We could only swing a Saturday trip this weekend due to some important engagements on Monday which required recovery from the mountains. This we decided to drive out to Leavenworth. The snow level had dropped to 1000ft and we were hoping to find some ice in the Icicle Canyon. We brought our XC skis as a backup though as Washington isn’t known for reliable ice.

We drove over Stevens Pass through the winter weather warning. Once again snow was falling heavily in the mountains, quite the contrast from last winter’s dry forecast. We were surprised to find that snow level was so low that there was snow in the town of Leavenworth as we turned onto Icicle Rd. I had heard of snow being in the town, but it took 4 years for me to actually see it!

We drove down the road looking at the rock walls for ice or mixed climbing opportunities. The ice we saw was either very thin or little icicles and the rock walls for mixed were covered in fresh powder.  We packed at the road closure at Bridge Creek Campground and decided to put on our snowshoes haul our ice gear up the snow cover Eightmile Rd. (closed to vehicles in winter). There was supposed to be some good ice areas by the Mountaineer Creek Drainage. However, after walking up the Rd for over an hour it was clear that all the ice below was us way to thin to climb. We opted to turn back and get our xc skis.

The xc ski up Eightmile Rd. was rather lovely. The snowy skis cleared to reveal a bluebird day. The first bluebird day we experienced in the mountains this season. Snowshoers and AT skiers ahead of us had broken trail so the good was smooth as we glided over the fresh tracks. It the perfect grade Rd for xc skis as well. Just borderline of needing to herringbone in some stretches and almost flat in others. We climbed to the Stuart Lake Trailhead and then had a very enjoyable ride back down to Icicle Creek Rd. The slope is perfect for a fast but still controllable ski down. It was Damien’s first time on what was essentially a groomed track and he did splendidly!

We reached the road just as darkness fell. We were going to try to drive through Leavenworth to see the Christmas lights quick but the backup was so bad we turned around and went home. Always better to stay in the Canyon!

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