The Sunrises of High Camp
January 5th, 2015 in Trips, Trails, & Tours
I love skinning up Mac’s Express in the pre-dawn dark. Where Mac’s meets Low Road there is enough of a clearing to get glimpses of stars through the trees. I keep going straight uphill on Cliff Hanger. At Inspiration View I get my first taste of the sunrise, a band of color to the east. As I continue on it keeps getting better as my view expands behind me. From Stegosaurus Rock I cut cross-country to the top of the glades on McCue Ridge. It is here that I face the sunrise fully and stop moving for the first time since leaving camp. As my breath slows I remove my skins, lock down my boots, take a deep breath and ski towards the sun on pink hued snow.
High Camp’s position east of the Cascade crest provides us with fabulous views of the sunrise, often rising right out of the desert of eastern Washington. The Spence family was at High Camp for New Years and on their last morning they headed out High Country Trail to catch the dramatic colors of the sunrise. Madeline, their eldest daughter, told me, “It’s the perfect way to end a trip, you get out early to watch the sunrise and then go back to your cabin and pack up your stuff.”
Previous generations of High Camp hosts have told me that before the hot tub and sauna, they had much of the afternoon to ski. As long as I’ve worked at camp I’ve had to tend our facilities at least every hour, meaning that skiing much more than a lap or two on Wild Bill Hill is not feasible in the afternoon. To quench my desire to go for longer skis I’ve always had to wake up early, when the camp is quiet and the guests are sleeping. I’m grateful for this pressure to get out early because its afforded me countless amazing sunrises. I can’t imagine a better way to start a work day than to behold a thing of beauty before skiing down to camp.