June 29, 2012 | Posted in:Snowboarding

It’s been a while since I have posted any of my excursions on here. There is a not-so-good reason for that! Namely, summer is in full swing and I have found myself replacing big adventures with smaller, but more frequent outings. I also got the sense that for a while there that I was one-upping myself, and every trip was more exciting than the last. I could only carry that momentum so far, so you will have to settle for some less exciting adventures with some, hopefully, still pretty pictures. Do not fret, I do still have some awesome trips lined up for the summer, including backpacking through Yosemite. And, my to do list is quite profound including both Mt Adams and Mt Baker (Mt Rainier is on there too, but I have to save some things for next year!).

One advantage of living in the PNW is the access to year-round snowboarding. Sure, as it gets later in the summer it is going to get more tricky to find the snow, but it will be there. And for now, it is still quite easy to find. Namely you can drive 40 minutes (or an hour and a half if you make the mistake of leaving during rush hour) up Snoqualmie pass, park in the Alpental parking lot, and find snow after a mere five minute hike hike through a little brush and a few streams.

As you may know, last week was the summer solstice, marking the longest day of the year. To celebrate, a group of like-minded individuals started a growing tradition a couple of years ago. They meet at the top of Alpental, hang out with the grills going and beer flowing, partying until the sun sets over the western reaches of the Cascades and the Olympics (if you are lucky). The tradition has grown over the past couple of years and there were a number of people who came to admire this beautiful sunset.

Being a Wednesday, I wasn’t able to leave Seattle until 5, so we had a bit of a late start. I do not advise driving at rush hour if you can ever help it. We did not make it up to Alpental until around 7. We were nearly the last group of people, in a mostly full parking lot, to start the climb to the top. I made a new friend in the parking lot, so she, and her dog, joined Amy and myself on a leisurely stroll up to the summit. A vast contrast to some of my previous adventures, the rolling green mountains were a refreshing change. 
We were climbing up the north-east face making the entire trip spectacular. Early in to the tour the sun dipped behind the peak and started to fill the clouds with spectacular colors. In fact, throughout the entire trip, the clouds were phenomenal. 
The snow was not exactly ideal, but I hadn’t been expecting much in the first place. I was entirely happy to simply be back out in the mountains. It had been a whole week and a half since my previous trip to the mountains…I was starting to go through some serious withdrawals. Some of you who are a bit more astute may notice that it has been much more than a week and a half since my last documented adventure on here. Gasp. I went snowboarding and didn’t post about it! As a matter of fact, yes I did. I had a fantastic day snowboarding some fun June pow at Crystal. While indeed a fun day, I was still having an internal battle of wanting to on-up myself so I couldn’t bring myself to describing a day of resort riding. Oh well. It’s done now. Here have another pretty picture! 

When we finally made it to the summit, we just barely caught the tail end of the sunset. I wasn’t able to capture it well having not brought a tripod, so my first slightly-blurry picture will have to suffice. It was in fact an evening of firsts. I had never actually snowboarded at Alpental, so this was my first time ever setting foot on the top of the mountain. It is a bit funny to think that I did it in June when the lifts aren’t spinning. It also marked the first evening I have ever done a beer bong on the top of a mountain. Good times were had by all.

We ended up hanging out well past the sun dipping behind the horizon. I ended up riding down with Amy and Aaron (who met us at the summit). I was the only one wearing a headlamp. While not my first time riding at night, it was a bit surreal riding down with the two of them. We came down a narrow line right next to a cliff. The snow had all melted away leaving an unpleasant looking 10ft drop to the left of us. Weaving in between each other, the light casting shadows off of the trees and reflecting off of the snow, with the sheer drop off to our left, the ride down was thrilling.

Again after a bit of bushwhacking and stream crossing, we were back at the parking lot. Not a bad way to spend a Wednesday evening!

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