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Skiing photos: Waptus River, Salmon la Sac, Wenatchee National Forest, Washington
Turns All Year: Previous Home Page Galleries
This is a gallery of Wenatchee National Forest cross-country skiing photos which appeared on the Turns All Year home page in the past. Thumbnail images on this page can be clicked to view the full-sized photos, and lead into a slide show sequence for the gallery. The photos are from a January backcountry cross-country skiing trip along the Waptus River trail near Salmon la Sac, in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness of the Wenatchee National Forest, Washington.
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Turns All Year CD-ROM

The complete version of this photo gallery is now available on Turns All Year CD-ROM. Below you can view thumbnail photos from this gallery.

Turns All Year CD-ROM contains over 180 photo galleries, containing more than 3200 full-sized photos, from backcountry skiing and snowboarding trips in the Pacific Northwest.

from January 24, 2005:
Waptus River, Salmon la Sac, Alpine Lakes Wilderness,
Wenatchee National Forest, Washington, January 14, 2005

Cle Elum River at Salmon la Sac
Cle Elum River
at Salmon la Sac
Skiing the beginning of the Waptus River trail
Skiing the beginning of
the Waptus River trail
Big trees along the Waptus River trail
Big trees along the
Waptus River trail
Cross-country skiing along the Waptus River trail
Cross-country skiing along
the Waptus River trail
Approaching the trail's high point
Approaching the
trail's high point
Nearing the trail's high point
Nearing the trail's high point
Skiing the flats by the Waptus River
Skiing the flats by
the Waptus River
Cross-country skiing, Waptus River trail
Cross-country skiing,
Waptus River trail
Big trees along the Waptus River trail
Big trees along the
Waptus River trail
Vigorous cold
Vigorous cold
Hour Creek
Hour Creek
Returning along the Waptus River trail
Returning along the
Waptus River trail
Cross-country skiing speed thrills
Cross-country skiing
speed thrills
First tracks on corduroy
First tracks on corduroy
Cle Elum River sunset reflections
  Cle Elum River
sunset reflections

Photos by Charles Wiley and Charles Eldridge

Backcountry skiing trip report:
January 14, 2005, Waptus River, Salmon la Sac, Alpine Lakes Wilderness, Washington
Wanting to ski, but not wanting to deal with the high avalanche danger right now, I had been scouring my brain for a tour that would have enough snow to be fun but wasn't all logging road and clear cut. It's tough right now to think of such a place. Most of the forested places to which I would normally go don't seem to have enough snow to make them fun. My mind kept returning to the Polallie Ridge - Waptus River area out of Salmon la Sac, so when I found a gullible partner in CharlesW, we made plans to try skiing the Waptus River trail, which runs up the river's valley from Salmon la Sac to Waptus Lake, 9 miles away.
    On this weekday morning there were just a few s-mobiles at the snopark, and we were quickly into non-motorized territory as we crossed the bridge over the Cle Elum River into the campground area, which is reserved for non-motorized winter sports. The trailhead is for three trails: Cooper River trail, Polallie Ridge trail, and Waptus River trail. Very shortly they each go their own way, and with the cold powdery snow we soon had to skin up as our fishscale skis couldn't climb the gentle grade of the Waptus River trail.
    The snowpack seemed to have improved a bit since Daniel's Polallie Ridge report from last weekend. There appeared to be a few inches of new snow (lots of graupel) over what must have been Daniel's 12" of powder, now denser but still loose. Under that was the rain crust, and then just a few inches of snow to the ground. Especially in open areas, the snow under the crust had become large grained and crumbly. Farther along the trail the snow became a little deeper - maybe 2 feet total.
    The trail climbed slowly for about 500 vf, entering the Alpine Lakes Wilderness Area and crossing little ridges to a high point, where it descended slowly about the same amount to reach the Waptus River. Previous showshoers had packed a nice track on part of the trail. We de-skinned at the high point and had some fun glides down the trail; there was enough snowpack that we could kill speed by getting out of the track into the deeper snow for tight turns of the trail. The forest through which the trail winds is nice, and it was interesting to see the transition from open forest to dense jungle as the aspect became more northerly.
    Once to the Waptus River, the terrain was very flat and provided for great kick and glide on the fast snow. We turned around at Hour Creek, which looked like it would take two winter's worth of snow before becoming bridged. After skiing back along the flat part, we skied over the the bank of the Waptus River for a break. We didn't have a thermometer, but it was quite cold (mid-teens?) and didn't take very long before we wanted to get moving and generate some heat. We skinned back up to the high point, then de-skinned for the glide back down. Some of the older tracks showed us a more direct way back to the campground road, so we took that and avoided the little trail ups which are so much work with the waxless skis in cold snow. When we got back to the campground road, we found that it had been freshly groomed in preparation for the weekend - we got first tracks! Just before we got back to the car, two FS employees on s-mobiles stopped to talk to CharlesW. They had been up the road to Fish Lake looking for evidence of s-mobiles crossing into the Alpine Lakes Wilderness Area. Didn't get a report on what they found, though.
    This little tour turned out as well as I had hoped, and much better than I had feared. It goes through nice forest, and quickly gets one away from the sounds and smells of the motorized crowd. It is even possible to find a few low-angle turns along the way.
   Charles

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