We meant to go to Lake Josephine. A simple trip since Damien was getting over a cold and I was suffering from the same nasty cold that he passed on to me. Turned out to be a bit of an epic. It started out innocently enough. We began at Stevens Pass and skinned up the runs before the ski lifts opened. Ski patrol told us that the back side was closed, but we could still get to Josephine by going up to the pass on the ski run and then go right to the other side of the boundary and down through the trees. basically we had to ski just beyond the ski area boundary which is roughly what we had planned on anyway. We skinned over the top of the pass and left the ski area as instructed. The tree area was full of huge drifts, but once we descended past that into the more open area of the Mill Valley we enjoyed fun powder to the PCT. Woth skins back on we floated pretty well on the new powder that was steadily building. However, we paused as the trail skirted a steep slope that had some bits of avy debris on it.  The snow hadn’t completely avalanched yet and was still loading. With 1.5 feet expected overnight, crossing below the slope in the morning sounded kind of dicey. We doubled back and decided to make it a short day and camp about 200 yards from the ski boundary protected in the trees. We did not camp directly under any tree though. We heard huge thuds and saw massive craters in tree bombs that had already fallen.

We pounded the walls of the tent throughout the night to knock down the accumulating snow. Standard practice. But at 4:30am when we banged on the walls no snow moved. Perplexed we peaked out the vestibule…and saw a wall of snow. We were buried. Luckily, it was soft powder so it was easy for us to tunnel out. It turned out that the only part of our tent that wasn’t covered in snow was the tippy top. Our ski poles were buried as well (easily found)! About 4 feet had fallen! We got out the shovels and started to dig the tent free.
We figured no more than a foot would fall before daylight so we settled back into the tent listening to what we thought was the sound of the groomer. We figured that in snow this deep we might be forced to take the “closed” ski runs back to the main resort area.  When we woke up again at 7:30 there was one more foot of snow as predicted.
 As we began to prepare for the ski out we began to heard bangs. These were not tree bombs. It was dynamite. The resort was blasting in the Mill Valley area… and some of the blasts seemed right over out heads. We could hear voices every now and then to. We dismantled the tent as quickly as we could which was really not very quick dealing with deep powder, wind and heavy snow. We wanted to get to a safe area and maybe talk to ski patrol. Damien cut a trail away from the slope to an area with a slight rise. We saw some debris come down nearby after some sonic booms that once again seemed to be echoing right above us. We hunkered down here in a small hole with the tent fly over our heads. We figured on venturing out once the blasts got further away. Luckily, the dynamite moved off just as we were beginning to get really cold.
Damien cut through deep powder and manged to find the cat-track. With the dynamite we did not feel safe going out of the boundary for fear of being blown up. We stayed on the track up to the Pass. Then we had a pleasant ski back down to the lodge with all the whooping inbound skiers and riders.
Adventure filled weekend!



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