|Porphyry Lookout on a spectacular bluebird Jan. 2|
|Flocked trees, perfect powder, gorgeous sky|
|Off in the distance the highest peak in the Little Belts, Big Baldy|
|After a tele turn in Jumping Creek upper reaches|
I followed New Year's skiing with Days 2 and 3 of 2018 in the Little Belts enjoying great weather and incredible powder.
On Tuesday I went solo up Porphyry Peak at the Showdown Ski Area, down Trail 727 to a snowmobile road and explored logging roads until I hooked up to the O'Brien Creek Trail and back to Kings Hill Pass. The weather sparkled, bluebird skies and radiant heat despite 18 degree temperatures.
Wednesday our Wayne's group went up Porphyry and followed the Trail 747 ridge trail past the Mizpah bowls to U.S. 89 and Jumping Creek trailhead, a distance of 8.6 miles, with an elevation gain of 1,400 feet and a loss of 2,600 feet. The weather was wintry, with snow falling along the ridge. I was surprised when we hit rocky slopes beyond the Ranch Creek bowls, and then found extensive extant logging along the bottom two miles to the car. The snow was otherwise excellent, but I think I'll pass on this run in the future. We found unstable snow conditions as it settled with "thunder" underneath our skis. We saw considerable moose and elk sign on the ridges.
We had to re-learn the lesson we've so often encountered ---- separating on a trip.
There were five of us. We set out independently for the top, two of us thinking the plan was to meet at Top Rock Cafe, where we we eat and regroup before the long ridge run. We took the Prentiss Run up to the top. The other three went around the back side road where the Porphyry Lookout is located. They saw my tracks from the day before and kept on skiing, while the two of us sat at the cafe waiting for the group. About a half hour into the wait we realized something was wrong, and went to check the ski tracks at the lookout area, some 500 feet from the cafe. The tracks indicated the group had pushed on. By the time we got ourselves together, we had waited for an hour on top, and we hurried along the trail, hoping to catch the group, which we did at the warming hut on Mizpah Peak. Too many assumptions here.......
|Our Jumping Creek route marked in brighter red|