As I write this post, winter has much of North America in a firm grip. Here in Seattle, the season has been a mild one, and friends who have been up in the mountains have reported having to abandon snowshoeing and cross-country skiing plans for hiking due to the lack of snow. Since I’ve been nursing a knee injury, I haven’t ventured out on the trail myself yet this year, but this photo makes me think back a couple of years to one of the best winter weekends I’ve spent recently. I was invited for a weekend stay at Skalitude Retreat, an off-grid getaway located on 160 acres in the Methow Valley, just east of Washington’s North Cascade mountains. My friends Marie and Ida jumped at the chance to join me.
Powered and heated by solar panels (with a backup generator when necessary) and a woodstove, Skalitude is designed to blend with its surroundings – in fact, the name comes from a Salish word meaning “to be in harmony with nature.” We stayed in the main lodge building with three bedrooms, a living area, and a kitchen. (For larger groups, there are additional bedrooms in the “Bermhouse” annex.) We had the entire property to ourselves – apart from the owners’ house down the driveway, the only sign of human life during our entire stay was a British film crew making a documentary about wolves, whose campsite we skied by one morning.
During the weekend, we cross-country skied, snowshoed, sledded down the hill behind the Bermhouse, sweated out our aches and pains in the wood-fired sauna, and curled up in the living area by the woodstove. The snow falling outside and the solitude and tranquility of the place made for a perfect winter retreat.
I took this photo along the cross-country ski trail through the Skalitude woods. I love the way the reddish bark of the trees stands out against the dark green branches and the white snow.