With so many options of outdoor activities here in Washington, how does a family decide to start the Holiday season? There is a hike along the I-90 corridor with classics like Mt. Si or Franklin Falls. A day on fresh pow at one of the ski resorts. Sledding or tubing followed by hot chocolate. All good options, but this family decided to invite some of our favorite people on an overnight excursion into the mountains, and sleep in a backcountry cabin.
Planning for this trip had begun over a month ago, and we were pretty excited to get out with some good people. As the day approached and we prepped for our trip, we watched the weather closely. We had been enjoying some pretty nice days here in the NW. While the days had remained cool, we had sunshine, which is always welcome in December. But clear skies also means less snow in the mountains.
The plan had been to snowshoe up to a cabin on the Mt. Tahoma Trails system (MTTA) and stay overnight. The MTTA system has four huts that can be rented out for just $15 a person per night. A super reasonable rate for a family of 6. Each hut is outfitted with a everything you need for a comfortable stay. A propane stove for heat, a fully stocked kitchen for cooking your favorite meals, comfy couches, and sleeping areas. The only packing you need to do is food, a sleeping bag and personal items.
Continuing to check the weather as we packed, we realized that the rain was finally returning, and we were in for a wet walk. The forecast wasn’t calling for temps low enough to turn all that wet into snow. But, we had high hopes, and rain jackets, so we loaded our packs and snowshoes in the truck and set off.
Meeting our friends at the trailhead, we put on our rain gear, strapped our packs on our backs, and headed up hill for 4 miles.
Finally reaching the cabin at the top of the hill, we climbed the stairs, and shed our wet outer layers. As we entered the cabin we were surprised to be greeted by one of the ski patrol volunteers and an already warm fire. After hanging up our jackets, and slipping on some warm, comfy clothes, the stove was quickly lit, and mugs of steaming hot chocolate were passed around.
The rest of the evening was spent plaing card games, eating a mexican feast and sharing laughter over sips of fireball and whiskey (for the adults only, of course). The littlest ones slowly succumbed to the pull of sleep as the night wore on, and there was a sense of awe in the teenagers eyes as they listened to stories of climbing peaks, and travel to far off places. It felt good to discuss big dreams and goals, knowing that we were instilling a sense of adventure into their minds.
The next morning we woke to a beautiful fresh blanket of snow and bright sun rays breaking through the clouds. It didn’t take long for the boys to get their snow gear on and head out for some sled runs down the nearby hill. As the rest of us ate pancakes and bacon, and began cleaning up, the littles played with games, and enjoyed helping with chores.
Soon it was time to head back down the hill, much to everyone’s dismay. As we stepped out the door we were greeted with a chilly gust of wind. Quickly we strapped on our snowshoes, loaded the sleds with gear, and started towards the cars. As we journeyed down the sun came out again, and the littles enjoyed being pulled along. We quickly decided this was a trip worth repeating. New yearly tradition? I think so!