For those who live here, none of this is news, but we’re in the middle of a deep freeze (with an added bonus of snow/ice storm and high winds knocking out power)
I’ll write up a more detailed report of stuff in general later (I’m working from home today) but wanted to let folks who have been seeing the news coverage know that I’m one of the lucky ones.
A group of us did the “Let it Snow” bike ride on Sunday. It was snowing (we sang “Let it Snow” at the tops of our lungs for most of the ride) and we cut the ride a bit short so as not to be caught out (especially not across the bridge) when it started to stick. That was a good call as it was sticking when I finally got home from the HUB.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you the “Snopocalypse PreFunk Ride” – Here we are on the one non-snowy portion of the ride on the Tacoma Narrows Bridge
Sunday was a snowy night… Here’s what we woke up to
I woke up Monday morning (normally I have Mondays off, but I wanted to work Monday and take Wednesday off instead for Thanksgiving prep work) and even though I “could” have put the truck and four wheel drive and gotten down the hill, that little voice inside my head (that I always regret not listening to) said, “Oh HELL no.”
I logged into work from home and said that due to the wet snow in the ice and the steepness of the hills I have to come down to get to the train station or freeway, I would wait until conditions improved to try to come in.
Improve they did NOT.
This bus accident happened on the hill I would have had to drive down
and then the “Interstate incidents” started. One by one interstates and highways became blocked by disabled semis and spun out cars. This went on all morning, and only got worse in the evening.
Buses crashed (over 200 metro buses were disabled last night), even the trains were affected. Interstates closed down completely as people abandoned their disabled/out of gas vehicles for fear of freezing to death in the single digit (with wind chill) temperatures. Some people spent TEN hours stuck in stuck in their cards on I-5, some even had to spend the night in their cars. They were out this morning checking cars for people who might not have gotten out last night.
Of course, all the abandoned cars make it difficult for snow plows and sand/salt trucks to get around and do their jobs.
The unfortunate combination of an Arctic Blast with sustained temperatures in the teens (negative temps with wind chill) wet snow and ice was bad enough, but then another wind storm blew in. Puget Sound Energy reported 66,000 without power, Tacoma power had 9,200 and there were numerous outages reported by Peninsula and Seattle Light companies as well.
Last night was a very dangerous night to be without power and an alternate heat source.
I am one of the lucky ones. I have a freestanding gas fireplace (SO glad I put it in this summer before I needed it) gas hot water and a gas stove to cook on.
I have insulated the pipes, keep heat on in the basement, and am making sure the faucets are dripping a bit in case they do freeze so they won’t burst.
All my trees stayed upright although I’m worried about some of the smaller ones just breaking off and my bay laurel is making very disturbing creaking noises because it’s frozen. If that one comes down (not too likely) it could take my roof off the back of the house and kill the grape arbor and green house.
I kept hearing something shatter and hit the window last night. I finally realized that it was icicles breaking off the eves of the roof.
It’s not going to get above freezing for several days, and it’s supposed to be 13 degrees tonight in Tacoma. I may have to bring the chickens (who were NOT amused one bit by their first snow fall) into the basement to avoid frostbite on their combs and wattles and I’m spending a lot of time going back and forth to replace their frozen water with fresh water.
The hummingbirds are keeping me busy rotating frozen feeders with thawed ones. Apparently I’m the only one in the neighborhood doing so because there is a major feeding frenzy going on out there right now. Those poor little guys and girls need all the energy they can get to over winter here, especially in a year like this.
For anyone not from here that wonders why a relatively small amount of snow (compared to other places) causes such gridlock…
It’s the ice baby… the snow here is super wet and sits on top of a layer of ice.
Here’s a video taken last night in Seattle (I give a solid score of “10” to the white car doin gthe loop de loops, and I’m so glad the bus didn’t flip over like ours in Tacoma did.
Yesterday Carla, Peggy and I headed up to Crystal Mountain with one of our meetup.com groups to do the Alpine Wilderness snowshoe tour with fondue dinner.
It was raining when we got there (not uncommon in this state at ski areas which is one of the many reasons I quit downhill skiing for the most part when I moved here)
We snowshoed up from the base lodge to the Quicksilver lift
Once we got up to the top of the lift it was snowing. It was pretty cold because we were soaking wet from the rain and dressing for snowshoeing so that you don’t overheat is not the same as dressing (much more warmly) for downhill skiing. It was also weird getting off a lift wearing snowshoes. My MSRs which have very aggressive crampons/traction made it exceptionally problematic, but I managed not to get hit in the back of the head by the lift chair.
It was a winter wonderland at the top of the lift. (photo by April Sue Storie)
We headed into the South Backcountry to Henskin Lake.
here’s a fun shot I got of Peggy and Calra (this was part of Peggy’s birthday celebration)
Here we are getting ready to hike back down to the base lodge. (photo by Carla Gramlich)
I’m not a big fan of long stretches of hiking/snowshoeing downhill, and hiking down the ski run was a bit tedious. My quads aren’t overly thrilled (it was probably good for them), but my big toes are pretty darn angry; I hope I don’t end up losing them. Had I given thought to the extended downhill trek, I’d have laced my boots differently.
After the snowshoe adventure we went to the lodge for a yummy fondue dinner.
