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Patrol Race – Summit West to Stampede Pass Ski Tour

On Saturday, February 27th, we woke up at 5 am and made our way to Snoqualmie pass. Driving through pouring rain in the dark trying to make jokes to keep the positive attitude, I could feel the stoke level drop down the closer we got to our destination. “Are you ready to walk for 20 miles in the rain?” – internally I was asking myself and mentally blocking out the response. I was originially really excited to challenge myself with the patrol race, but I definitely didn’t wish to do that in the pouring rain.


Krystin and Laura entering the morning fog as the light start coming in

I bet you are wondering what is this “patrol race” I speak of. The Patrol Race is a 20 mile ski tour route between 2 lodges, originally started back in the 1930s and ran for twelve years, “producing tales of both misadventure and great ski prowess”. In 2014, the Mountaineers and a few vivid enthusiasts decided to bring the race back into the 21 century. The race ran for the first time in 2014 but was cancelled last year due to low snowpack. We were happy to see Snoqualmie pass filled with snow this time around in 2016 as the race was back on again.


Patrol Race Plaque at Meany Lodge

Krystin, one of our Seattle SheJumps ambassadors, originally heard about the race from a friend and decided to enter the lottery for fun to see if she’d win. To participate, you needed to build a team of 3 people: everyone is required to stay together for the duration of the race. Krystin contacted myself and Laura to see if we’d be interested – without too much thinking, we said we were in! A few weeks later we have found out that we were selected and decided that there was no going back: we were doing it! To prepare for the race we tried to put in more miles on the skin track during our upcoming tours, keeping in mind the neither of us have ever skinned 20 miles in a single day. The challenge sounded exciting, strenuous (in a good way) and a great way to come together.


Post downhill skinning. Here come the giggles.

We went and inspected a part of the course (first 5 miles) the week before the race, gaining confidence in our navigation skills and feeling more comfortable checking out the terrain which to our surprise was pretty flat.  This played to our advantage the day of the race, as we were very familiar with the first part of the course.


Side-hilling was the big theme of the day

We started the race at 6:40am over at Summit West, gaining the first 500 feet of elevation on the groomer in the misty rain. The first few miles of the race went by fast and we honestly forgot that it was raining. We set our goal to finish and didn’t focus too much on the how long it would take us. As we progressed through the course, we learned that it continued to mostly remain flat and not many transitions were required. There was indeed some skillful down hill skinning needed, which brought a fair amount of giggles and a face plant (or two).


Adventuring through the forest. The markings on the tree that you see, people tell me, are from the original Patrol race course in the 1930s

To be allowed to finish the race, we needed to reach certain checkpoints within the course before the allotted time.  We pushed through to check point 1 at noon and after a few(~6) shot blocks followed to checkpoint 2 by around 2pm, finishing just before 3:30pm. We finished strong in just under 9 hours at Meany lodge, greeted by cow bells and cheers. Once inside the lodge, apart from our wet clothes, we had some good laughs remembering how sad we felt just 9 hours ago as we started the race but we all agreed that we were glad to push through to the finish and we’d probably do it again!


Girafficorn power during the last mile of the Patrol Race

We really wished to stay for dinner and awards at Meany lodge, but tired and sleepy we headed back to Seattle. I was in bed and asleep before 9pm. I did hear that the awards ceremony was quite the treat, I was really sad to miss it. The event was run by a great community of volunteers – thank you all for making this awesome event happen and supporting us from start to finish with encouraging words and cookies.

If any of you are looking for a challenging touring objective for next year, I definitely recommend trying this race out. It is a great opportunity to challenge yourself, work together and have fun with 2 people of your choosing.

If you want to learn more about the race, you can check out the details here.  Shout-out once again to the volunteers who helped make this race happen, it truly felt like a big family!

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