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Sunday, April 11, 2010

South Fork Stilly--reprise

Last week I went up to the S Fork Stillaguamish River to enjoy our week of winter. As I noted last time, while the snow was welcomed news for all in this region, it was less than a "real snowpack", especially considering the low water content/lack of consolidation that a full winter of winter will bring. Well, since last week we've had another round of similar storms, and I'm happy to say we're coming in on a legit snowpack. Where last week there was about a foot of snow at 2,400', this week there was more like a meter. Upper elevations likely have more than two meters of snow in the past two weeks--just awesome!

The S. Fork Stilly is one of my favorite places to ski-tour: when the snow is good, it is a total world-class experience (having watched Olympic skiing in the Callaghan Valley in BC, I can say this ;-). And even if the skiing isn't perfect, the scenery surpasses most places in the world.

I call the above place "The Gathering". This is where the South Fork of the Stilly comes together--literally the gathering of a river that flows off these peaks and races straight to tidewater just 40 or so miles away.

Last week I didn't see another person all day--this time is was relatively crowded--saw a party of five climbers headed to Lewis Peak, and another couple snowshoeing about enjoying the lovely Spring weather. And of course Athena was with me--she on snowshoes. We had quite the workout (I skied about 10km). Of course, it was nice to be out first cutting track. Note the wind on the upper ramps of Del Campo Peak--at 6,610', this is the highest mountain draining the S. Fork Stilly (as you can see it goes from sea level to 6,610' in a short distance--gotta' love the North Cascades local relief!!).

Pretty easy to see why I frequent this place, eh? It's time to recognize places like this for what they're REAL value is: the source of clean water and a healthy ecosystem for all who call this area home.

Gratuitous extra photo below is a geologic gem known as the "Swauk Formation". Those lovely ramps are echoed on Del Campo and are E. dipping sandstone plates that have been uplifted and inclined. And such things are inclined to avalanche!

It'll be two national parks in the next two weeks: first LaPush-Olympic National Park for some minus-tide coastal action, then the following week to enjoy those avalanches in North Cascades National Park.