On February 10th, Washington Wild teamed up with Gus Bekker from El Sendero Backcountry Ski and Snowshoe Club to lead a group ranging from beginners to experts on a snowshoe outing in the beautiful Wenatchee National Forest.
El Sendero is a recreation group whose mission aligns with Washington Wild’s and has collaborated on several wild lands and waters campaigns. According to the El Sendero website:
“El Sendero represents winter backcountry recreationists by advocating for the creation, preservation, and management of non-motorized winter areas on public lands. We work to preserve backcountry areas for quiet human-powered use, promote winter backcountry safety and ethics, and cooperatively resolve conflicts among backcountry users.”
Eight of us “west-siders” drove 90+ miles (2 hours from Seattle) to the Tronsen non-motorized winter recreation area in Cle Elum. It was an easy drive with good roads and signs to follow. Our snowshoe trip gave us an opportunity to see for ourselves how winter recreation is enhanced by protecting our wildlands. The Tronsen area is unique, as it is an entirely non-motorized section of the Wenatchee National Forest. Snowshoers and cross-country skiers can admire the winter landscape without the high-speed snowmobile traffic found in most winter recreation areas. The fact that the Tronsen area is non-motorized keeps the pristine landscape from eroding so it is especially navigable for those who want to take their time exploring Washington’s wild areas on-foot.
THE TEAM (Photo: Gus)
On this outing, Washington Wild and El Sendero were joined by:
- Gus, Trip Leader for El Sendero
- Nancy, Washington Wild Interim Executive Director
- Roger, Washington Wild Board President
- Hamed, Washington Wild Board Member
- Peter and Wendelyn
- Max, Washington Wild volunteer
- Alexia, Washington Wild Intern
Of the group, about half of us were snowshoeing for our very first time that day, including myself!
We were told to come prepared with items like an extra coat to wear during lunch, to avoid wearing cotton, and to dress in layers.
As it was my first such outing, I made do with what I had in my closet. Here’s what I ended up wearing:
-Under Armour leggings (1st layer)
-Slim sweatpants (2nd layer)
-Water resistant cargo hiking pants (3rd layer)
-Cotton socks topped with thrift store Sorel snow boots (the kind that come with a removable liner)
-Cotton thermal (1st layer)
-Cotton hoodie sweatshirt (2nd layer)
-Fleece jacket (3rd layer)
-Snowshoes and ski poles (rented from El Sendero)
-*Ski jacket with liner (4th layer)
-*Ski jacket (5th layer)
(*Items that I didn’t end up wearing!)
It just so happened that the weather was moderate and very sunny, so most of us that remembered to wear gloves took them off along with several layers of clothes. The unexpected sunshine required us to wear often-forgotten sunglasses or baseball hats.
The snowshoe hike took us along a trail through a meadow and then our group dared to venture off-trail and ascend a steep, tree-covered hill. The snow wasn’t packed like it had been on the regularly traveled trails we’d been on. This portion was especially exciting and challenging! To establish a trail that others could follow, we all snowshoed in a single file line up the snowy hill while navigating around the lush evergreen trees along the way.
We had lunch in front of a great view, as promised by Gus. Some of us brought foam pads to sit on while eating, while others made do with backpacks. One person tucked his fleece into a plastic bag to keep his backside dry and warm – which I thought was a great idea! After lunch, we continued our snow shoe outing down the hill and eventually we circled back to the start of our journey. Thanks to El Sendero and Washington Wild, we experienced just how much fun winter recreation can be!
Thanks to such a high-spirited and ambitious group, it was a fun and inspiring scenic adventure that Washington Wild and El Sendero hope to make an annual event!
Alexia Lee is Washington Wild’s newest intern. Hailing from Bellevue, WA, she is in the process of completing two degrees (B.S. in Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology & B.A. in Creative Writing) at the University of Washington.