Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Japanese Trees - 12.26.2020

There is nothing sweeter in the outdoors than exploring somewhere new. Or at least that was our excuse as we drove to, past, and beyond the new snow and deep base of Turnagain for the thinner and worse snowpack of Summit. 

True to our mission, none of us had skied the Japanese Trees before and had for location information a sentence from an avalanche observation. But, as we pulled into the parking lot next to Summit Lake and peered into the bushes we could see skintrack disappearing across the road. Sweet success! Knowing Summit's track record as the place to have your car broken into, we side-eyed the unassuming yuppies in the parking lot then played Frogger across the icy road.

Tom wondering how many laps of stinging horizontal snow are tolerable.

Climbing thru the open glades did indeed feel a bit like the birch forests of Japan. Like those past trips to the Land of The Rising Sun, the new zone closer to home still brought the same enhanced sensation only new experiences can bring - a sharpening of the senses like a microscope coming into focus.

After a few laps the snow tapered off and a hint of sun appeared to the south.

We used the first laps to optimize our ascents and winding descents from alder glades through the birch trees to the road. As the clouds retreated north the snow was painted with a subtle peach glaze - nothing our consumer cameras could capture, but focused in our eyes by the experience of the new.
Photo Nyssa Landres

With each lap the pastel coloring from the midwinter sunlight filtering north from Seward seemed to improve. 

Photo Nyssa Landres

As did our appreciation for it.


By our fifth lap the daylight tank was running low. 


It was time for Nyssa to whip out the 30 minute lap rule - courtesy of Dave Bass - laps take 30 minutes. 32 minutes after beginning the climb for the last lap we were ripping our skins for the party ski to the car.

Back at the parking lot, it wasn't even dark yet, and we were left with one persistent question: did we ski the Japanese Trees, or were those the Japanese Alders?

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