Here we are at the fondue dinner (this is about half of our group)
There were some issues with our “guide” who was more interested in sucking face with his girlfriend who he brought along than in interacting with his guests, but the two younger guides were personable and tried. There were also some issues with the servers seeming overwhelmed at the dinner, but those were minor issues and I have emailed Crystal directly to address them. I won’t be recommending Crystals Snowshoe trips unless I hear something back from them indicating that this is not the way they normally do business.
The important thing is, here were some really awesome people on this trip, we got to go out and tromp around in the snow and April did a fantastic job organizing it!
Yesterday, I went with some new friends from the Seattle Outdoor Adventure and Pacific Northwest Hiking Meetup groups for some cross country skiiing at Cabin Creek.
I’ve been wanting to go to Cabin Creek for some time and have been putting it off because I’m just not in the ski shape I used to be. (it’s not an “easy” place) but this opportunity presented its self and I just had to go.
After slipping and nearly falling on my tush just getting to my truck, I used the 4-wheel drive to safely get down the hill out of my neighborhood and onto the elevated (right next to the water) concrete ramp that is I-705 to get to I-5.
It was so much warmer and sunny a mere 39 minutes up the road at East Gate where we were all meeting (OK, I slid on some ice going around a corner) The weather reports said it was 20 degrees with freezing fog down here and it was 40-something up there. Go figure.
We divided up into carpools and hit the road to cross Snoqualmie Pass to head to Cabin Creek. The roads were actually better crossing the pass than they were down in Tacoma. The only issue was some wicked winds on the west side and heading up the pass. It was enough to blow you into the next lane if you weren’t careful.
It was a beautiful day on the East side of the summit.
My new friend Angela and I did the Berg and Viking Trails.
The snow was a bit more firm than I like for early in the season when I’m out of practice and out of shape, but it was beautiful up there.
I was very wobbly and made about every mistake that one can make on skis; getting stiff, not bending at the waist, knees too close, weight too far back, trying to muscle my upper body around, you name it. It was a bit frustrating for someone who used to teach. It was because I hadn’t been on cross country skis for so long and just wasn’t used to it, nor were the correct muscles used to being worked.
Here I am doing the herring bone up an icy hill. (which is a great hip workout when you haven’t been on long trad skis for a long time)
After doing those loops, we headed down to meet the group for lunch.
After lunch we did some skiing on the easy route because accidents happen when you’re fatigued.
All in all, we skied almost 7 miles (6.95 to be exact) and finished upright, which is a win in my book. Here’s our Garmin tracks.
There are more pictures here:
It was a great day and I plan on spending a LOT more time skiing this year.
Although my lack of confidence and stability on my skis is all about ME and my lack of practice/training/discipline, this last adventure has motivated me to finally replace my 23 year old skis.
Check out the graphics on these circa 1986 beauties…
I decided to stay with a trad ski rather than go with shorter fatter skis (I am moving down from 200s to 195s however) which make it difficult to go skiing on groomed trails with friends. (I already have fat full on telemark skis for straight back country touring)
I chose the Madshus Voss MGV+ I like this one because like my old skis, they are skinny enough to fit in a track, but still has some sidecut (which skis didn’t have in 1986) and metal edges for ice/back country skiing. These have ¾ metal edge which will soften up the tip and tail making them easier to turn and move around.
I’m going to try an NNN boot and binding. I ADORE my old Fabiano Italian telemark boots (as I told someone yesterday who wanted to buy them from me, “You can have these boots when you pry them off my cold, dead feet”) and will keep then for my tele skis as I’m not certain how enamored I am with my new plastic boots (will also keep my old three pin tele bindings in case I want to switch back to that setup.
I’m going for a beefier back country boot instead of a straight touring boot, in this case the lady’s Alpina BC 50L back country boot
It was butt cold today, and it’s going to get much colder, and not expected to get above freezing for the next few days. They are opening emergency shelters)
We had some hail, snow and other forms of frozen and semi-frozen snot like precipitation fall from the sky yesterday so the roads (and everything else) were wet when it re-froze last night (we’ve been getting a few degrees above freezing during the day but that’s over with for now)
It was quite the ice fest this morning. I was quite happy to be home, snuggled up on the couch with a latte and no where that I needed to bed.
I spent a good portion of my morning learning about automated batch processing in Photoshop (I don’t have the time to do it on hundreds of individual images every time I get a lot of good shots). Getting a watermark style signature in the correct place regardless of orientation is an interesting process, but I got it up and running.
I did get up, out and about in the afternoon to run some errands at 2:20 PM, and there was still quite a bit of ice on my truck (I posted a picture earlier today)
One of the things I needed to get was a new topper for my tree. The pretty new one I bought died. The one I brought home this afternoon died after about ten minutes. I found some itty bitty little fuses in the plug and changed them out, but it didn’t work. I’m guessing it was just a defective batch. I’ll take them both back and find something else (not the same thing/brand)
Holiday cards are starting to trickle in…
I’m hoping that some more snowflakes start to show up soon (why yes, that was a not so subtle hint)
But now, I’m packing up for a snowshoing trip in the Cascades tomorrow.
If it’s not going to get above freezing, we might as well go play in the snow.
Much photo whoreage goodness should be expected tomorrow. night..