Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Winter Solstice in the Little Belts

Gordon Whirry shuffles past the Porphry Peak lookout

Lucky for us, we had marked this rarely used trail last fall, making the trip easier
Winter is "officially" here, although it has seemed like we've been it her clutches for several weeks now.
We got out on one of our "Wayne's" backcountry ski trips on the start of winter at Kings Hill, opting for the 4-mile Trail 747 loop that starts at the pass, climbs Porphyry Peak at Showdown, a half-mile south down the ridge on Trail 727 where it meets the Trail 747 cutoff trail that descends just under a mile to an old logging road that is a snowmobile trail in the winter.  A couple of miles down this road and it meets the O'Brien Creek backcountry ski trail.  It ascends about three-quarters mile to the Showdown Ski Area and then back to Kings Hill Pass.
It been almost violently cold for the past two weeks, with temperatures getting only as high as 10 degrees and as low as 27 below, only to be replaced by cold winds that have blown the snow around.
This was a relatively tough ski today because we had to break trail beyond the ski area and down to the snowmobile trail, where, luckily, tracks were laid, making our ski back somewhat easier.
Because of the cold, the snow hasn't set up yet and while there are a couple of feet of powder it hasn't consolidated, leaving it without a base.  That means sinking in the snow and fighting to get the skis back to the surface.
While it was blowing in the morning, the sun finally broke through around 11 a.m., and it was spectacularly sunny.
This is probably the last ski for 2016 with a Christmas Eve storm coming in.
I look forward to a great 2017!

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