We could of easily spent a week at the National Monument but it was time to move on. The upcoming destination was Yuba State Park, smack in the middle of Utah. The trek in whipped through more of the San Rafael Desert. Finding ourselves taken by all the amazing desert landscape. We arrived at an empty Yuba Lake Campground and found a spot right next to the lake. Another peaceful area to call home for the night. The weather was the warmest we had felt in 5 months, so I pulled out my skateboard and ripped around the campground while Kayley threw her feet up to relax. We sat by the fire, had a beer or two, peered out over the moon lit lake and surrounding snow covered hills.
We awoke to the warming sun, and hopped back onto the I-15N towards Salt Lake City. With the windows down we cruised to Nevada. Once out of the city and towards the Utah/Nevada state boarder, the Bonneville Salt Flats made an appearance. An illusion, these flats look more like a forever stretching white lake. It’s not until you dip your foot in do you realize it’s a field filled with mushy, damp salt. Here is where they have many car events, most famously, where people continually try and break the land speed record.
Can you guess what the first thing was we saw as we pulled through the Nevada boarder?….A casino. This isn’t my first time to Nevada but was Kayley’s first, I had been to Las Vegas years before, so my descriptive image of the state was a wasteland with casinos littered everywhere, I wasn’t expecting much.. In a sense I wasn’t wrong but it was clear after driving through it, there was beauty to the land of gambling.
The northern section of the state featured green fields filled with livestock, zero major cities, snowy mountain tops in every direction and a never ending highway. A real peaceful place.
We arrived at South Fork State Park, about 20 miles south of Elko, on a stellar afternoon. We had the grounds to ourselves, so we both enjoyed long, well needed showers, cooked up a cast-iron meal, aired out the van and gazed upon the South Fork Reservoir (They don’t really have natural lakes around here so they have to make them). The night mirrored the previous evening, a starlit lake with the sun setting behind the mountain range. With no one else around, it gave us a quiet night to rest.
With excitement, we continued to move towards Squaw Valley. The remaining drive through Nevada was as great as the prior day, and just like when we entered, we left with the sight of casinos. Never change Nevada.
As we made our way into the Lake Tahoe area, the insanity of their record breaking winter season was evident, snow piles easily stood 2-3 stories high. No wonder they had to shut this area down for days at a time over the last couple months. We were lucky to be arriving mid-week, this gave us the chance to park for free at the Squaw lot! (They don’t allow parking on the weekends). As much as camping out at different spots is rad, it puts a hole in the pocket.
Like most of the days this month, day one at Squaw was filled with minimal clouds and tons of sun. If it wasn’t for the wind, we would of been cooking. The snow was slushy immediately since the temps didn’t drop below zero that night. It was clear to say we could chalk this down as another rad spring day. Squaw is super fun, lots of steep runs and with all the snow, it was fair game wherever you decided to take your board. The park and mini pipe were fun to play around on with the super soft snow, we didn’t take many breaks. By the time 2:30 rolled around, we were pooched.
Friday was filled with much of the same, the sun was back out in full force and no wind allowed that snow to be soft quick. Repeating what we had done the day before, knowing the sweet spots gave us the chance to rip what we wanted before packing it up and moving onto our next destination.
We wanted to stay longer but with the lots only being available on weekdays and all the local campgrounds are buried in snow which wont melt till July, it was necessary to get outta there. The Tahoe area is somewhere we plan on coming back to in the summer months to experience everything else it has to offer. The Sierra Nevada is clearly a rad place to be.
After being at Squaw, that finished all the resorts on our Mountain Collective Pass we planned on hitting during this tour. At this point I think we had ridden 11 of the 16 days that month. It was fair to say we were feeling a little worn. To rest our bodies and mental state, the coast was our new destination. With it being out of reach from Lake Tahoe, we stopped off at a campground just south of Redding, California. The drive in changed drastically, in 4 hours it went from snow, forest and mountains, to palm trees, lush green fields and flowering plants.
The campground that night was nothing to write home about. It was busy, no real privacy between each site, at least it was a safe, and a cheap place to sleep.
Our trek towards the California coast, more specifically the Redwoods left us antsy. We were super excited to get there so our patience wasn’t evident, no to mention a giant rockslide delayed us a good 45mins somewhere along the way. A rockslide that happened maybe a couple hours before….
In coastal fashion, we arrived to rain. A real change from the last 2 weeks of pretty much straight sun. Our plan was to see as much of the Redwoods as possible, so we started at the south end of their range. Humboldt State Park located an hour and a half south of Eureka, features a solid starting point for seeing these ginormous plants. The rain continued to pour harder but being in the presence of these trees kind of makes you forget how soaked you are. The park is located along the Avenue of the Giants scenic drive, hugged into the deep end of giant Redwoods. It was cool to see the van parked underneath the canopies. As much as we wanted to spend more of the night outside, the rain didn’t allow it.
Luckily for us, the rain let up the next morning, allowing us to enjoy the entirety of the Avenue of the Giants drive without rain, we even had breaks of sun that morning. The drive, dipping and dodging through these 300 foot trees is an unreal site, mind bending to think how big they truly are.
