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A group of old friends set off on a weekend of backcountry snowshoeing in the magnificent North Cascades of Washington State. As the snow falls (and falls), they rediscover their shared appreciation for unscripted adventure and renew deep connections.

I am old enough to have experienced the profound benefit of long friendships.

The arc of a lifetime, when shared with folks who are special to you, is in some way measured and calibrated by these interactions. Things change.

A cadre of

these old friends have made it a habit to join me on a winter outing each year,

having long ago discovered a mutual appreciation for winter backpacking and

snow camping, either on cross-country skis or snowshoes (the choice determined

by both conditions and ambitions). An annual excursion along these lines had

become a custom, an obligatory rite of winter, a sacred duty.

These fellows

are all of an adventurous bent, easy-going and possessed of the requisite

idiosyncrasies to keep things interesting and conversation scintillating.

And so it was that after many years of these winter forays, we found ourselves facing a familiar quandary: We had finagled a weekend where our party of five could all get away and now we had to choose a destination. As usual, this involved an in-depth strategic planning session at Boundary Bay Brewery. On this occasion, the session lasted even longer than usual.

We thought about Rainier (too far to drive), the Wells Creek Road (not enough elevation to insure good snow) and a variety of other potential destinations, both familiar and unknown. Finally, we settled on White Salmon Creek, accessed by snowshoeing the White Salmon Road off of the Mt. Baker Highway. At the time, none of us had been out that way before, and the prospect of enjoying the winter alpenglow on Mt. Shuksan was tantalizing. After copious pondering and much poring over topo maps, a plan began to take shape…

  “No man can live this life and emerge unchanged. He will carry, however faint, the imprint of the desert, the brand which marks the nomad; and he will have within him the yearning to return, weak or insistent according to his nature. For this cruel land can cast a spell which no temperate clime can match.” — Wilfred Thesiger, 1959

  “No man can live this life and emerge unchanged. He will carry, however faint, the imprint of the desert, the brand which marks the nomad; and he will have within him the yearning to return, weak or insistent according to his nature. For this cruel land can cast a spell which no temperate clime can match.” — Wilfred Thesiger, 1959

" dokanewfi kjiuqehyrb ",

' gregrt '

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  “No man can live this life and emerge unchanged. He will carry, however faint, the imprint of the desert, the brand which marks the nomad; and he will have within him the yearning to return, weak or insistent according to his nature. For this cruel land can cast a spell which no temperate clime can match.” — Wilfred Thesiger, 1959 

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