Richard, my partner, offered to take me out mountain flying to share what he's learned in classes and while out flying. Marshal came along for the ride (and took these pictures).
We chose to head to Stehekin, a grass strip near a small town on the east side of the cascades. We flew up to Marblemount, up the Middle Fork of the Cascade River and over Cascade pass. Clouds were at about 7000ft so we crossed the pass fairly low and began our descent.
On arriving at the landingstrip the winds seemed to be from the north, different from the south winds blowing on the other side of the moutains. Then a turn over the lake showed waves from a south wind. Assuming a south wind I did a north to south pass over the strip. The northern several hundred feet were clear of snow while the bulk of the runway was covered with snow. The pass showed the wind was in fact from the north.
Richard thought the snow would be firm enough to land on. With his guidence I set up for a right base entry for north landing. He helped me adjust to some gusts just before touchdown. On touchdown the snow turned out to be fairly soft and we had a very abreviated ground roll.
We came to rest just off the runway center line. Or initial attempt to taxi resulted in no forward movement. We exited the airplane and took a look Each wheel had sunk about 5 inches into the snow. We packed the snow in front of the wheels. Richard was able to taxi through the packed snow but the plane stopped as soon as it hit the unpacked snow. With 700ft left to go this was going to take a while.
Some locals offered to get their 4X4 and pack some ruts. Meanwhile I gathered some wood to bridge a ditch ahead of the plane. Marshal found a large board and I put it under the tail wheel. Richard tried taxiing again, missed the planned alignment but had the plane moving and was able to taxi to the north end of the runway. The northern 400 ft were most clear of snow, though soft and muddy.
Now, the wind was from the north, so a north takeoff was indicated. However, we were not sure about getting off the ground and clearing trees using just 400 ft of runway. Instead we ligned up for a south departure. We just had to get off the ground before hitting the soft snow. Once clear we had plenty of runway to build airspeed and climb out.
Richard handled the takeoff. We left the ground just before reaching the snow.
On the way back I turned and flew up Agnus Creek. We passed Bonanza in the distance, Agnus which I've always wanted to climb, Chinkamen, Gunsight, Dome, and over flew the South Cascade Glacier. On this flight we passed over the beginning and the end of the Ptarmagine traverse, which Andrew and I did in 1997.
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