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Galbraith in ice, snowriding at Central

There Mt. Baker stood in all it’s serene and savage glory, arising above the sea and before the lookout at the top of the Evolution trail at Galbraith this weekend. There we stood in thin mountain bike gear, freezing in the biting wind, gazing out on the blanketed peak. I felt oddly torn between the bike lying at my feet and the beckoning mountain and snowriding. It is December and we’re still riding bikes down dirt trails–trails, however, slick with ice.

Riding ice-licked trails with fingers frozen so numb that it makes pulling the brakes hard, and toes stinging painfully in the cold, was definitely a new and trying experience on a bike for me. Still, the uncomfortable sensations are ones I’m not unfamiliar with; only they’re usually endured at the top of a wind-whisked, snow-cloaked summit and I’m in heavy snowboard gear.

We were joined at Galbraith by Kris Weihage, an engineer for Full Speed Ahead–FSA–and one of Billy’s best friends. Kris is more of an XC rider, and after our normal loop around Evolution, Scorpion, Mullet, The Luge and a few others he took us over to 911, a flower-dappled single track. As with exploring a mountain on a snowboard, finding new terrain on two wheels holds the tingle of a quick awakening to adventure. Still, for Billy and me XC trails are too much pedaling–we go down, not up–and after a long push back up another abandoned trail in the icy cold to ride out to Cheech and Chong, our fast conduit home, we were ready for a warm dinner and dark beers.

Billy threw the kickout behind the tree–or rather I was poorly positioned for the shot. So please accept the random blurry shot of Billy mid-jump, pre-trick. The trail is Mullet.

Sunday, Eric and I headed up to Alpental. The hill was receiving a beautiful dusting of fresh and fluffy flakes. Unfortunately, beneath it all was a hard layer of blue ice. And with no visibility, riding wasn’t fun. We decided to check out Central.

We found a bit nicer conditions at Central–some powder piles near the trees with little lips everywhere to hit while bombing down, a few things to play on in the park. The snowblowers were blasting near the pipe and a two big rollers gave us some speedy airtime.

It’s not Baker, but the view from the top of the Silver Fur Express is still stunning. And it was cold. Sixteen degrees to be exact. Day two of numb fingers and toes. At least this time it felt in tune with the environment.

Our drive home was decorated with a cold classic Seattle sunset. Tis the beginning of winter in the Northwest. There’s much more beauty and cold to come. Bundle up and get some.

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