to Dru Bru). See you on race day, and always remember, “Live to Ski Another Day” Snow Troopers!
Above: video screen grab – Seth Swanson @ Mirror Lake, a solid 2+ miles ahead of 2nd place.
Below: French Cabin aid station.
Below: 2014 race results
⭐⭐⭐⭐️☆(4 of 5) Trail run from Bandara Mountain TH (trail head) to Talapus Lake TH, WA. This is a perfect through run (apx. 11 miles with some a fair amount of vert) to do with a friend and two cars (or if your timing is good, you can get a friend to follow you to the Talapus Lake TH, leave your rig and have them drop you at the Bandera Mountain TH. Both of these THs are located off exit 45 on the North side of Interstate 90. I chose to do run the clockwise route, which requires leaving the “pick-up” vehicle at the Talapus Lake trail head which is the first right you get to leaving the in the road (forest service road 9030) and the run starts at the end of (fs road 9031) the “main” dirt road”. Note: just like most of the trail access roads, it is a bumpy ride, for a mile or so, but fine for low profile vehicles.
The run starts out at the Bandera Mtn. TH (2,200′) climbing at a nice grade for apx. 3 miles, when you hit the ridge of Bandera (apx 4300′). Then the trail starts to descend over the ridge down towards the first of five lakes on this very nice run, Mason Lake, which is apx .5 miles loosing a couple hundred feet.
Once at Mason Lake, continue on the runners left side of the lake and stay on the “main trail” (lots of little off chute trails, but wooden signs up in some of the trees stating “main trail”), you will come to a junction with in .25 miles for Little Mason Lake (which is to the left), stay on the “main trail” for another 10th or so, until you hit another junction for Mt. Defiance to left, but take the right towards Rainbow Lake. You will climb for about .3 miles then hitting some nice flat running which will bring you to Rainbow Pond (see our fb page for pics of this small pond). Shortly after you run to the left of the pond you will come to Rainbow Lake (this is where I chose to get water).
Continue running the sweet terrain towards the Island Lake junction apx. .3 miles past Rainbow lake. Take the right trail for .4 miles down to Island Lake (my favorite on this run, also a great lake to do an overnight trip). Note as you approach the lake you can get a couple peek a boo views of Talapus lake far down the drainage (pic on our fb page).
Head back out the .4 miles to the junction then take the right for some great ridge top running that leads first to the junction for Pratt lake (to left, but stay on main trail) then to a nice view off to the right of Mt. Rainier in the distance and Olallie Lake down in the valley (pic on our fb page). The trail will circle Olallie loosing a good amount of elevation (apx 600′), bringing you to the junction on the Southern side of the lake for Olallie/Talapus Lakes. Take the trail to the right, getting off the main trail (which the “main trail” would take you to the Granite Mtn. TH). Another 10th of a mile after you take the right trail to Olallie/Talapus, you will hit another junction. To the right leads to Olallie and to the left will lead to Talapus (which I chose not to hit Olallie). Apx. 400′ and .75 miles down the trail you will see Talapus Lake off to the right.
Once you roll past Talapus Lake the trail has an easy grade down to the Talapus TH just under 2 miles and loosing around 5 to 600′.
If you are wondering what the Muir Snowfield is currently looking like… Wonder no more, as our young 15 year old bro, Alex Ropka, captured some vid for everyone from this past Friday night and Saturday (knocking out his August and July ski in one trip). This trip was made with his main year round skiing partner (& dad) Ben Ropka. I guessing their night ski from Friday was pretty gnar, with terrible sun cups only lit by headlamps, but they got’er done. Nice job guys and sweet edit Alex!
Below is a short vid put together by Alex Ropka (photo credit above Alex too).
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ (of 5) Trail run to Jade Lake, WA. First I need to mention there are two Jade Lakes in the Alpine Lakes of Washington (one is located in the Necklace Valley and the other which this post refers to is at the base of Mt. Daniel’s North face). To access this adventure, head for Roslyn, WA and head toward Lake Cle Elum, which will lead you to the Cle Elum Valley Rd. Once on Cle Elum Valley Rd., take it to the very end (driving past Tucquala Lake aka Fish Lake). At the road’s end you first two trail heads (TH), one for the Tucquala Meadows/Cathedral Rock access and the one you’ll want to take, the “Hyas Lake/Deception Pass TH” (trail #1376). This run will be apx. 22 miles round trip, so if you are doing a day hike be sure to get a super early start.
The run starts out with a rare Cascade 3+ mile almost totally flat warm up, which rolls by a beautiful meadow, Hyas Lake before an easy grade of switchbacks that leads to Deception Pass (5 mile point). I ran most of the grade as the weather was perfect, taking a short 5 minute break to eat and hydrate. At Deception Pass trail junction, you will see a sign for Marmot Lake that veers off to the left(trail #1066). The trail rolls nice and mostly flat for 10 minutes or so, with some small uphill grades, before you descend into a beautiful basin, 1.5 miles past Deception Pass, where Hozzbizz Lake sits (you can’t see the small lake from the trail, but I hit it on the way back with a small side track of 15 minutes max). As you pass Hozzbizz Lake you will start to climb out of the basin with an easy grade of switchbacks that becomes a super long traverse of just over 2 miles (the grade is a perfect slight uphill grade- making me think the trail builders for this one were on the “A” team). 2.3 Miles past Hozzbizz Lake basin you will come upon another junction for Marmot Lake (to left) or straight to Lake Clarice. Take the left trail to start climbing, again, perfect switchbacks for .7 of a mile which will lead you to the NE shore of Marmot Lake.
Once at Marmot Lake, look for the most beaten down trail that heads to the left/South. After skirting the lake for apx .5 of a mile, you will come upon a somewhat steep talus field/drainage that leads up to No Name Lake.
The talus scramble (which is roughly .3 miles, has a fair amount of kairns (maybe too many as some lead you to the center of the talus field), as you climb the main scramble trail works to the climbers’ left for the most part. Once topping the talus, the trail becomes a beautiful heather/huck easy grade (for apx another .3 of a mile), rolling to the right of No Name Lake and gaining a little vert leading to the first epic view of Jade Lake (which sits below Mt. Daniel’s Little Lynch Glacier).
The grade down to Jade Lake is an easy run, which will provide for an epic destination/lunch break! Usually on my long trail runs, break at my turnaround point for no longer than 15 minutes, however at this EPIC lake I found myself hanging out for at least 45 minutes, if not more. Being a skier and not an ultra trail runner, my time from the TH to Jade Lake was apx 4 hrs and the return was around 3.5 hours. Stoked to have made it here finally, and can’t wait to get back… Maybe next time will be for a few nights
Our most recent trip up to Mt. Rainier in search of a little Paradise, was very rewarding in a number of ways. 1st, just to get out with some of the finest people, one could know, in a mountain setting is hard to beat. Especially when the weather turned out to be perfect, without any bugs or heat to mention. 2nd, when it’s following a terrible snow year, as the PNW saw this winter of ‘14-’15, and the corn snow skiing far exceeded all of our expectations. Third, but I could keep going more great reasons, the day was capped off with a perfect swimming tarn and some of the finest mountain beer known to man, Dru Bru! Perfect August like ski day, that actually took place this July 6th, 2015! We all hope our August turns will give us some of the same soft perfect suncups (that Silas dubbed “A cups”, which is now the new alphabetical size rating system for those late season suncups, this new rating sytstem can only make me think of the terrifying, frozen bombshell “DD suncups” Adam and I found at midnight on the Westside of Rainier last month)!
Below is our day all wrapped up in a short vid… Pic above credited to me TNT