A Christmas Ski Trip, Day 3: Skiing and Wine Tasting

I finish up my three-day trip with some more skiing and a stop for some wine and lunch at a favorite winery.

(This story has three other parts: Prelude, Day 1, and Day 2.)

I would have slept better if I weren’t so darn sore. In cross-country skiing the day before, I’d used muscles I forgot I had. Overnight, they started complaining about that, leaving me with aches and pains in my upper arms, shoulders, hips, and lower legs.

Three ibuprofen with my morning coffee certainly helped. After letting Penny out to do her business, I breakfasted on the leftover meat plate from the day before, the remains of that 1-pound Honeycrisp apple, and yogurt.

I showered and packed up at a leisurely pace, putting my “street clothes” in my day pack so I could change somewhere before starting the drive home. I layered up in my ski clothes. Penny and I took a little walk around the area. We met up with our downstairs neighbor and his dog, a border collie and chatted for a while. Then I packed up the Jeep, locked the loft cabin, and headed out with Penny.

At Mazama

We took the same route we’d taken the day before to Mazama: Wolf Creek Road. I really liked the quiet drive through the snow-covered forest of tall pines. I felt as if I could have driven along that road all day. The words for the song “Sleigh Ride” kept coming to my mind. It was indeed a “wonderland of snow.” I honestly didn’t realize how much I missed the snow until I got an opportunity to spend so much time in it.

In Mazama, my first stop was the Mazama Store. I’d bought a fleece sweater there two days before and it was too big. Although I’d wanted it for skiing, my trip was nearly over so I figured I’d just return it and get my money back. If they’d been open the day before, I would have exchanged it for a smaller size. Their loss.

Next, I headed back to the Goats Beard Mountain Supplies shop to see if they had any post-Christmas specials. It was a nice shop with lots of winter and climbing gear — nearby Goat Wall is apparently a popular climbing spot in the summer. But as I expected in a small gear shop in a winter tourist destination, no deals were to be had.

Finally, I wandered over to the Mazama Country Inn for breakfast. (I got into the habit of having two breakfasts most mornings when I was dieting back in 2012. It’s pretty easy to do when you wake up as early as I often do.) Eggs over medium, thick bacon cooked to perfection, and a toasted whole wheat English muffin with orange marmalade. What else could I ask for.?

On the way out, I stopped in the ladies room. I realized it would be a perfect place to change my clothes before heading home.

A Little More Skiing

It was close to 11 AM when I drove the Jeep over to the parking area for the easy ski trails I’d practiced at the day before. I wanted to do a few miles just to work on my balance and get my muscles moving again. Because I was able to park in the sun and there were very few people around, I decided to leave Penny behind. She was curled up in her bed, wearing her winter parka. I left the Jeep unlocked; I figured someone would rescue her if there was a problem. I didn’t expect there to be one. It was much warmer that day than it had been the day before. I figured the Jeep would stay at least 40°F in the sun while I was gone.

Map of Easy Trails
These trails are on mostly flat land near the base of Goat Wall in Mazama.

There were two men with a fire going in a portable fire pit at the trailhead. The fire pit was interesting; it had been built on a sled and even had a rope to pull it with. The menu were there to check ski passes, which I wore proudly. (Hell, how often do I get to wear a ski pass?) I put my skis on and took off in the freshly groomed tracks.

I did a little better without Penny on my back. I realize that the main challenge is feeling the edges of my skis and using them to push off better. Bending my knees more will likely help. I signed up for a three-session cross-country ski class at the local college in Wenatchee for January; I’m sure I’ll get much better after that. It’s a matter of building muscle memory, confidence, and balance. Two trips to Leavenworth with a group and instructor in January should give me plenty of practice.

Ski Trails at Mazama
The easy trails go alongside a snow-covered farm field and offer spectacular views of the north Cascade Mountains. Click here to see a panorama of this spot.

I did about 2-1/2 miles in an hour. Not bad. I can still hike faster.

Back at the Jeep, I let Penny out. She ran around a little while I chatted with the guys at the fire pit and stowed my skis. Then we headed back to the Mazama Country Inn, where I changed my clothes for the drive back. A while later, we were on Route 20, heading back down the Methow Valley toward home.

The Drive Home, with Wine

The drive back down the valley wasn’t nearly as pleasant as the drive up two days before had been. It might have been the weather — it was mostly gray all the way. Or it could have been the fact that there were other cars on the road and they kicked up just enough melted ice and snow to keep my windshield wipers and washer fluid working overtime all the way.

I stopped in Twisp for fuel and to visit the bakery my friend had recommended. It was closed. Feeling like I wanted a snack, I went back into the health food store there and bought some lemon bars. Very rich. I got an eggnog latte — likely the last one of the season — from a drive-thru coffee shop on my way out of town.

It was clearer but still overcast when I reached the Columbia River. At least I could see the hills and mountains around me. The whole place had been socked in on my way north two days before.

By the time I got to Chelan, I was ready for lunch. I decided to stop at Tsillan Cellars Winery. In the summer, I take people there for wine tasting and lunch or dinner. But because I fly them in by helicopter, I can’t drink. Now I was driving. Why not have a wine tasting and follow that up with lunch at Sorrento’s? It would finally give me a chance to see what I’d been missing.

My Burger
It was a great lunch, but I could only eat half of it.

I left Penny in the Jeep and went inside. There was only one other person at the long bar and she kept wandering from the bar to a table near the fireplace in the big tasting room. I had the wine server all to myself. I tasted five red wines and would up buying three bottles. Then I headed over to the restaurant, which had just a few tables occupied. I ordered a blue cheese burger and wound up taking half of it to go. Those lemon bars had spoiled my appetite.

I let Penny out again — poor thing was getting too much downtime, although she didn’t seem to mind — before we headed out on the last leg of our trip.

The weather cleared as we reached Route 97A after the tunnel and followed the Columbia River toward Wenatchee. The afternoon sun shined on the hillsides across the river while thin wisps of cloud drifted by. This is the foggy season in North Central Washington, with temperatures and dewpoints nearly matched almost every day. That afternoon was relatively clear, though and it made for a very pleasant final hour of driving.

River View
The afternoon sunlight really made the hillsides along the Columbia River glow.

I didn’t make any other stops on the way home. I pulled into the garage just as the sun was setting. Penny seemed very happy to be back on her home turf.

It had been a great little trip!

What do you think?