Sunday, January 01, 2012

Teton closed, but not to us

Sadly, the chairs will be empty this year

We found the empty ski area very inviting
Happy New Year!
We started the year off right with a great backcountry ski trip that took us to Teton Pass Ski Area northwest of Choteau.
The biggest obstacle is getting close enough to the area by car to reach it by skis.
The ski area did not open this year because of difficulties getting insurance.
That means the county doesn't plow the road to the area and it's a crapshoot driving there.  You go as far as the snow lets you.
We got within a couple of miles of the area Sunday, not far from where the bridge crosses the North Fork Teton where it joins Waldron Creek.
I was quite surprised that the snow in this area was good.  We've had only spotty snow and the wind has been cranking non-stop blowing the Front's peaks snow-free.
We found great caches of snow in gullies the wind and sun didn't reach.
It was sad to see this scenic ski area a ghost town of drifted buildings, "closed" signs, and empty chairs on motion-less lifts.
We skinned up and climbed to an area above the highest lift shack and on a second run came down the lift tower clearing.
The snow was a tad heavy but it felt like butter as we cut our turns.
There was good cover, but I still managed to find a couple of rocks that sent me sprawling.
The sky cleared around noon and made for a perfect day of skiing on the first day of the year.
About the only downside of backcountry skiing to this area is that the snowmobiles have found it too and churned up the slopes.  Fortunately, there was plenty of untouched snow.
We were also surprised by the newly paved Teton County Road, resurfaced last summer and this fall from U.S. 89 to the Lewis and Clark National Forest boundary.  This might be one of the nicest highways in the state;  certainly one of the most gorgeous as it works its way to the towering mountains of the Front.

That's right, Little League baseball on Dec. 24 in Loomis, CA, in the Sierra  foothills  where we spent Christmas.

Folsom Lake, a California State Park and the area I hiked daily on my Christmas Break.

A California Christmas break
We spent Christmas at Katie's parents' place in the Sierra foothills near Auburn, CA.  We had wonderful weather and drove from Montana, spending four days there.
I hiked daily in the foothills on a National Recreation Trail within the Folsom Lake State Recreation Area.
We had gorgeous weather, in the 60s during the day and in the 30s at night.
As has been the case in most of the West, there is little snow in the High Sierras.  Donner Pass was free of snow and the only ski area in sight was making snow in the absence of the natural white stuff.
The coldest weather we encountered was in northern Nevada where temperatures were minus 8, but so clear of snow it looked like summer outside.
We had hauled along our winter play gear like snowshoes, but we had no use for them.

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