Walking the Planks

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Been a while since I was up here in snow mode…

It’s been a long time since I was on skis; 18 months to be precise.  Last winter I spent all my free time (and more) running my way into some semblance of fitness for Bighorn.  No, the last time I was on planks was in May of 2014 when I made a ski descent of Horseshoe Mountain.  It wasn’t super-pretty, but I wore skis the whole way down and only fell about ten times.  Technicalities count, right?

This winter: no ridiculous ultra training, time to get back on the snow.  After thirteen punishing weeks of teaching and with a large winter storm and gluttonous holiday on the horizon, the time was right to reacquint myself with the backcountry skis.

As usual, I headed for East Portal to shake out the bugs in the system and remember which end of the skis pointed forward.  It’s a good spot with typically good snow and some great treeline glades up high near Rogers Pass and Heart Lakes.

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A few of the things I’m thankful for.

It was a bit of a slog up to tree line, but the weather was great and the snow surprisingly lush for this time of year.  I had a lovely sandwich before switching into downhill mode.  Ah, first time on skis in a long time! Whee!  But I wobbled and fell and wobbled and fell some more on even the wide-open terrain up near the lakes.  By the time I got down into the trees, it was terrifying and hopeless.  I persisted through the low-angle stuff until the junction with the Crater Lakes trail. After that I chickened out and re-donned my skins to slow me down a little on the steep, icy, narrow tree runs down to the big meadow.

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Mountain therapy.

Was I always this bad at backcountry, or is this a new thing?  It’s a poor workman that blames his tools, but perhaps my skis are horrendously unsharp or something.  Maybe it’s just the first trip of the season that is to blame.  I need to get into ski shape and get out there again… or maybe something a little more mellow on skis a little beefier and easier to control.

Still, it’s hard to find fault with a beautiful day in a beautiful location and I’m thankful I have the ability to (more or less) do this sort of thing.  Here’s to a winter of more time on skis.

 

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