Lots of hopping across streams, skipping through mud and jumping over snow banks to get to this point just west of Hessie. Travel right now is as challenging as it will be all year.
We've entered mud season in Happy Valley. For active types, like Elaine and I, this is a bit of a challenging season as none of our favorite activities are particularly good right from the valley. Yeah, the skin track is still doable, but there is a fair bit of walking though a stream too. The biking trails are still buried, and even a hike leads to some quick post-holing. The good snow is higher and the good trails are lower. So it will be for the next two weeks or so.
On the other hand, there is a sublime beauty to this time of year, especially on days like today where a Cascade-like grey sky hung over the mountains, hiding the Continental Divide and giving us a sporatic mix of sleet, snow and an occassional sun burst. There is almost nobody here, a far cry from two months from now when the Hessie trailhead will be bustling with tourists. The mass raid will begin soon, but for now we enjoy the silence. We hiked this afternoon west, up the closed road, along the creek and through some wetlands that felt downright Alaskan. The aspens haven't budded yet, but we did see a duck family swimming along, a serenity hard to match. Every night the fox give their shrill cry and we even had a bear visit the other day.
I like this valley because it reminds me of places much further north in Alaska or Norway. Lots of thick brush, orange colors and water. It's perfect moose country and a nice spot on a mud season grey day.
After the hike, I was feeling energized so I headed out for a short ski. It was very, very wet, both on the ground where I was often skinning through puddles, and in the air where a heavy Pacific Northwest type snow began to fall. Ski number 130 of the year was nothing special, but it made me smile nonetheless.
A storm is moving in this weekend, and they are predicting two feet of snow up high by Monday morning. We'll back off the big mountains for a bit until they say yes again. Until then, it's squeezing in what you can during the peaceful season of mud.