On the Easton


This weekend, my window of availability did not align with the window of ideal weather (that would be this morning, as I’m deep in the specimen collections). Clear skies were promised, along with a bit of a blow as the weak low-pressure system that gloomed up the Puget Sound for what felt like the first time in months was sent packing.

It wasn’t bad, at first, hopping across the Easton’s subglacial stream in ski boots, climbing by switchbacks on loam and remnant patches of snow through beautiful old lichen-draped woods. At treeline, we switched to skis, the glory of first light on the volcano as transfixing as ever. We stuck left of a guiding moraine, in and out of gullies as terrain dictated. It was in these gullies that we first noticed the wind, which before long had whipped itself into a frenzy, stinging our cheeks and numbing our eyes. We held out hope it was an artifact of topography, a funneling of an otherwise moderate breeze into something more concentrated. At the edge of the glacier, though, it remained strong, and persisted as we roped up and wove our way through a few major, obvious cracks towards Roman Wall.

45 minutes later, we had had enough, the wind roaring and our edges screeching on ice like some cacophonous tone poem of retreat. By noon, back in subalpine meadows, Colfax, Grant, and Sherman peaks no longer gave off plumes of spindrift, tranquility coming two hours two late.

We headed home. But what is “failure” on days like these?

The intriguing Twin Sisters subrange: upthrust olivine rock and pocket glaciers rising to 7000′ a mere 26 miles from Bellingham Bay.




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