Wednesday, February 06, 2008
This past weekend I went on a 2 night ski trip to the Tilly Jane cabin on the North East side of Mt. Hood. Three friends and I (pictured below: Me, J, Shawn, Elliott) left Friday and didn't get on the trail till 3:00 PM. It's a 2.5 mile trip uphill on telemark skis with about 40 lbs. in our packs. There is currently about 185" of snow on the mountain!
The sun set with about an hour to go to the cabin and we skied on into the darkness. The temperature dropped as quick as the setting sun and the winds began to whip. The thought of being lost out here sent a chill through me. When we reached the cabin we could just see the peak of the roof sticking up from the snow. We slid down the tunnel into the first floor entry and got a fire going in the woodstove. Ahhh, shelter.
We had the cabin to ourselves the first night. The next day we went on a little 2.5 mile loop up to the timberline. I had never been in snow this deep before. One could not walk here without the aid of skis or snowshoes because one would sink up to the waist.
When we returned there were 5 others and 2 dogs occupying the cabin. We made a big pot of chili and played some spades. I also went out before sunset to test my winter fire making skills. I collected some dead, semi-dry twigs from the trees (which I believe were Mt. Hemlock) and proceeded to strip the bark with my knife. Once I had enough to make a fist-full size bundle, I ignited a match and held it beneath. The flame hesitantly crept up the bundle crackling and popping the pitchey twigs. Soon it was a solid flame. I let it burn out satisfied in knowing that I was at least capable of starting a fire with one match if need be.
I had also intended to build a snow cave to sleep in one night but the warmth of a woodstove, a little port and good friends was more appealing than a dark claustrophobic snow cave!
This was my first time really on skis and I had no problem adapting to the flats and climbs but the downhill back to the car on Sunday left me hurtin'. The grueling hills on the trail up were scary fast on the way down! I kept the skins on my skis to slow my descent but it was still damn fast. Telemark skis require a special turning technique that I have yet to grasp. Instead I bombed down the mountain and slowed myself with the frequent face plant. At one point my skis dug into a drift and my backpack kept going forward sending me flipping head over heels landing on my butt with my skis pointed straight up! It was fun. My body is paying the price for it this week though. My back and shoulders ache. It hurts to ride my bike. I need a massage!
(thanks Elliott for the photos)