Thursday, December 29, 2011

Monday, Dec 26

It’s been one of those light snow years so far, the ski resorts are desperately making man-made snow through the night in an effort to satisfy the winter crowds and all they hear is the long range forecast reports of sunny weather. The highway over the mountain pass by our cabin normally would have the gate closed at Soapstone basin with several feet covering the road over. The only option would be to travel with skis, foot or snowmobile the rest of the sixteen miles up to the pass at 11,000 feet plus and over the range to the other side. There, one could, if one was determined enough travel some 30 extra miles down to the small town of Evanston, Wyoming.

This winter has been different, a few inches are on the road and they have a small sign by the side of the open gate informing the adventurous traveler that there is no winter service from this point on. Another words go for it, if you get stuck in the snow on the road you are on your own!!!

We drove past the sign to see how far we could go up.

These are the people you read about in the paper who get stranded for days on end only to be discovered in the spring with the family dog half eaten up.

Yesterday we got up several miles below the summit before our cars, both of which are four-wheel drive started spinning sideways in the steep incline of snow. We gave up, parked the vehicles and did a small cross-country ski tour. That night we were scheming how to get the cars up all the way to the pass.

Today we packed a big lunch, loaded everyone up in both cars with skies and shovels and headed up to the closed highway to the point we made it to yesterday. There we put chains on the Volvo XC and continued on up the rest of the way. We saw only snowmobile tracks ahead of us, no four-wheel vehicle had ventured up so high, it was virgin territory for us and the car was sliding side to side as it slowly worked its way up higher and higher. At 11,000 feet with maybe a foot of packed snow on the road, in sight of the last curve over the top we decided to park it and break out the skis. Bald Mountain at 11,943 stood in front of us; we decided to try to ski around it. The sun was out, it was warm in the air and off we headed in a serenely quiet snow covered landscape. We worked are way through pine trees, rock fields and open meadows to a basin on the back side of the mountain at 11,500 in the dead of winter. A first for us in the middle of December and only possible because of the light snow fall so far.

Richard Boyer

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