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Saturday, December 29, 2012

Skiing wetlands of the North Cascades





In the two weeks since my last snow report, a couple of strong storms have moved through, resulting in impressive snow totals at all elevations.  Places I was driving a car two weeks ago are now buried under about 30 inches of snow.  This marks three consecutive years of good snowfall at relatively low altitudes (1,500 feet to 2,500 feet elevation).  This is great news for salmon, steelhead and all aquatic creatures; all terrestrials too (including humans).  From hydroelectric generation to watered orchards, we should all revel in the world of water that is our North Cascades.  Such a treat to ski these places--world-class scenery, and sometimes even the snow is world-class.  On this day it would be decent groomed snow along the main road, and some nice track-cutting up towards Stillaguamish Peak.  I urge extreme awareness and caution this year to all travelling the back-country.  But enough of this essay--let's have a photo-essay instead!



Big Four eclipses the sun, which doesn't get very high in mid-Winter sky--the solstice was one week ago. 





The South Fork Stillaguamish River flows away from us, passing below Long Mountain on the way to the inland sea of Puget Sound.



 Picnic table at Big Four visitors area--about 32" of snow at 1,800 feet elevation.  I mentioned strong storms and awareness--note the strata in that snowpack.  There have been at least two events with strong winds and heavy snow lately, and that on top of 2-5 meters of snow from the early December storms...



Wetlands and the on-set of Winter make for some great photography.  The pictures only tell part of the story--the sound of water gurgling and flowing was everywhere, and quite soothing..


Mount Dickerman and headwater forests are reflected in the wonderous wetlands that help form the South Fork Stillaguamish River.




Stillaguamish Peak, namesake of this entire valley.




Water water everywhere.  It is a real blessing to be surrounded by water--and I mean surrounded:  from the snow and ice covering the foliage that occasionally dusted me, to the frosty mist hanging in the air, to the snow and liquid water underfoot, life is good when one is immersed in the stuff of life.

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