We had just a couple of days left of our whirlwind ski tour of the North-West and Woody was keen to show us the full experience of his ‘backyard’. Thus with packs fully laden for an overnight trip, we headed up into the Alpine Lakes wilderness region of the North Central Cascades to spend the night under the stars and ski some more fresh tracks.
We reached Eightmile Lake, actually only a 5 mile skin-in from the road, shortly before nightfall. It had taken longer than we anticipated to weave our way through the snow-laden terrain and the suns rays had long left the narrow confines of the valley. It was already cold. It would only get colder as the night drew on. Wasting no time, I levelled out an area in the snow and quickly erected our tent, ski’s driven in to stake it to the cold ground. After a meagre meal of freeze dried Lasagne in which my new Jetboil Sol Titanium proved its little weight in gold, I was keen to disappear into the confines of my sleeping bag, Woody was keen to get some night tracks in. So as we gazed at the million stars above us, swooshing radiated across the frozen valley floor from above as Woody carved turns in the moonlight.
The following day dawned cold. It had fallen a long way below freezing overnight and the inside of the tent was coated in a thick layer of ice crystals. It had been a long night, my Iceline sleeping bag had performed admirably but my thin foam mat had struggled to stem the cold from below. We were therefore keen to climb high as fast as possible in search of the first rays of sun which were cresting the ridge high above us.
As is always the case it was a long climb followed by an all too short descent. The snow was perfect, a soft upper crust but compact beneath, meant for a fast charge sweeping down through the stumps and charred remains of a Pine forest, thinned back by the ravages of forest fire some years earlier.
Before long we were back in the frozen shadows of the valley. All that was left was to pack our tents away and head down to the lower reaches of the valley in search of sunlight once more. Our Cascade dream was at an end, for now.