Why Winter is Special at Crater Lake

Crater Lake is one of those places that makes your jaw drop at any time of year. But visiting in winter makes it even more special to the SkiZer.

The hordes of camera-totin’ tourists are long gone, and in their place, a gorgeous coat of snow makes this spectacular place even more beautiful. Heavy snow closes the Rim Road and it becomes a trail for Nordic skiers and snowshoers.

In other words this wild place just gets wilder, and you know how much SkiZer likes it when that happens.

SkiZer spent the day skiing eight miles along the Rim Road, taking in the ever-present views of the lake. It was warm — temps were in the upper 40s — and the skiing was fantastic.

What a great way to start the Nordic ski season.

Day 4: Crater Lake

  • Distance skied: 15K
5 RimTrail
Doug Orr passes a group of snowshoers.
9c RimSki
SkjZer and Doug Orr ski along the Crater Lake Rim.
9i LakePose
Doug Orr and the SkiZer pose above the lake.
9n meadow
Doug Orr skis a meadow on the return to Rim Village.
9l Wizard
Wizard Island looks great covered in snow.

Day 5: Crater Lake Backcountry

  • Distance: 15K
  • Distance for season: 29K
Doug Orr climbs on the Rim Road
SkiZer ascends the path through a glade.
The view from the south rim.


Last Day of Winter: Still Time to Skate

It was a rough ski week in the Northwest. Torrential rain hit the mountains for several days causing avalanches and floods.

Then it got cold and froze all the soggy snow. Not exactly a great recipe for hitting the slopes — but we do what we can.

SkiZer decided the last day of winter was best spent skate-skiing. The firm snow was melting under a very spring-like sun, turning any ice into a forgiving track at Hyak, along the John Wayne Trail.

The snow was fast and fun. Onto spring skiing!

Day 35: Hyak

  • Distance skied: 28K
  • Distance for the year: 116K
SkiZer takes a break in the sunshine.
Skaters and classic Nordic skiers hit the tracks on the John Wayne Trail.



Flying High After Some Race-Day Inspiration

The SkiZer arrived for a day of skate-skiing at Cabin Creek Sno-Park feeling a little uninspired. It was a gloomy day, and the snow was crusty after a major rain storm hit late last week.

Those ski blues all changed as soon as he hit the trails. Kongsberger Ski Club was hosting the Stampede 15K Freestyle, and it was hard not to get a little pumped watching the skiers rock the course.

Conditions for skate-skiing turned out to be great — the icy, granular snow was rocket-fast — and the SkiZer completed 12K in no time. As the racers finished up, SkiZer went for another lap, flying faster this time.

Day 28: Cabin Creek

  • Distance skied: 20K
  • Distance for the year: 98K
Skiers round a turn at Cabin Creek.
Racers climb a hill on the Viking course at Cabin Creek.

Skate-Away on a Cloudy Day

We’re in a lousy high-pressure holding pattern for snow, so it seemed like a day to simply get out and get a workout in.

The SkiZer hit the Hyak Sno-Park and promptly skate-skied 22 K on some fast trails on Keechelus Lake.

It’s hard to get excited when you’re skiing next to a freeway, but that’s the price you pay for 50-minute access from Seattle. It was basic skiing, which is better than no skiing at all.

Day 26: Hyak

  • Distance skied: 22K
  • Distance for the year: 78K
A skate-skier along the groomed trail on Keechelus Lake.

Skate-Skiing is Good for a Quick Brain Break

Work, work, work.

Sometimes you need a break. After eight straight days looking at the computer screen, the SkiZer did a quick run up to Cabin Creek for some skate-skiing.

SkiZer has a love-hate thing with Cabin Creek. Loves the access, hates the crowds, and the fact that it’s right next to an interstate highway.

On this day, the access won out, and SkiZer skated away on firm trails. Bonus: No crowds on a Tuesday.

Fast, mind-clearing skiing ensued. Then it was back to Seattle for more work, but with a better attitude.

Day 25: Cabin Creek

  • Distance skied: 11K
  • Distance for the year: 56K
SkiZer skates on Mount Ozbaldy at Cabin Creek.
A meadow off the Nordic trails at Cabin Creek.

Up We Go for a Bluebird Day on Mount Ambilis

SkiZer on the climb up Mount Ambilis.

The SkiZer is back on the road for six days of ski adventuring.

First up: Mount Ambilis at the Cabin Creek Nordic trails just east of Snoqualmie Pass.

It was a cold day — just 6 degrees Fahrenheit at the start. Working hard made things better, and the SkiZer was quickly shedding clothing.

The climb has more than 2,000 vertical thrown in for fun. It’s slog up, then a cold coast down. Good views of Mount Rainier happen near the top.

The trail was in decent shape, except for the hikers who left post-holes on the groomed surface. Seriously? Ever heard of snowshoes? Maybe try them next time.

Day 15: Mount Ambilis

  • Distance skied: 15K
  • Distance for the year: 45K
Powdery snow on the trail to Mount Ambilis.
Mount Rainier peeks above the horizon during the climb of Mount Ambilis.

Blue Skies, Cold Snow: What’s Not to Like?

The Nordic trails at Mt. Bachelor are primo with fresh snow.

The day started at zero degrees Fahrenheit on the Nordic trails at Mt. Bachelor.

Skate-skiing was cold and a little slow, but you have to love a sunny day in December. The SkiZer went after it with gusto and finished a loop called Woody’s Way in fairly short order.

SkiZer stops in for skate and classic skiing.

After a warm-up with excellent coffee at the Mt. Bachelor Nordic Center lodge, he was back at it with a tour around Dutchman Flat and then another loop on Woody’s Way, this time on classic skis.

Mt. Bachelor has some of the best Nordic skiing in the Pacific Northwest, with a season that lasts from November to May. After back-to-back days on the downhill boards, it felt nice to exercise the Nordic muscles in a perfect setting.

Day 5: Mt. Bachelor Nordic

  • Distance skied: 18K
  • Distance for the year: 30K
Skiers hit Woody’s Way on Mt. Bachelor.
A skate-skier on the groomed trails of Dutchman Flat at Mt. Bachelor.