Liz and Ben Dunham on the day of the big injury.

The day started out wonderfully. Tumwater canyon was gorgeous under the cloudy sky; recent avalanche paths were visible between the evergreen forests and bare winter larches. After a stretch of especially freezing single digit temperatures and firm conditions we had a warmup and some fresh snow. My husband and I decided to finally get back out there and do some low angle ski touring at Yodelin trees, a popular area near Stevens Pass. The area first opened in 1969 as Yodelin Ski Resort. As the resort’s popularity grew, they developed houses and ski cabins across the highway. Tragically, an avalanche in 1971 took out two cabins in its path, causing four fatalities and proving the housing development to be unsafe. Subsequent litigation and legal fees led to Yodelin Ski area closing by 1974. The chairlifts were sold and the former ski area is now popular with backcountry and cross-country skiers.

The terrain is just a few miles east of Stevens Pass and receives similar snowfall. We arrived late morning and skinned up the track already set by others enjoying the warmer temps and fresh layer of powder. Light snow fell as we followed the track through the trees, traversing the old ski runs. As we attained our goal above the ‘Yodelin trees’ the view opened up, and we enjoyed looking out at the valley below. After transitioning our skis we descended cautiously, knowing the “Christmas ice” layer was under the top layer of fairly fresh powder. I started to find some smooth untracked turns under the thin trees. About halfway down the slope I heard my phone ringing and was surprised to have service; I took a FaceTime call from my brother and exalted in the beautiful day and conditions. I used the cell service opportunity to call my mom and ask her to pick up our daughter from school since we would be running late. As sunset encroached we traversed into another patch of woods, searching for a clear way down. We hit some more lovely turns through trees and were relieved to discover our skin track, confirming we were almost back to the car.


The X-ray of the tibia and fibia broken leg bones in Liz's leg.


Dog Coco following Liz and Ben. She enjoys chasing sticks.


The view from inside the ambulance.


X-ray post-surgery. New hardware to put things back together.

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