Trip Report    

Winter Scramble - Blowdown Mountain

A pedestrian venue made quite challenging (and beautiful) by recent storms. A great workout with lots of deep snow wallowing (even in snowshoes).

  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • The Little Si parking lot was unplowed, with parking marginal for low clearance vehicles.  The ground was snow covered (to varying degrees) from the cars.  Snowshoes required above ~3200’.  Brought but did not use micro-spikes.

We’d originally planned a trip to the Olympics, but with ice and snow covered highways a closer venue seemed appropriate.  Even the short drive to North Bend had its challenges plus substantial snow in the Little Si parking lot, yet the forecast was for perfect conditions: clear and cold.

Broken trail in the snow ended at the Boulder Garden Trail stone steps.  We donned snowshoes just below the main trail junction at ~3200’ (the Old Si trail was completely obscured in a number of places with substantial drifts).  It was a winter wonderland at the vine maple just below the upper main trail junction:


After a quick sun-suffused break just east of the Haystack (at the bench) we were soon on our way towards Blowdown Mountain.  At the ~3800’ logging road turnoff the snow depth really started ramping up (an understatement):


Temperatures were incredibly cold in this section (teens?), possibly due to the shade and intermittent winds (some of us had several puffy jackets on but were still chilled).  Yet nature had a warming solution for us, wallowing! From here to the summit of Blowdown the lead person breaking trail was engaged in the fine art of snow swimming (in which staying warm is not a problem).  Usually you could probe a line with more secure footing in the untracked snow, yet all too often an unseen tree well would pitch you over into waist/chest deep powder snow.  As we took turns cycling through the lead position, each of us were alternately very warm (and draining energy reserves at a prodigious rate) while wishing were were out of the lead position, followed by being chilled and glad to be out of the lead position (while your next turn at the front ominously approached).  All of us were wishing for a larger party size than the six of us.

Heading east from Blowdown (along the ridge crest) the going was much easier (possibly due to high winds limiting the snow accumulation).  The vistas afforded by the clearing/low spot on the ridge at ~4300’ was an ideal location to re-evaluate the remainder of our day:



Although Dixie beckoned to us a short distance away (our original destination), the howling winds, low temperatures, waning energy reserves, and (most importantly) the potential for more deep snow led to our group decision to turn around at 1:30pm.

Near the summit of Blowdown we found a great lunch spot for sun basking in calm wind conditions.  Following a leisurely lunch we were soon (2:30pm) making great time towards the cars on our hard won track and arrived just after sunset (5pm) without needing to don headlamps.

On the way down we encountered this unusual perspective of the Haystack:


A great day in the mountains (especially so after being cooped up by recent inclement weather) and a great workout at ~10 miles/~5000’ gain.  An ascent of 6 hours, a descent of 2.5 hours (the difference was snow swimming at its finest ;), with a leisurely hour for lunch.   Photos from this and other trips to this venue can be seen here.