Tuesday, October 01, 2019

Record snowfall+record cold=We're skiing Oct. 1!

White everywhere on our drive to the trailhead.

Our drive was on sometimes scary one-lane road

On the trail

The river far below 
Mark at lunch under the sun

We stopped for some turns in this area

The snowy Dearborn with colorful aspens
It has been only four months and eight days since our last backcountry ski trip, but up to 4 feet of snow in the Front and temperatures as low as a record 9 degrees in Great Falls (and a record 19.9 inches of snow) made skiing a logical choice on Tuesday.
And, the sky turned a bright blue and there was no wind.
That big, wet snow deposited a pretty good base.  I didn't hit bottom all day, although a couple of rocks did show up.
The earliest I remembered skiing was around Oct. 5.
Oct. 1 is some kind of record, too.
We headed up through Augusta to the Dearborn, hoping the roads had been plowed and we might try Falls Creek.
The ride up was pretty hairy, sometimes down to one lane with piles of snow making it impossible to pull over should another car coming in the other direction would want get by.  We were lucky there was only one car and there was space for it to pull over and let us by.
Even in the dead of winter I've rarely seen so much snow in the fields and on the peaks.  It was white in every direction.
When we got to Falls Creek the parking lot had not been plowed.  We hoped that there would be space somewhere near the Dearborn River Trailhead for us to pull over, or maybe even the Christian school and camp across the road.
To our surprise the lot had been cleared and then a truck came up behind us.
Kraig Lang, the retired Forest Service Wilderness Ranger, immediately got out and came over and we renewed our acquaintances.  He had led me and Mark Hertenstein on a hydrology survey through the Bob Marshall Wilderness some 13 years ago.
He said the big storm came in while he was back in a hunter's camp and he was returning to pick up his trucks.  Through the snow he crossed the Divide and had left his horses near Indian Meadows not far from Lincoln on the other side of the Divide.  He was exhausted from riding some 20 solid hours to get out.
We skied in only a couple miles, just beyond the Forest Service property line, but we took side trips to the lip of a couple of overlooks to admire the blue sky, the bright sun, the emerald water and the sparkling snows that accentuated the rugged Steamboat Mountain cliffs above us.  On the way back we stopped to do some of the season's first tele turns.  The deep snow made them sluggish.

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