Day Six – 1/17-18, Saddle Mountain

We currently live in my adopted hometown, Astoria, OR (I don’t think Coast Guard brats really have hometowns). Astoria is located in Clatsop County, the most northwestern county of the state.
Astoria has an official elevation of 23ft. You can see the Columbia River from most of town and if you’re located on the hill you can see the waves crash in the Pacific Ocean.
In short, we live at sea level.

You may have heard that winter finally decided to show up. 80 inches of snow has fallen at Mt. Hood Meadows in the past five days. We got snow in Astoria. Highway 30 was requiring chains. Winter had arrived and it was wonderful.
We both caught the Powder Flu and decide to take off to ski Saddle Mountain.


We called Nick and left messages urging him to wake up. Days before we had been talking about skiing the Coast Range and now was our chance!


We could not believe how much snow there was! Easily double what I was expecting, if not more. Jamie, our Subaru Outback, is awesome and D had so much fun driving up to the trail head. Not long after we arrived, I saw headlights coming towards us.
“Is that Nick?”
“I don’t know, but it’s definitely a Subaru!”
Having grown up on Subarus, I can spot them immediately. And yes, it was Nick. We couldn’t believe how quickly he got there!


After breaking out the Vortex, we finished getting our gear together.



Saddle Mountain Summit Trail, on skis!
We dubbed ourselves the Clatsop County Snow Riders Association and headed into the mountain. I couldn’t believe we were in Clatsop County! It was so snowy and wonderful and mountainy and I was in love. If we could always ski in the county it’d make winters a whole lot cheaper! (Mt. St. Helens, the closest real place to ski, is 2 hours away.)

I don’t have any photos of the trip up because I was busy having my tush handed to me by the mountain. Man, I cannot wait until I’m in shape! Skinning up a mountain is such a great workout and I’m so excited to be doing it every day starting in two weeks. The boys got some GoPro footage, but I’m solely a photo girl and let Daryl deal with the video. If we had any footage worth sharing I’ll post it later.
Daryl brought his “rock skis” since there was no base.  Unfortunately he realized after we got to the trail head that the skins for his rock skis were back at the house.  Nick and I were on our boards and D carried his skis on his back while post-holing to his knees most of the hike up, with a few waist deep spots around treeline.
Sadly we didn’t make it to the top. We were at treeline around 5:30pm and decided to turn around and head back to the cars. I skied and hiked down the trail while Daryl and Nick hit some pillow lines and Ozzy frolicked.  Thank goodness for headlamps, as it was definitely dark on the trail! When we got back to the car we decide we’ll wake up early the next morning and come back so we can summit and ski back to the car.


Beer Nirvana.
That’s a 250lbs bale of hops Nick is sitting on. It lives in our living room and our house smells amazing because of it.


The next morning arrived and we actually got up! I made us coffee while The Explorer packed up the SKIburban (the mountain was forecasted to get nearly a foot of snow over night so we figured we’d need a little more umpf than the Subaru could handle. Plus we long ago decided that Daryl, Nick, Ozzy, me, and all our gear do not fit well in Jamie).

We head off to the mountain and it was raining. We kept telling ourselves we were at sea level and the trail head was 1,000ft above us and it would be colder and snowing.
We get to the turn off from highway 26, drop Nick’s Subaru off, and head up the hill. It was raining and snowing and we were trying to keep the faith. We started up in 2 wheel drive and after about a mile D switched over to 4 wheel drive.


And suddenly we were stuck.
After attempting to get out using 4-low, we grab the shovels and start digging down to the pavement. The right half of the truck was on pavement and the left half was not. It was raining and we were not getting anywhere. Somewhere between shoveling and getting the chains on, Nick throws in the towel and we decide we’ll head home after we get unstuck.


An hour later we finally get ourselves turned around and are heading back to the highway.
I decided it was par for the course for Clatsop County. We can’t have nice things, nor can we have awesome winter weather.
Nick gets his car and gets stuck by a downed tree on his way back to Portland. We head home, D heads to work, and I go back to sleep.
It would’ve been awesome to summit and ski back to the car, but at least we got one of our days in the county! I never thought I’d ski so close to sea level, so I was happy!

Six days down, 94 to go!

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