Written July 3, 2019
Experienced March 10, 2019
My journey as a Doctor of Physical Therapy has brought me down many beautiful paths. From living the salt life in Florida, to travel Physical Therapy, I keep learning how expansive my field of work is. It is truly a blessing.
Being that I’m a woman of many passions, hobbies, and interests (a multipontentialite, if you will), I was fearful early on in my career that I’d never have a direction. I felt intrigued by so many different specialties in my field (ortho, neuro, peds) and didn’t think I’d EVER want to ‘give one up’ and limit my scope of practice. Yet, almost four years after graduating with my DPT degree, I am 100% confident in my passion within Physical Therapy: pediatrics! I keep getting pulled back to working with the kiddos and I find it both rewarding and challenging – something I need with my insatiable desire for knowledge! Plus, I get to be creative and play all day. Score for the kid who will forever live in my heart!
Wherever I’ve worked in pediatrics, I’ve been surrounded by like-minded people. We bond together over both the joys and challenges of working with children. Some of my coworkers have become my closest friends, and the crew at Seattle Children’s has been no different. Being full time at the North Clinic has afforded me the time and environment to foster close relationships with people who share similar mindsets professionally, but ALSO love getting outside! When the clinic opened in August 2018, I didn’t know what kind of team we’d end up with. Yet, we were gifted the most divine group of people who share so many common interests and passions. I don’t know how management put together our team, but holy smokes did they do an amazing job!
In March of 2019, one of my coworkers planned (very far in advanced) a trip along the Mount Tahoma Trail System outside of Mount Rainier National Park. Our one night in the Copper Creek Hut had me grinning from ear-to-ear, and I still dream about our EPIC, FIVE-STAR dinner and game night at the hut! I can’t wait to plan for next year!
In November 2018, Steve had the forethought to bring together some rad humans for a trip to the Copper Creek Hut!
Now, while I like planning ahead and having thing to look forward to, this was trip planning on a new level. It’s not so often that one man has the power to bring about 14 people together on one trip… FOUR months in advanced! It’s a little harder to come by people who are willing to commit to such a trip, and I am so grateful Steve was able to pull this off! He was on top of all the planning fun – picking dates & people, assigning breakfast/dinner crews, parking permits, keeping track of trail conditions, etc.! It was nice to have someone fully on the reigns and go along for the ride… and ’twas an EPIC one!
All the below details were taken care of seamlessly thanks to our fearless leader, but figured I’d share some morsels of MTTA trip planning!
- Click here for the MTTA Trail and Hut User Information!
- Reservations for the huts are needed to spend the night. Winter weekend reservations for December through March can be made at the Reservation Gala, which takes place at REI in the fall. In 2018, it was on November 3 at the Seattle REI at 1pm. Because of the high demand for winter weekend reservations, ALL weekends are booked at the gala! Lottery tickets are drawn in groups of 12 and, unfortunately, nobody in our group was able to attend the gala. I sent a scout to the gala, who was ALSO unable to get tickets. (Fail, fail). A few days after the Gala, reservations for mid-week dates were available via online registration. Thus, our group opted for a Sunday-Monday that worked for everyone!
- Parking permits in winter season (~November 1 to April 30) require a Washington State Parks Sno-Park Permit. You can purchase a $40 annual non-motorized sno-park permit, OR daily $20 sno-park permits, with the caveat that the daily sno-park permits can only be used with a WA State Discover Pass.
- Trail/road conditions can be found on the Facebook and Twitter pages. Our trip planner, Steve, required I get chains for my Forester. So I got them. Even though it’s still slightly unclear if I can use them on my Subaru?! (P.S. I returned the chains on April 1. Thank you, Le Schwab.)
- All hut facilities are open to the public from 7am – 7pm. After hours, it’s for people with reservations only!
- NO DOGS are allowed at the Copper Creek Hut, but are allowed on the South District trails (High Hut, Bruni’s Snow Bowl Hut and Yurt side). Yet… the dogs are still not allowed inside of the huts/in the vestibules. So, in the winter, it kind of sounds like dogs are not really a good idea on any part of the Mt. Tahoma Trails…
Travel to the Copper Creek Hut is 5.4 miles with 1,640′ of elevation gain from lower sno-park. We met at a park and ride in the morning to carpool with our gear and supplies, arriving at the Lower Snow Park and hitting the trail by 10am.
We all had a variety of travel methods. Snowshoes, cross country skis, and backcountry skis. Three of us decided to skin up to the hut and we were able to start skinning right at the parking lot! We traveled at a rate of about 1 mile per hour, stopping for casual snack breaks en route and arrived at the hut around 4pm!
We were all surprised by the level comfort in the Copper Creek Hut! There were cots for everyone (14 total!), a totally outfitted kitchen (including propane oven, stovetop, and dishes/utensils), solar-powered lighting, and buckets to melt snow on the woodburning fireplace. We also would later learn how WARM and comfortable it gets! We all wished we brought shorts for sleeping.
We really only had to bring food and sleeping bags, so we went hardcore on our food arrangements. Well, to be precise, MICHAEL went five-star restaurant hard on our dinner menu. He was the leader of the dinner crew and mapped out the best backcountry meal I’ve ever imagined! Our bagged wine was the perfect complement to our dinner menu:
- Tri-tip roast
- THE BEST COWBOY CAVIAR EVER
- Loaves of bread
- Carrots, turnips, snap peas
I definitely would have eaten peanut butter & jelly for dinner, but I “settled” for the above.
Our evening consisted of card games, a round of fishbowl (BEST GAME EVER), story telling, and wine drinking. I learned to play Idiot, which is my new favorite card game. I even said “NO” to a skin closer to Rainier to play card games. I mean, I love skiing, but I LOVE GAMES… especially with newer friends.
We all stepped outside to marvel at the beautiful sunset, and the tip of Mount Rainier shining in all its alpenglow glory.
On this trip, I discovered I have a new VERY IMPORTANT mission in life. And I am willing to share it with you. *Deep breath* Here it goes…
I, Kristen Connolly, will one day have an outhouse named after myself.
It’s true. My new life goal is to be important enough to have a crapper named after myself. The MTTA had a glorious appreciation award hanging in… *drum roll*… the OUTHOUSE. Ted Keeley, I admire your service. AND it is now my personal life mission to have an outhouse named after me, of which I shall name “The KCONN Crap Shack.” (Has a nice ring to it, eh?)
But seriously, how do I do something important enough to have a crapper named after me? Just wait until you’re pooping one day and you read my name. It’s WAY better than neon city lights.
We awoke in the morning to a beautiful sunrise and began packing up as the breakfast crew provided another incredible meal of eggs, bacon, sausage, croissants, and oranges! My belly was smiling really wide.
Once packed up, we all donned our walking/skiing devices and headed back down! The ski down to the parking lot was adventurous, to say the least. The trails are more for cross country skiing, so there was a few times we had to boot pack on the super flat or uppity sections. There was also an awful lot of sticky snow that came randomly on the faster areas. It kind of felt like we were playing Mario Kart, and we’d be running in star mode, then suddenly it’d ware out and we’d be hitting the brakes. This took a lot of quad activation to not flip over the handlebars of my skis, and holy guacamole were my legs feeling it! Yet, it was really fun. Skiing is the best.
I’m so grateful for Steve pulling this all together. I can’t wait for next year’s 5-star meal in the huts! I still dream about the cowboy caviar…