With another winter storm blowing in and high avy we decided to stick to a closed road and xc ski up The White River Entrance Rd to Mt. Rainier. It seemed like there should be snow at 2700ft. However, when we arrived at the gate the snow line was at least 1000ft above us. We made the quick decision to drive back to Smithbrook instead of walking with our skis up the rd for several hours to the snowline.

A few hours later a Smithbrook Rd we were greeted with a very snowy road and a winter storm as promised by the forecast. Damien was surprised at how slick xc skis are. It was his first time on the skinny skis! After an initial fall we caught on easily. Its very strange going from fat skis with skins to slippery, think xc skis!

Smithbrook had been well groomed by snowmobiles as usual. We climbed pretty easily through the wintry storm. Snowmobile tracks that were just created seemed to fill in extremely fast with the heavy, thick snowfall. Accumulation was pretty mind-blowing! At the high point a grey jay with a distinctive short trail followed Damien down the slope for at least 45 minutes. It did not follow me. I never saw it unless Damien was close by.

We descended from the high point of Smithbrook Rd. (about 4550ft) to junction where a sign indicated that 15 miles left was Lake Wenatchee and 4 miles right was Something (the name was covered with snow) Creek TH. The Creek TH rd seemed to have gotten less snowmobile use so we decided to head that way. We stopped at 3:00pm knowing that it would take at least an hour to set up camp in the deep snow drifts. Plus, we were sure when we would find another suitable place to camp. There section had a flat area away from any slopes a few yards away from the road not under trees. We wanted to avoid being under trees after hearing the previous weekend’s snow falling out of the pines like bombs.

After some sinking up to our hips as we tried to get camp together we managed to flatten out a stable place for the tent. Damien dug a 3 feet hold for the vestibule as he feared leaving our packs outside overnight. We might now find them in the morning if the thick snowflakes continued to fall! This was definitely the right decision.

Throughout the night we periodically banged on the walls of the tent to knock down the piling snow. At one point the snow on the sides of the walls got so thick the walls of the tent began sinking in and Damien had to go outside and dig us out. In the morning the accumulation was rather impressive. I would day anywhere between 2-2.5 feet fell overnight.

The going was slow but not too difficult as we took turns breaking trail back to Smithbrook Rd and then up to the high point. We were surprised that still no snowmobiles had passed through the area. Damien was greeted by a small flock of Grey Jays that followed him down the hill again for 30 minutes. They even landed on his arm and pole a few times!

At the Lake Valhalla Trailhead we stopped for a quick break. From here there were finally tracks to follow on the road ahead and as we snacked a snowmobile passed. We had a lovely glide down to Highway 2 where we found our car once again concealed in snow. It wasn’t as bad as last week through and we were able to dig out in 30 minutes this time!

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