Pipe Creek Skiing
Dad was fail once again. Not that “fail” is all that foreign a concept to Dad. Dad is definitely not afraid to “fail”. Dad’s theory on “fail” is similar to Thomas Edison’s thoughts on life, if you try enough times, the successes will outweigh the failures. So Dad soldiers on, knowing that good things will come in the end.
This time Dad’s “fail” had been showing up a few seconds too late to buy his Snow Pass. To use the Snow Parks in Washington state, one has to buy a Snow Pass. Dad had decided to take Mongo cross country skiing on Saturday at the last minute. Now he had waited just a smidgen too long to get in line for the snow pass, and there was a tourist had jumped in front of him, asking how to go hiking in the snow. On a weekend morning, every second counts on the way to the mountains, because multitudes of other outdoors people are heading there also.
The ranger was trying to answer the man’s question of hiking in the snow. but apparently the tourist’s English was a bit limited in the realm of the winter sports vocabulary, and the very idea of snow shoes was completely foreign to him. This was causing the ranger to have a difficult time conveying the concept across the cultural divide.
There was nothing else to do but wait. Dad had just seen the new Star Wars movie the night before at Cinerama, so he engaged in some Jedi calming routines while he waited. But despite his best efforts with the force, his right foot was still tapping.
The ranger’s descriptions of snow shoes grew to include big sweeping elliptical arm movements. Their conversations was starting to look like a very awkward ballet, that might go on forever.
Eventually, the winter tourist departed in the general direction of REI’s rental counter, but by this time, Dad figured his chances of getting to a nearby snow park and back before dark were shot. He approached the counter.
“I’d like a Snow Pass”, he droned to the ranger.
“For today”, asked the ranger. “You know, they’re only good for one day, and it’s kinda late to get started for today.”, he added cautiously.
“No. Tomorrow will be fine”, moaned Dad.
“Okey dokey. We’ll fix you right up”, chirped the ranger.
Dad took his snow pass and headed home.
The next morning, Dad and Mongo headed out early for Cle Elem. The gathered up all their equipment, which included skiis, goretx rain suit, poles, Gatorade, and kibble, and then they were off. None of the snow parks near Seattle allowed dogs, so Dad and Mongo were on their way to the other side of the Cascades, to Blewitt Pass.
Neither of them had ever been to Blewitt Pass before, but according to the website, it looked like a fine place. It had plenty of parking, and lots of trails, which were open to dogs.
They were lucky with the weather. It was raining. (When is it not raining in February in Western Washington?) But it was not snowing on the Snoqualmie Pass, so they made good time all the way through the Cascades. At the exit from I-90, Dad stopped the truck at a nice little cafe, called Gunnar’s, with good coffee, and some nice baked goods. He got it to go, and then they were on the road again.
At the Pipe Creek parking lot there were a few hardy souls, but even so, there was no problem parking. Mongo sat in the back of the truck with canopy open, blowing huffs of steam, while Dad arranged all of his Gore-Tex, and Nordic equipment. After what seemed like an eternity to Mr. M, they were off down the trail. Mongo was just tickled to be out in the snow. He immediately flopped into the cold white winter wonderland. (Click HERE to see a short video of Mongo snow-surfing on his ears.)
Dad decided to head uphill first and come back to the car downhill. He started out making pretty good time on the uphill, as did Mongo. Mongo post-holed every now and then, when his paws hit a soft spot, but for the most part, his big paws floated over the snow. Mongo has large pliable paws, that spread out easily. They make big paddles when he swims, and they form little snow shoes when he walks on snow. Together the rocketed up the slope of Blewitt Pass. They even got caught in a sun-break which forced Dad to put on his sunglasses to protect his eyes from the “day-star”.
Dad is very adept at going up. In most cases he finds up, preferable to down. On a Grand Canyon hike, one of Dad’s friends watched him wiggle up a wall of stone while wearing a 50 lb pack and christened him, “the gecko.” But down is a whole ‘nother di-rection. When heading down, Dad invariably looks much more like a big bear shinnying down a small tree, than a lithe gecko frolicking on a big rock.
And once again, down was to be Dad’s nemesis. As he and Mongo, turned about and headed back to the car, the heavy wet snow forced Dad’s skis into narrow tracks. He was unable to break them out and snow-plow his way down the hill. So with his skis locked straight ahead and pointing downhill, there was little he could do except gain speed, and fall over when he got going to fast.
To make matters worse, Mongo decided to trailblaze on the way down the hill. He would run in front of Dad, and then when his attention was quickly drawn to some smell along the side of the trail he would stop in the middle of Dad’s track and turn sideways to sniff around.
“Arrrrrrrgh Buddy! Don’t stop THERE!” Dad’s voice echoed off the surrounding hills, as did the “thump” that Dad made when he collided with Mr. M. When the tumbling was over, Dad looked up at Mongo from the wet snow through the tangle of six legs and two skis and said, “Buddy, we need a better plan.”
Dad’s plan was simple. He would distract Mongo long enough to get himself going down hill at a good clip, and then when he needed to fall over to slow down, Mongo would be behind him instead of in front of him. It started off fine, except for the fact that Mongo was having none of it. Dad pointed over into the woods and said, “SKVRL!” Mongo recognized the acronym for his most dreaded adversaries. (Society for Kaos and Violence from Rodent Lowlifes) He bounded over to the woods to investigate. Dad immediately turned and headed downhill.
As soon as he saw Dad skiing away, Mongo bolted through the snow in an effort to take the lead. And since there were two tracks at this part of the trail, he paralleled Dad , and quickly passed him.
True to form, as soon as Mongo got a good lead on Dad, he switched tracks to join up with Dad and then stopped. “Thump”. This time Dad didn’t even have enough time for a good “Arrgh.” He just bounced off Mongo with a big “Ooof!”
After pulling himself out of the snow again, Dad was pretty sure that Mongo would not fall for the SKVRL alert again. So this time Dad just told him to “Sit”. That worked for about five seconds, and then Mongo was on once again on Dad’s heels. Mongo moved into the other track to pass Dad, but the snow between the tacks here was too deep, and Mongo floundered. He had spent too much energy that time, and was forced to tuck back in behind Dad and just lope along til they came to the end of the trail.
As they pulled up at the trail head, Mongo was panting and Dad had shucked his rain suit and was now just venting steam from his clothes.
“Good day, eh Buddy”, asked Dad. Mongo panted harder. Dad helped him in the back of the truck, and gave him the kibbles and water. Then Dad changed into some dry clothes, and turned the truck back around towards Seattle.
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