Words provided by TJ David
After two delayed trains, we crammed into a mini van headed for Stevens Pass, Washington. Just twelve hours before we stood, tickets in hand, outside the River Rock Hostel in Columbia Falls, Montana, debating our next move. We had heard that the first big storm of the season was bellowing down on the Cascades and we only had a few hours to make a decision. Stay and wait for a train delayed in the Midwest by record breaking cold weather and possibly miss our window or straight line it to Leavenworth. The gateway to Stevens Pass, the Cascade Mountains and our dream to experience those bottomless days skiers from the Pacific Northwest always talk about.
As our group discussed the possibilities of utilizing the Empire Line our minds were already made up. Six ramblers in search of snow. Was waiting for a train really an option? Well, of course it wasn’t. However, leaving the warmth of our sleeper cars and the hot meals of the train for an eight hour plus mini van ride packed like sardines was met with reluctance. In the end, it didn’t take much convincing. So, just for a moment, we’ve traded in the comfort of the rails for the exposure of the road in order to continue our get inside the storm so that we can continue our perpetual hunt for the deep stuff.
After a quick stop at Ace Hardware and a long shuttle ride to the car rental with Greg Fortin from Glacier Adventure Guides, we were on our way. Forty dollar chains in hand, headed into the heart of two national forests, Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie and Wenatchee and the eye of the storm. Would the beautiful refuge of silver and subalpine fur trees provide us enough shelter to weather the storm? Would we make it?