Thursday, February 29, 2024

O'Brien Creek: the old reliable

Skiing in a winter wonderland

Jasmine Krotkov in the O'Brien willows

Yes, the creek showed in spots.

 Showdown trumpeted 11 inches overnight, so of course I had to go check it out.

Our plan was to go down O'Brien Creek from Kings Hill Pass to the town of Neihart, expecting to break snow all the way.

What we found was a great track with a couple of inches of powder and some of the best conditions we've had on this 7-mile back country ski in years.  The snow bridges were wonderful, and no snowmobiles had been over the lower stretch.

We covered the route in just under four hours, without any rushing.

I marveled at the regrowth of trees in this area.  I've been skiing it for 43 seasons, starting in 1981, not long after the head of the area had been clearcut and returning trees were hardly knee high.

Now there's a true forest of trees rising to above 30 feet.

And, how things have changed.  Traditionally the half-way point of the trip was an old cabin mid-way through the willows-bottom.

Now, you have to know what you're looking for to find the few timbers of the structure that remain.

Jasmine Krotkov had seen a couple of antlered moose in those willows just a week ago, so we were on high alert, hoping to see those creatures.

No luck, despite seeing ample evidence that they had been stomping through the snow.

One great improvement to the trip is that a road is plowed from the highway to the town water treatment plant.  That saves at least a half-mile of skiing on gravelly and very icy snow.  We parked a car at that plant.

While the winter has produced questionable snow, I've now done the Big 3 back country trails that start at Kings Hill Pass --- Ranch Creek, Deadman and now O'Brien.

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