|The O'Brien Creek sign near Divide Road|
|The always impressive O'Brien Creek|
|My skies needed a good scraping after they got a dunking in the creek|
|The sight of the sun-dappled Neihart Baldy Mountain means the end of the trip is near|
Showdown continues to get amazing snowfalls; another 16 inches fell over the weekend.
I ran up Friday to catch the powder on a very cold day in Great Falls, where the temperature dawned at minus 24.
But, I was going to the trailhead anyway and expected to see temperatures on the 20 degrees plus side.
Between Monarch and Neihart things looked pretty bleak. Temperatures were well below zero and a heavy snowfall developed.
I tried Steve Taylor's place in Neihart to see if he could give me a ride to the top, but he wasn't home.
I became undecided at this point and said I'd drive to the top and if it hadn't reached at least 20 degrees I'd forgo my planned O'Brien Creek trip for something on the Deadman side of the pass.
It didn't look too good until I hit the Silvercrest Area and temperatures rose dramatically, reaching the magic 20 degree marker.
I turned around and went back to the bottom, got my boots on, grabbed the skis and started to hitchhike.
Immediately, the first car stopped and it was Pete Rysted, former Great Harvest bakery store owner, who left me off at the top, but not without having expressed his concern that I'd have a tough time breaking trail back to Neihart, some 8 miles away.
He was right.
Since I was alone, I was now forced to break trail nearly all the way back.
What is usually a three hour ski trip turned into a six hour marathon.
I got quite a workout.
Luckily for me, the pretty snow stopped and about half-way through the ski, the skies cleared and the sun came out.
- My wife's snow shoe group had been over 1.65 miles of the trail on Sunday and there were faint tracks left. They dropped off toward the powerline. They left me a slight base that I really appreciated.
- The trail was unbroken from there. The only other person I know who had skied and broken the trail was Jasmine Krotkov, who did so a month earlier. No sign of her tracks there.
- With the snowshoe craze I don't think many folks are doing the full O'Brien run anymore. It used to be there would be a half-dozen skiers going down. Now, snowshoers get a shorter workout.
- The trees in the old clearcut above Divide Road are now fully mature 30-feet high. I remember being able to look over the top of these trees.
I was really glad to finally hit the snowmobile/skier shared portion of the trail. A snowmo track had been covered by about 5 inches of powder, but the trail was considerably easier to break in this final 3 miles.
However, the weight of the snowmobile had broken through the snow bridges and ice in about four spots, and my skis got dunked when they went under the ice crust about a mile from the end in the powerline area.
It took me about 20 miles to scrape and clean my skis that froze up with ice immediately. They got thickly caked with snow as well. Amazingly, 100 feet up the trail I dropped through the ice again and had to repeat my scraping task.
This is a run worth doing at least once a winter, but watch for the openings in the ice.
A Wayne's Wednesday visit to Cadotte Creek
|Snow-shrouded Red Mountain, at 9,411 feet, looms over the Cadotte country|
|Catching our breath after some telemark turns|
|Climbing to the ridge line|
Our Wayne's Wednesday Walks group returned to Cadotte Creek on a cold Great Falls morning, where temperatures were minus 17.
On the West side, just beyond Rogers Pass, we found 20 degrees on Cadotte Creek.
We skied a 5 mile loop, gaining about 1,200 feet enroute, and then spent an hour yo-yoing telemark turns.