High Times on the High Road!

January 8th, 2013 in Trips, Trails, & Tours

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by Don

Often people ask me what I consider to be my favorite winter trail at High Camp. While I truly love to take my Karhu 10th Mountain skis anywhere on our trail system, and also enjoy taking the fat skis on occasional forays high into the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, my answer to their question is always the same. Simply put, I would rather tour on High Road than any other trail!

High Road is not really a road at all. In fact, High Road is one of the few existing trail names remaining from the Stark era of the 70s and 80s. Located just below the crest of McCue Ridge at the 4,500 – 5,200 foot level, the two-mile long High Road typically features outstanding snow thanks to its northeast aspect and the line of trees along the ridge that protect it from the warming rays of the sun. Opportunities for turning in the powder are frequent, although never really required in order to complete the tour.

In addition to the great views of the High Entiats and other rugged mountains far to the north, Big Jim Viewpoint is another highlight of the High Road tour. Big Jim is perhaps the most notable and rugged peak in the Chiwaukum Range. Situated acr0ss the yawning gap of Chiwaukum drainage just south and east of McCue Ridge, Big Jim sits deep in the heart of some of the wildest terrain anywhere in the Cascades. Lover’s Lookout offers another superb view of Big Jim just a few hundred yards below Big Jim Viewpoint.

I’ll never forget one very sublime moment I experienced while skiing High Road last January. It was late in the day and I was by myself. Near the top of the route, the trail travels through a corridor of trees before dramatically opening up to a majestic panorama of ridges far to the east. On that day as I skied through the corridor and out into the open, I suddenly encountered the most incredible alpine glow I have ever seen! In addition, a large full moon was hanging low in the sky above the distant ridge-line. It was truly one of the most magical moments I have ever enjoyed while skiing our trail system.