"Live a good life, and in the end, it’s not the years in the life, it’s the life in the years."

Solitude & skiing

By on December 28, 2020 in Outdoor Fun with 1 Comment
An early morning mix of fog and sun at Echo Ridge creates an eerie but private world for a skier.

Even in the ‘empty nester’ years, it’s fun to strap on skis or snowshoes for a trek in the snowy wonderland

Story by Linda Reid 

Photos by Ken Reid

This is our fifth winter living in East Wenatchee, and we welcome whatever it brings. 

As we have already discovered, no two winters are exactly alike, but every one so far has gifted us with countless opportunities to spend time in the snow with either cross-country skis or snowshoes strapped onto our feet. 

About 40 years ago my husband Ken suggested taking up cross-country skiing. I had been a downhill skier in my teens, so I immediately embraced the idea. 

We signed up with REI for what turned out to be a grueling all-day class up at Stevens Pass. Despite that experience, we rented skis a few times that winter, and by the end of the season, we purchased our own equipment. 

The next winter we were confident enough to introduce our kids (ages 5 and 8) to this new sport. They took to it like sled dogs running the Iditarod, and from then on, many winter weekends found us up in the Cascades skiing the trails, picnicking in the snow, and occasionally getting a little lost. 

The Lake Wenatchee and Leavenworth areas became favorite family winter playgrounds for us, even when our kids were in their teens. 

Fast forward to our empty nester years. We got new boots, poles and bindings and continued to enjoy our same Trek skis. 

Best of all, we discovered a new place to ski, with which we fell in love. Our feelings for this place have only become more passionate over the decades, and now it only takes us a little over an hour from our front door to drive up to Echo Ridge. 

Linda finds solitude and sunshine on a favorite Echo Ridge snowshoe trail.

We suspect it must be somewhat of a secret because it never feels crowded. We can always find a sense of solitude there. 

Echo Ridge is only 10 miles from the town of Chelan but has an average elevation of 3,600 feet. The forest service has created more than 25 miles of trails laid out over rolling hills circling around the ridge tops. 

The names alone entice you to explore these trails: Windsinger, Zippity Do Da, Whoop-Di-Do and No-Where to Hide. 

It has been well-designed to provide trails for multiple skill levels. Under the jurisdiction of the Chelan Ranger District of the U.S. Forest Service, it is operated by the Lake Chelan Nordic Club. 

The views are spectacular, the fee is only $10 for the day, and kids under 17 ski for free. We have found that the snow is usually plentiful (and often perfect), the trails are regularly groomed (for skate and classic skiing), and most often the sun is reliably shining because it is above the clouds that often cover the Lake Chelan Valley in the winter. 

Over our four-plus decades of skiing, we have enjoyed skiing in places from Mount Baker to Mount Bachelor, around the Mazama/Sun Mountain area, in the Swiss Alps and on the Olympic cross-country course near Whistler, B.C. 

However, we have not found any place that surpasses Echo Ridge.

About 20 years ago, Ken had another winter activity idea. He thought we should also take up snowshoeing. 

There were some places over the years that we had tried, but just didn’t lend themselves to skiing: Mount Rainier and Hurricane Ridge (too steep), Salmon la Sac (snow too deep), or Mission Ridge (no cross country ski trails). 

So, I agreed to give it a try. At first, I was not much of a fan. It felt like too much work, trudging through the snow instead of gliding on top of it. It turned out that it was an acquired taste for me. One thing that won me over was when we found the snowshoe trails up at Echo Ridge. 

Our favorite one is called The Shoe. 

At the trailhead you start off on a narrow spur pathway in the trees, but in less than a half mile you break out onto a wide trail with a panoramic view that is as close to a “winter wonderland” as you can possibly find. 

It is a blessing that I got hooked on snowshoeing because in 2017 Ken had a fall while we were skiing, which eventually led to shoulder surgery. He now feels more comfortable on snowshoes. (It is said that “anyone who can walk can snowshoe.”) 

We invested in new snowshoes last year when the straps started to fray. 

So, we are ready to enjoy Echo Ridge as well as the Horan Nature Area, Lincoln Rock State Park, and our favorite parts of the Apple Capital Loop Trail when snow sufficiently accumulates. We will likely spend a little time on our skis as well. 

The winter seasons of our life have been immeasurably enriched by our “up close and personal” relationship with our natural environment. 

We may move a little slower each year and feel a few more aches and pains after our outings, but until we are no longer able to bend over and strap on our snowshoes we will continue to be active participants as we seek to keep living “the good life.”

Ken and Linda are active seniors who love to share what they have found to be life-giving and healthy for them. For more information about Echo Ridge, including detailed trail maps and snow/grooming reports, go to Lake Chelan Nordic Club’s web site at: www.lakechelannordic.org. 

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  1. Darlene selland says:

    Love this article! Makes me want to head to eastern Washington in the winter!

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