Snow Day Snow Angel
We've had a bit of snow here recently in the PACNORWEST, and I've been itching to get out and use the snowshoes I got for Christmas. On the holiday last Monday, a bunch of guys from my wardroom and I planned to go to Mount Rainier to do some snowshoeing and sledding. Unfortunately, there was too much snow and they road up to Paradise remained closed that day. Instead, we decided to go to The Summit at Snoqualmie, commonly referred to as simply "Snoqualmie."
I had no idea how big Snoqualmie is. For some reason, I was thinking Snoqualmie would just have one central parking lot where we all pile out and head off to the ski slopes or to the tubing area or to the snowshoeing area.
The place is ginormous and spread out across three exits off I-90 (exits 52, 53, and 54). I'm glad I went with one of my shipmates who had been there before and led us directly to the Nordic center to rent snowshoes, because I never would have found it otherwise. Well, I suppose if I was going by myself, I probably would have done more research on their website before driving up there. The website clearly gives directions telling you which exit to use for which part of the resort you want to visit, and they have interactive maps of the place (click here for the maps).
Let me just say up front that I'm really glad we went. I took my boys, and we had a great time. Now that I've been there once though, there are a few things I learned and probably would have done differently. Our plan was first to go snowshoeing with the guys from my wardroom, and then head over to the tubing area, and it was a pretty good line-up of activities for our snow-fun day.
My boys in front of the Nordic rental center at Snoqualmie.
We got off I-90 at Exit 54 around 9:30-ish and got one of the last parking spots way in the back-forty of a HUGE parking lot. We trudged through the parking lot snow and across the ski resort to the Nordic center where they rent snowshoes. They DO have kid / youth-size snowshoes to rent there.
Traditional Blunoz family foot photo.
(Minus LW at home enjoying a day of peace and quiet.)
However, comparing the price I paid for rentals versus the price of new showshoes on the internet, if my kids used them TWICE it would have been more cost effective to have just bought them. Plus, the rentals at the Nordic center don't come with poles. They don't have any collapsible or kid-sized poles. Most of the snowshoes for sale online come with poles. Given the snow that dumped around our house this week and the 3 snow days the boys had off of school, I'm sure they would have used them just to walk around outside the house this week.
Leaving the parking lot, heading out on the trail.
If I had gone alone, then I probably would have sunk another chunk of change into the trail passes to use the trails there around the Nordic center. Luckily, going with someone who's been there before, he took us to a different area that was free and didn't require a trail pass. It was back two exits off of Exit 52 at the northern end of the Alpenthal area, and it took some time back-tracking through the snowy roads to go there after we had rented our snowshoes. If we had just bought our own snowshoes, then we could have gone directly there instead of going to the rental center. Shoulda coulda woulda.
My boys on the trail with a cross-country skier passing by.
The trail we went on was well defined due to heavy use, but I never saw any clear trail markers on the trees to guide me if I had been the first person out there for the day. There were a lot of cross country skiers and snowshoers out on the trail.
The boys and I did the snowshoeing thing for a little over an hour. Then we got back in the car and headed down to the "central" area of Snoqualmie where the tubing area is located. We ate lunch at the little grill / snack bar at the tubing area. Lemme tell ya... It's pretty bad when your 10 year old son claims the prices are "highway robbery." Considering he never actually pays for any of our meals, I was surprised he even noticed. As for me, it gave me flashbacks to Disney - both in price and quality of food and service.
Note to Self: Next time, pack a lunch.
The boys at the entrance to the tubing area.
They sell tickets for the tubing area in 2-hour blocks. We bought tickets for the 1:30 to 3:30 slot. After eating our lunch, we actually started tubing about 2 p.m., so we were on the tubing runs for an hour and a half. In that time, I think we probably flew down the hill about 7 times.
My youngest son taking off down the hill.
My youngest son was dragging his feet and said he didn't want to go tubing. I think he was just cold and needed some time to warm up in the snack bar area. When he got to the bottom of the hill his first time, he bounced up and down with glee, saying, "Again! Again!"
My youngest son on the tow line back to the top.
They DO have a tow-line that will tow you back up the hill on your tube, but the line of people waiting to get on the tow line was pretty long. So the first 4 times, we just walked back up the hill. (See the people on the right side of the picture above walking up alongside the tow line). THAT was quite a workout. ESPECIALLY the two times my youngest son's hand slipped, he let go of his tube, and it went flying back down to the bottom of the hill. So I actually got to climb the hill 6 times after walking back down to get his tube and bring it back up.
Going that fast down the hill on the tube, it was hard to keep my eyes open with the snow pelting me in the face.
Note to self: Next time, bring ski goggles.