Our day ended at Jedediah Campground in Redwoods National Park. Located at the northern section of the park, just south of the Oregon border. The park was one of the nicest I’d ever seen. Each spot encompassed by the greenery, and with the giants all around, you could sit down and stare up for hours. With the rain making its delay, we were able to have a big fire, Kayley cooked up an awesome stew and shared a couple cold ones. It really doesn’t get much better than that.
The rain returned the following morning, but since we were headed to Oregon, it seemed appropriate. Our mission was to complete the drive of the Oregon coast with having done the northern half in January. Along the way up we stopped off at the Natural Bridge Viewpoint, Umpqua Lighthouse Park, Coos Bay before arriving at Jesse M. Honeyman State Park located in the Oregon Sand Dunes. The campground reminded us of being back in the Redwoods with the similar, damp, coastal feel. The rain persisted but we decided to explore anyways. Buy a good rain jacket, it’ll prevent you from saying you can’t have fun in the rain.
A few clicks away from the main campground, rainforest trails lead you out to the land of sand. There were dunes that stood an apartment building tall and yes, we climbed up! Close by featured lots of off-roading tracks, clearly an awesome place to do that, the surrounding area was huge with sights of the ocean in the distance.
The wet ground didn’t permit a fire, but the area around us was all we needed to stay outside and enjoy the Oregon beauty. Oregon State Parks are the best, always beautiful sights, clean hot showers and affordable!
The rain continued and we finished off the coastal drive the following morning. Kayley, since our last trip to Oregon, had talked about and hoped to see a whale. Luckily for her, this would be the month to see one since they are currently migrating. We stopped off at a viewpoint just south of Yachats, and just as we step out of the van, a nice woman informs us there are whales moving by. Kayley was astatic. They move quickly, but we were able to see a couple fins, barnacle covered backs and water spouts. An awesome way to wrap up the Oregon tour. Thank you Whales!
Our pit stop for the night was Portland, and with the previous visit being a little bit more miserable, it was nice to experience the city on a overcast afternoon. We caught some wifi at a local Starbucks, got things in order and relaxed in a familiar area.
A week or so ago I had said to Kayley, if Mt. Hood or Baker is getting snow on the way back to Canada, we are going, no questions asked. As I sit in the Starbucks, I pull open some forecasts and what do I see…Baker is expected to get 30-40cms the following day. I looked up at Kay and said, we are going to Baker tomorrow and without hesitation she said, sounds good! Like I said, no questions asked haha. If someone ever says to you “We are going to Mt. Baker”, don’t ask why, just know it’s for a good reason.
With a quick stop at a Sonic (the best American fast food chain), we arrived at a rainy Glacier, Washington. With rain meant the upper levels had to be getting snow. As we made our way up the 542 Summit Hwy, the rained turned into snow. After checking the van in, the snow grew harder and harder. The stoke for tomorrow was high.
Us and two other campers awoke to a fully white parking lot, and with a couple inches built up on the side mirrors, it was clear today was going to be a deep day.
As the time grew to 9am, we stood third in line and with barely anyone in the lifeline, the turns were going to be endless! The ride up Chair 8 really proved how much snow they received overnight, we pointed each and every direction figuring out where we wanted to ride first, but once we got to the top, the plan was forgotten and went wherever our boards took us. Kayley and I have had our fair share of pow laps this season and after that ride, we both agreed it was the best of the season. A feeling you cannot describe and a feeling you continually try and chase.
The remainder of the day kept getting better, we hung around Chair 8 the majority of the day, and with no one around, new, fresh lines were there all morning. By the time noon rolled around, both realizing we had easily lapped 8-10 runs of pure joy. The sun began to show its face and with the warmer temps, the snow started getting heavy. Not wanting to call it a day although everything was tracked and with our legs on fire, it was time to say good-bye to this paradise.
Mt. Baker is a special place, it finds itself squeezed between two beautiful mountains, Mt. Shuksan and Mt. Baker. Having yourself positioned up there, looking down at a fresh powder line with complete silence (other than all the happy shredders screaming Yew!!) festers a feeling that only can be describe as sublime. Not to get all emotional about it, but as a snowboarder, this is home. Also, it’s super cool that it’s family owned, hosts the Legendary Banked Slalom and people who ride Baker are grassroots individuals who care about being on a board or skis. We will be back Baker, and I couldn’t be more stoked about it.
After taking off our soaking gear and enjoying some lunch, we made our way back to Canada, making it to Vancouver late afternoon. The last month was rad, we saw so much cool shit, met amazing humans, and rode our snowboards at places we had only ever dreamed about riding at. The US hosts some of the best terrain for snowboarding, hiking, skating, surfing, sight seeing and just relaxing. From the mountains, to the desert and the salty coast, there is endless places to enjoy. North America is an amazing continent, and for us there is still so much to see. Sometimes it’s hard for me to understand why so many North Americans travel across each ocean to escape, I’m sure they have their reasons, but for me, I will spend my entire life trying to witness everything it has to offer.