After a ride up to lifts from the base of Mission Ridge we started our tour!
Thanks to Susan Ashlock for the image.
The Hog Loppet
Okay! Lets go through this again.
What is the Hog Loppet? It is Swedish for "citizen's high country ski trek". It's not really a race
It is a high traverse ski tour from the top of Mission Ridge Ski Area to Blewett Pass, covering 30 kilometers. This was the 19th annual cross-country ski event, and again this year there were over 500 skiers participating with ideal bluebird conditions. This 21-mile event is not a race but a Hog Loppet, where the only goal is to maximize the fun and finish.
The Washington Alpine Club (as usual) was very well represented! Laurel Fan, Jeff Compton, Scott Calhoun, Christy True, Mike Mahanay, Gary Schmidt and friends participated this year. Where's Doerte? On the injured list temporarily with a broken fibula.
We all met at the Wenatchee Convention Center by 6:30 am 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 (such as buy a new pair of sunglasses) 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 have an odd gene that enables them to hardly ever get off the lifts successfully. Luckily, the ski patrol was there to assist those that fell.
The route is down then up for the first 7 miles, then down then gradually up for the next 7 miles, and then the last 7 miles has a couple of miles of easy uphill and then a spectacular thrilling 5 mile long descent to 4100 foot Blewett Pass. Along the way, there were three aid stations with snacks, pears, water, Gatorade, hot chocolate, brownies, cookies, and emergency equipment.
This year the views were stunning! We had crystal clear spectacular views of Mount Rainier, Mount Adams, the Columbia River, Glacier Peak and Mount Stuart. The top of Mission Ridge was comfortable at 7:30 am with no wind. We lingered before moving on to the trail. We took off on a long fast 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 backcountry for a couple of miles, then freshly groomed complete with a track for the rest 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 old 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. Most prople were on Nordic backcountry skis. There were also classic track skis, and skate skis. 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.
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 said that the Hog Loppet was known for the wide variety of older equipment.
The groomed trail was a real pleasure! The downhills were exhilarating, and the uphills were daunting. 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 friend and local Wenatchee National Forest Ranger Todd Stiles, and had a nice visit with him. The WAC is hoping to do some trail maintenance on the winter ski trails this summer and fall.
After a short rest, we started to ski to the finish! After Haney Meadows, a slight uphill is encountered before the exhilarating five mile downhill run. There is some really nice backcountry skiing in this area. After two miles of level and uphill trail we began the exciting 5 mile fast descent that took us quickly to our destination, Blewett Pass. With the fabulous conditions we completed the trip in a leisurely four 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.
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 four weeks prior to the event to ensure a spot on the buses as they sell out. With your own transportation, you can sign up on the day of the event.
More great photos from Susan:
For more information on all the Leavenworth events go to www.wenatcheevalleysports.com
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