Ruby Mountain Backcountry Snowboarding

TL;DR by ChatGPT: We hiked up Ruby Mountain with mixed snow conditions, encountering icy sections and limited snow cover. Despite the challenging terrain, the view was spectacular. We look forward to returning for better snow and exploring more backcountry options in the North Cascades.

We went to Ruby Mountain just before the opening of State Route 20 on April 15, 2023. There had been snow accumulation three days prior, but it was followed by two hot days that caused the fresh powder to melt. Overall, the experience of riding down was not as good as expected, as most of the best snow remained only in the upper 500 feet. The rest of the snow was covered with a thick shell with hard-packed icy snow below. As the temperature rose, the snow became extremely sticky, making it very difficult to turn on those untouched areas. The approach was also relatively long, with an elevation gain of roughly 1000 to 1500 feet and no consecutive snow to skin upon. Additionally, the route below the Ruby Mountain plateau was challenging to hike up due to dense trees and bushes.

Nevertheless, the view while hiking up was incredibly gorgeous. The presence of Ross Lake and the Hozomeen Mountain in the background created a distinctive picture for this trip. I could definitely imagine how much more worthwhile it would have been with the best snow conditions. Furthermore, this was the first trip where I brought my Canon R5 with me.

We parked at the Ross Dam Trailhead, crossed the closed gate, and walked to the Happy Creek Trailhead. The parking lot was one-third full since we arrived early and the weather report indicated partial cloudiness with light snow in the afternoon. The morning sun shone on Colonial Peak as we set out around 6:30 AM.

Hiking up through the designated trail was easy. However, once the trail ended, we had to traverse the ridge on foot since the snow coverage inside the forest was thin, and there were numerous logs strewn across the ground.

Once we reached higher elevation, the breathtaking view began to unfold. We were able to transition into touring mode at around 3000 feet of elevation. However, it remained challenging to locate existing tracks within the dense forest, and the route became steeper.

Ruby Mountain came into view as we hiked up to the first flat and wide area. From there, we had a panoramic view of Happy Creek and the summit of Ruby Mountain. Initially, we hadn’t realized that our descent would take us directly through the Happy Creek gully. We decided to climb up the ridge, following a track on the left side and reentering the dense forest. However, in hindsight, this turned out to be a less optimal choice. We noticed groups of people climbing directly towards the steep face on the right side of the creek, which appeared to be a more direct and easier route compared to battling through the trees and bushes.

Upon climbing up the ridge once again, the full grandeur of Ruby Mountain and the prime riding terrain came into view. There were sparse trees and interconnected slopes leading up to the summit. This section proved to be the most enjoyable, as the slope wasn’t steep, and the view was truly rewarding. However, as predicted by the weather report, clouds began to roll in, accompanied by stronger winds. With the entire area now visible, we realized that Ruby Mountain was actually quite crowded, with numerous groups present. Roughly 30 or more people were summiting Ruby Mountain.

The route for riding down mostly followed the track we took while hiking up, except for the section where we went straight towards the Happy Creek gully. The snow conditions would have been significantly better if we had come right after a fresh snowfall. Additionally, if we had arrived earlier in the season, the approach could have been much shorter. The entire car-to-car trip covered approximately 10 miles in total, with an elevation gain of almost 6000 feet - undoubtedly a workout day!

The North Cascades area offers an abundance of backcountry choices. Hopefully, one day I will have the opportunity to return to this route and experience the incredibly rewarding snow it has to offer.

Append some pictures with me inside. Kudos to my friends!

Lonely Planet

I have been reading the lonely planet series for more than a decade. The first lonely planet book I read was Europe, before the exchange vacation program. During those days, smartphones were just in the cradle, far from being called ‘smart’. And my computer was soaked with Germany’s winter snow. The sole information source I could rely on was the Lonely Planet Europe book. With maps, hostel addresses, and tourist attractions, this book guided me through the entire ten days.

In the next ten years, I have not been able to explore many new countries. The only books I have read, and the only destinations I have been to are Russia and Mexico. This year, I was fortunate enough to have stepped into both Great Britain and the South American continent. And early next year, I will set out again to Japan. Though I prepared for my London trip without Lonely Planet, I did scrutinize Chile and Argentina. Several days ago, I got my Japan series.

I enjoy traveling, not only physically being there, but virtually as well. Even without modern technologies like AR/VR, I could still enjoy foreign atmospheres by reading books and browsing websites. I often spend time on Google Maps on a whim, reading signs and pictures, reviews and comments. It feels surprisingly real and surreal at the same time, that 8 million people live on the same planet, busy minding their businesses.

Tying Up Loose Ends

Recently, I have been playing the game Elden Ring for almost 200 hours. I enjoy playing games with open-world settings like this quite much. The first game of this genre that I played was The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, which was exactly 10 years ago. (I landed in the United States 10 years ago and immediately I bought my first MacBook Pro and installed that game.) One major reason these games are so intriguing is the ‘freedom’ of roaming around the entire world without being tightly restricted to a single linear questline. Multiple events happen simultaneously in all places and the gamer can hop between different storylines and experience the intertwined plots at the same time.

Just like the real world, loose ends scatter around everywhere. While I am pushing forward the story between D and Fia, I need to take care of Ranni’s quests and follow what Blaid tells me to do. Meanwhile, I have to check where Nepheli or Alexander is and keep track of Hyetta’s grapes. Each time I switch from one character’s questline to another character’s question, I must retrieve some old memories and invoke the contexts around them - picking up the loose end, figuring out the current situation, and then starting to tie it up.

The cost of switching between different contexts is already so much in such a straightforward game mainly describing several powers seeking to be dominant. As has been stated, in the real world, our lives will only have many more loose ends than in games. You are planning two or three trips at one time, booking itineraries and adding points of interest. Besides, you are working on some home improvement projects, with certain tools not yet delivered. Meanwhile, you need to maintain some daily or weekly fitness or social routines, some of which get conflict with others. At the same time, you have piles of cleaning up work to deal with, such as organizing the last trip’s photos, getting rid of some unwanted items bought accidentally, eating up what has been left in the pantry that is impending its expiration date, etc. Till now, I have not mentioned a word about work.

I admire people who organize so well of anything, all the loose ends. Without extraordinarily excellent memory, one could only do two things to survive: 1) limit the number of loose ends as hard as possible; 2) provide contexts that could be used for picking up the loose ends as much as possible. Exactly the same problem as multi-threading.

For the first item, one shall try to close any tasks with their best effort. However, nobody knows if a task is actually closed, and by no means will it be reopened. Thus, in order to achieve the second goal, the ultimate approach, at least for me, is to write notes, to dump all thoughts that have been lurking around in the mind into words and letters, and to make it easier to read and follow even with zero background knowledge.

Subsequently, the task becomes managing loose ends in the notes. Oh, what a recursive problem.