Doerte skating on the groomed course. There were 4 to 6 inches of new snow.
The Hog Loppet
Okay! One more time.
What is the Hog Loppet? It is Swedish for "citizen's high country ski trek".
It is a high traverse from the top of Mission Ridge Ski Area to Blewett Pass, covering 30 kilometers. This was the 18th annual cross-country ski event, and this year there were over 500 skiers participating in spite of the winter conditions. This 21-mile event is not a race but a Hog Loppet, where the only idea is have fun and finish.
We all met at the Wenatchee Convention Center where there is ample parking. We then boarded the big buses to take us up to Mission Ridge Ski Area. There we picked up our race packets, had breakfast, coffee, and did other pre-race preparations. We saw many of our Snoqualmie Pass ski friends.
The route begins after two chairlift rides from the base area. It was quite a site to see all the skinny skis hanging from the chairs. Many Nordic skiers had a hard time getting off the lifts so the ski patrol was there to assist those that fell.
The route is up and down for the first 7 miles, then generally level for the next 7 miles, and then the last 7 miles there is a long descent to 4100 foot Blewett Pass. Along the way, there were three aid stations with snacks, oranges, apples, water, Gatorade, hot chocolate, mm's, and emergency equipment.
This year the normally spectacular views were blocked by clouds and snowfall. The winter conditions blocked the views or Mount Rainier, the Columbia River, and Mount Stuart. The top of Mission Ridge was very cold and windy, so we immediately moved on to the trail. We took off on a long downhill, following the ridge, eager to get into the trees. Volunteers were positioned strategically to help us turn the right way and stay on course. Once we left the ski area, the route was mostly groomed complete with a track for most of the way.
A few sections in the beginning that could be called backcountry with expert descents. It was fun to watch the various styles of Nordic skiers navigate the new fluffy powder better suited to telemark skis. We had many up and downs and crossed several tempting bowls, causing many crashes! Traffic was heavy since the skiers were not spread out yet. We did see a few telemarkers, and a couple of Randonee skiers. They definitely had the advantage in the ungroomed sections. But I felt for them on the flats. After a long uphill we arrived at the first rest stop.
Doerte and I enjoyed oranges, apples, cookies and m & mís and Gatorade. There was every type of ski imaginable with the exception of Alpine! Skate, Classic, Backcountry, plastic boots, leather boots, no edges, edged, telemark, and randonee. The equipment emphasis was on three pin, leather boots, and metal edges. One veteran told Doerte that the Hog Loppet was known for the wide variety of older equipment.
The snow continued to fall throughout the morning, and finally began to taper off a bit in the afternoon.
The groomed trail was a real pleasure! The downhills were exhilarating, and during the uphills we just did the best we could. As the route flattened out we were able to do more skating. There were many tempting glades of powder pillows to ski, but we stayed on course. Woohoo, we arrived at Haney Meadows and the second rest stop!
Haney Meadows is a beautiful place with many meadows and glades that would make great ski runs if it were not for the snow machines that frequent the area. Since it is east of the Cascade Crest, the snow is very light. Haney Meadows is also the location of a historic old Cabin.
The Forest Service was nice enough to keep the snowmobilers away from Haney Meadows during the Hog Loppet. We saw our local Wenatchee National Forest Ranger Todd Stiles, and had a nice visit with him. The WAC and other Snoqualmie Pass Clubs are working with the Wenatchee National Forest on several projects.
After a short rest, we started to ski to the finish! After three miles of level trail we began the exciting 2 mile fast descent that took us quickly near our destination, Blewett Pass. Along the way we ran into Pacific Northwest climbing legend Fred Beckey out from Blewett Pass for an afternoon ski trip. We completed the trip in a leisurely six hours.
The organizers had big luxurious busses to give us a ride back to our vehicles in Wenatchee and Leavenworth. Everyone received a really cool t-shirt as a prize. Doerte and I met one of the organizers, Eric Redrup from Leavenworth.
This is an intermediate ski with a few miles of ungroomed skiing at the beginning. Ages ranged from teenagers to seniors.
The Hog Loppet is one of the best ski events in the entire Pacific Northwest! Plan on signing up and committing to the race a minimum of two weeks prior to the event to ensure a spot on the buses as they sell out.
Want to go next year? http://www.skileavenworth.com/events
For more information on all the Leavenworth events go to www.wenatcheevalleysports.com
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