Thursday, February 21, 2008

The Red Moon Trail

Katie skiing Deadman during lunar eclipse
How could we resist?
There was a lunar eclipse of the full moon on Wednesday night, and a group of seven of us skied the 8-mile Deadman Ridge Trail to get the best vantage point we could.
We were not disappointed.
We arrived at the trailhead just after 7 p.m., and as we crested the ridge the earth cast its quick shadow across the bright lunar orb, darkening the landscape.
As we were getting used to the pitch black, the myriad of stars popped and twinkled in the sky. Picking out the planets and constellations was no problem.
Then the moon turned an orange-red color before disappearing again, and during a two hour period reappeared, lighting up the trail.
It was about a perfect a show as one could want.
The weather cooperated completely. Not only was the sky clear, but the temperature was about 15 degrees, perfect for skiing, and there was no wind.
Our only complaint was that the daytime temperatures had thawed and melted the snow and the cold nighttime air had fashioned a crust on it. That made skiing somewhat dicey.
My wife and I negotiated the steep terrain with climbing skins. We're glad we did. The rest in our party didn't and many took nasty spills.
While most of the skiers used headlamps, I could find my way around nicely without a lamp. I tried to stay ahead of the group so I could see the sky and stars more clearly.
This won't happen again in this area for another 9 years.
It was well worth the effort, although we didn't get off trail until midnight and didn't get back to Great Falls until past 1 a.m. It made getting up for work difficult at best.
Wayne Phillips, who conceived the trip, said afterward that perhaps we should change the name of the run from Deadman to Red Moon for the lunar color during the eclipse.

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