The Winters of the Pacific Northwest can be tough to get through for city dwellers. The combination of short days and cloudy skies can lead one to spend too much time inside, and way too much time on screens. But those in the outdoor community know that one way to make the best of the winter season is to get out and play in the snow!
So this winter, Y.E.T.I. has been committed to getting the youth in our community outside to experience all that the snowy mountains have to offer. While Seattleites can count themselves lucky for their proximity to snowy peaks, getting out there still remains a challenging endeavor for many youth in South King County.
At Y.E.T.I, we do all we can to make a day out in the snow a reasonable weekend event for youth by offering transportation, proper clothing, food, snowshoes, and local knowledge as a part of our programs. We’ve successfully run 2 snowshoe outings at Snoqualmie pass this winter and have plenty more on the calendar!
Highline Environmental Science Club – Gold Creek Pond
Highline Highschool Environmental Science Club students signed up for a Y.E.T.I. snowshoeing program on Jan 22 this year. After meeting the students at a nearby park, sizing up boots and jackets for everyone, and getting equipped with our snowshoes, the students were off in the Y.E.T.I. van to snowshoe around Gold Creek Pond.
The weather seemed to be cooperating with us as the sun poked out between the clouds at various times on our drive up to Snoqualmie pass, giving us glimpses of the white covered peaks and hills that surround the Snoqualmie Valley. The Environmental Science students got a live look at how the winter snowpack melts and runs down the various waterways to feed the Snoqualmie River– an important spawning place for Salmon.
Once at the parking lot, students strapped on snowshoes and we all circled around a map of the area. Looking at the map, we pointed out the different landmarks and also talked about the migration patterns of many animals. We pointed out the infrastructure incorporated into I-90 to assist in migration and the impacts that an interstate highway can have on the landscape.
The Students started on the track around Gold Creek Pond and stopped to take in the stunning views of the surrounding landscape. The sun had fully emerged from the clouds and we all sat on a snowy outcropping in the middle of the lake to soak up the warmth. We discussed how the pond was created through the extraction of resources to build I – 90 and the restoration efforts currently underway in the area.
On the road back to Seattle, many of the students dozed off as the van gently rocked them to sleep. Y.E.T.I. is already working to plan another outing to offer these motivated and environmentally conscious students an opportunity to see some of the ecological issues facing our natural spaces up close and personal!
Snowshoeing Commonwealth Basin
Our snowshoe trip on Jan 30th filled weeks ahead of time. Many of our regular and returning Y.E.T.I. youth were ready to escape the city for some fun and adventure in the snow and a few students who were new to Y.E.T.I. programs joined in as well!
Listening to pop radio in the Y.E.T.I. van, the rain gradually yielded to snow as we neared the crest of the Cascade Mountains. After finding parking at the bustling ski resort, we donned snowshoes, put the ski lifts to our backs, and marched off into the snowy pine forest of the commonwealth basin. It only took us 5 minutes of walking to leave the crowds behind and we only saw 2 other people the rest of the day!
Once we hit a clearing, the students eagerly went to work building 2 opposing snow forts to engage in an epic snowball fight! They spent the next hour lobbing snowballs and crashing into the opposing teams fortresses.
After both structures were destroyed, we continued the hike pointing out the different tree species that abound in the Basin. It wasn’t too long before the team identified a suitable sledding hill and created a track to slide down. It was such a wonderful sight to see everyone finding opportunity for fun and adventure anywhere we went that day.
We wrapped up the day of snowy activities and returned to the van to start our way back west to city. We did have to make an essential stop for hot cocoas to warm us up for the ride!
Y.E.T.I. prides itself on bringing resources from our community together to offer these experiences.
One giant thank you we have to give is to Mountain Madness, a premier mountain guide service who provided us access to their warm mountaineering boots to keep our students feet dry. Mountain Madness specializes in making outdoor adventure dreams happen and we are so grateful for their support! https://mountainmadness.com/