Solstice and the Unexpected Goods

Words by: Kat Parks

Photos by: Cayman Waughtel

I have commemorated Yule/Winter Solstice in a variety of ways over the last couple of years and this year was low-key and exactly what I needed. I adorned our dining room table with holly, rowan, and candles, and we each chose several stones for the altar. Our simple ritual was writing down what we want to let go of from 2021 and what we want to lean into/embrace for the upcoming year. We then burned our papers and each drew a tarot card. It was quick and perfect and we ended the evening playing cribbage, drinking wassail, eating shortbread and connecting on a quiet night. Bed came early because of our early wake up the next morning and I fell asleep with a happy heart. 

We weren’t quite sure what kind of conditions to expect when we headed out for our tour the next day. There was mixed rain/snow at the base of Crystal the day before but the temps were supposed to start dropping throughout the day and we figured we’d chance potentially crumby snow conditions in order to earn some turns in the burn zone. What ensued was a day filled with lapping powder and getting nuked on for hours.

For the heck of it we took a slightly different route than we usually take up to the burn zone. Within about 30 minutes from breaking off the main route, the storm rolled in and quickly engulfed the view of Crystal. The snow came in hard and the wind howled but we were all smiles and in disbelief at the incredible turns we were about to start making. 

As the wind picked up and with the new snow falling, we paid careful attention to a shift in the potential avalanche problems that could have developed. With gusts up to 30 mph, we sought shelter behind trees for our transitions and talked through travel plans. We skied until we got cold and began our descent back to the lot — I will never tire of skiing past snow covered firs.

Cayman played with Pippy in the lot while I heated up some mini raviolis in our trusty MSR Windburner. Crystal is a bit of a drive so we’ve began making full days of our time up there so we can ski longer and have what we need to hang out for as long as we want to without getting grumpy from hunger or feeling pressure to get home. I read Harry Potter out loud until I got too sleepy and switched to listening to music and chatting with my love until we got back to Olympia.