Earlier in the week the weather man predicted that here in Seattle we were going to have some warm days headed our way for the weekend. You should know that in Seattle the weather men and women have the easiest job on the planet because no one ever expects them to be correct.
As soon as I heard that our temps were going to be getting close to 80 degrees I started planning for a day of hiking/trail running, and began asking around to see who wanted to get crazy with me. I think that when we get a few sunny days in Seattle we need to get outside and enjoy them with activity.
I chose a hike called Mount Defiance up near Snowqualmie Pass. The Mount Defiance hike is a little over 11 miles with steep inclines and only moderately technical trail terrain.
The drive to the trail took about and hour and twenty minutes, with the last 15 minutes being on winding dirt roads with huge pot holes to dodge. I had some confusion about how much I needed to pay for a parking day pass because the price wasn’t listed on the trail board, but when I got to the busy trail head I asked a forest ranger and was happy to find that it was nation trail day (or something like this..) and everything was free. Yay for free parking! Apparently everyone else had the same idea as me because the parking lot was packed with cars and I ended up parking down the road a ways.
After parking I took a few minutes to get my CamelBak and sunscreen situation taken care of and then headed towards the trail.
The first 1.5 miles were a combo of running and steep uphill hiking. I love running past other hikers and having them give me this look like they can’t believe that I’m running. I hope that sometime they give running a try.
At around mile 2 I hit an abrupt transition to snow. This wasn’t a problem until my feet started sinking deep into the snow and getting scraped against rocks under the snow. I had to be very careful to only step where the snow was packed down from previous hikers. After a few hundred yard of this mushy snow it started to get firmer and the hiking became faster.
In the distance I could hear people hooting and hollering joyfully and it looked like they were sledding down the mountain. I kept on hiking in their direction, but by the time I got to where I thought the noises were coming from they were gone.
After climbing for another 1-2 miles up the steep snowy mountain I reached a peak. From here the hike was supposed to skirt along the mountain top another few miles to the turn around point, but the snow along the trail was deep and untraveled.
The views at the top of the mountain were amazing, so I took a brief break and decided that it was safest to turn around here.
I thought that I was having fun, but little did I know that the fun was just about to start! As I started heading back down the mountain I was wondering if I was going to re-track my path or find a new way down. This became clear really fast.
I started bounding down the snowy mountain at the speed of a run and I saw the sledding tracks from previous hikers that I wanted to take advantage of so I jumped over to the sled track, but stayed up on my feet. It took about 2 seconds to realized that Brooks Cascadias trail shoes double as skis! No joke, I was skiing down the mountain on my Brooks Cascadias by following the old sledding tracks. This was nothing short of amazing. So amazing that I pulled out the camera and videotaped the experience. The only problem was that I brought my old camera that takes good pics, but terrible video. I attempted anyway and skied down the mountain for about 400 yards when I was unhappily interrupted by falling through the snow to the rocky terrain below.
Only a few scrapes later I made it back to the snow free trail and ran double time back to the trail head.
If you ever get a chance to ski down a mountain on your shoes by all means go for it! Now get outside and have fun by working hard! 🙂