Last weekend was the annual Tracks In The Snow gathering in Skykomish, Wa. This event is for Northwest railfans to get together and railfan Stevens Pass with snow on the ground. Since it occurs annually it has become primarily a social gathering where we spend time talking about what is new in Northwest railroading, what is new in our families, talk a bit of trash, and do a bit of gossiping. Oh, ya, we do take photographs of railroad activities but most of us have photographed all the accessible places already so we aren’t as rushed to get to the next photo location as we have been in past years.
An eastbound train lights up the Foss River canyon as it crosses the trestle on the climb to Stevens Pass.
I go each year with the thought that I’ll relax and photograph the things I haven’t seen before. In fact I thought of exactly one pre-planned photo that I wanted to take and a couple of concept ideas. The rest I was going to play by ear and motivation. The photo above in fact was something I played by ear. The rest of the group is on the road just around the corner under the bridge and I didn’t want to get the same photo as they did.
I drove up to Sky on Thursday night. My plan was to check into the Cascadia and then head out for some night railfanning. As I arrived #8 was headed into the tunnel and a Z train was following it up to Scenic. With nothing else eastbound it was going to be a couple of hours until the next train so I decided to take a few photos around town and turn in with the thought of being up early for my night railfanning.
I awoke the next morning at 4:30am. I had intended to wake up at 5:30 but for some reason I was wide awake. I checked ATCS and I had 3 eastbounds headed my way so I got up, got ready and headed out for my night shot. The only wrench in the plans was the first eastbound left east Skykomish on an approach medium signal. With no trains ahead that likely meant a slide fence had come down on the hill. Sure enough the first eastbound reported to the dispatcher a small slide had come down at 1725.3 in the vicinity of the “high slide” fence. The result was trains would proceed at restricted speed for 2 miles between signals. Yikes. In the end the slide fence didn’t result in any issues, just a longer transit time between Sky and Scenic.
Thanks to a slide fence a couple miles east, this is one of the first clear signals a westbound train will see on the morning of February 1, 2013.
More to come about Tracks In The Snow….