Thursday, December 24, 2009

O'Brien and Shorty Creeks ahead of Christmas

H. Wayne Phillips pulls a turn on O'Brien Creek slope
The weather has been downright Christmasy!
Lots of great snow and cold, cold temperatures.
To get us in the mood we skied O’Brien Creek on Wednesday and snowshoed Shorty Creek on Christmas Eve.
We hit below zero temps on both days.
Finally, the sky cleared on Wednesday after nearly a week of gray gloom and ice storms. Now I’ll have more empathy for those who live on the west side of the mountains.
O’Brien Creek is always fun. We did a variation at the trip’s beginning, climbing to the top of Golden Goose on Showdown Ski Area and heading north and east, dropping to the O’Brien Creek trail via backcountry reckoning.
On that stretch we broke deep snow.
Once we hit the trail we could pick up the tracks Jasmin Kratkov put down on Sunday when she broke trail. At Divide Road we began to pick up snowmobile tracks and a moose had used her trail as well.
The snowmobilers really tore up the shared portion of the trail leaving deep bumps and ruts that had frozen over, giving us obstacles to overcome.
In the area where the rocks come down to the powerlines we found a couple of holes exposing the creek. Caution here!
Otherwise the snow bridges were in and easy to find and cross.
At day’s end Jasmin had arranged for a couple new to Neihart, Daryl Dunkle and Katie Sterges, to give us a lift back to the top. It was fun meeting this accomplished backcountry couple in their new digs parked right off U.S. 89 where it intersects with the O’Brien Creek Road. They’ve most recently resided in Cooke City, but also lived in West Glacier, Whitefish and the West Kootenai. They are avid mountain bikers, backcountry skiers and mountain bikers. I’m looking forward to getting to know these two.
On Christmas Eve my wife, Katie, and I, did a short snowshoe trip up (appropriately enough) Shorty Creek, a main tributary of O’Brien Creek. There was no good base and breaking trail was quite the chore. On the way back, though, we enjoyed the snowshoes on our trail-pack.
Icy, icy cold.
Merry Christmas!

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