Wednesday, September 30, 2009

First Snow of the Season

Nude Snow Hike at Night

Talking with the other stewards of Scenic Hot Springs . . . the core of us whom assist the owner . . . it was evident that we needed to start playing cat n' mouse with those who are going to sneak up to Scenic Hot Springs at night and party.

Not the greatest day in Seattle and the rain only became worse as I drove into the Cascades. I volunteered to stand Tuesday night hanging out near the gate to chase trespassers off. Boring stuff mostly . . . temps around 40F and a very cold rain convinced me to just stay in my car and do some reading. I didn't think anyone would brave this miserable weather except myself, and I was right. No one to chase off. I dozed off . . . comfortable with the heater going and a shell around me to keep out that cold rain.

Around eight pm the pounding of rain all of a sudden ceased . . . the steady staccato on the roof of the car that had lulled me to sleep. The silence had awoken me to darkness all around . . . no, a blanket of snow covering the windshield. Wipers and headlights on confirmed it . . . the first snow of the season. A quick glance at the thermometer showed 37F outside. This stuff might last at least through the night.

I had hoped for the rain to stop so that I could hike on up to the springs, proper. Damn chilly outside. I sat for another three hours watching the stuff fall before I was convinced I wasn't needed on guard duty. But was I ready to withstand decidedly cold weather. Only one way to find out. Off came the clothes and I got the pack together . . . not my usual snow gear but the springs were only a mile and a half and 900ft higher. The only concession I made to the snow was to sling a windbreaker through the straps of my fanny pack . . . just in case.

Nothing builds confidence just like a hike in the dark . . . when the dark hems in around you and your imagination runs rampant about things that go bump in the night . . . just outside of the range of your meager headlight. Things like imagined bears and cougars.

Nothing builds confidence quite like hiking in the dark nude . . . hiking in the dark nude and with the headlight turned off . . . hiking dark in the nude with the headlight off and the moon obscured by thick clouds. Or so I say. Now softly falling snow is added to the mix and I'm reveling in every moment of the slow hike. Snow flakes touch my skin and magically roll off in fat droplets . . . I'm putting out heat. That's a good thing.

Eventually I make it up to the springs. No bears . . . no cougars. My makeshift temp repair still seems to be holding and slipping into warm, silky water is glorious. Bear Den is just around 100 to 105F, warm, while Lobster is running nice and hot (120F) . . . my body soaks up the heat for the next two hours. It is well after 2am when, superheated, I towel myself off, slip cold, wet socks and shoes back on and take my time heading back down the mountainside to the car. I'm a little bit on the happy side because I wasn't sure of my cold endurance. Seems to have come back just when I needed it.

Dusting of Snow at Scenic

It was steadily snowing when I finally relocked the gate and pulled onto Hwy 2 (none down there . . . yet). The snow level seems to have been right around 2,400ft. Had the highway all to myself until I reached Sultan. Drove it nude, of course with the heater going full.

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