We were pretty happy to finally get out again this weekend. Illness and some crappy weather had kept us from our adventures the past few weeks. This was supposed to be an AT ski to Park Butte. However, we discovered that unlike last year, the snow began about  one mile from Baker Lake Rd at The Mt Baker NRA Sno-Park at 1400 feet. Basically this added about 5 miles to the trip which, of course, led to things going behind schedule. Skinning up the FS Rd 12 & 13 went pretty quickly (8 miles) and we arrived at Schreibers Meadows TH at about noon. Everything was pretty well groomed from the snowmobiles and the snow itself was in good condition allowing for nice skinning. Weather wise, it was cloudy with some intermittent snow and cold rain. Lots of motorized recreationalists were out and about, but all were polite.
From here the snowmonile track continued into the meadows and the grade steepened quit a bit. It looked as the though Sulpher Creek had flooded recently. It looked like the snow around the creek hand be carved out into a deep canyon. Luckily, the snow bridge was still in and allowed for safe crossing. In fact I think it was better than last years bridge since it was wider. We continued to follow the snow mobile track along the moraine and smaller creek until in turn right and headed to the rolling slopes of lower Mt Baker at 4,500ish feet. At this point we left the trail and continued to follow the creek along the moraine looking for a place to cross. We floated well on the snow.  However, snow began to fall harder at this point and it was sticky crud that stuck in huge blocks to our skins. We tried glop stopper, but it didn’t make a difference. Instead we intermittently banged on our skis with our poles. It was during one of these banging sessions that I managed to snap one of my poles clean in half. Marvelous! At this pointed we examined the situation…. and options for fixing my pole. It looked like there would finally be a place for us to cross the creek several yards away. However, with increasingly less visibility due to the heavy snow and slow going due to the sticky conditions we decided that trying to scale the moraine and ski to Park Butte would prove pretty fruitless. We knew from our Pinnacle Peak attempt a few weeks ago that sticky snow building on skins is like skiing wearing cinder blocks and decreases speed to a snail pace crawl. Damien was also in a lot amount of pain. At that point the reason was unknown, but we would find out the next day that he had shingles.  With all these factors taken into account we decided to call it a day at 3:45 and set up camp near some trees.
Lots of snow fell overnight (maybe 5 inches) and we woke up to it still falling the next morning. Damien splinted my pole using our spoons and athletic tape. If you recall last year his binding broke on the way to Park Butte. Way does gear always break on this trail?! What took us 7 hours to ski up (14 miles) took all of 2 hours to descend. The snow was in good condition all the way to the bottom and provided a fun ride. We lucked out in that only had to ski through freezing rain for about 15 minutes too!