Monday, March 16, 2009

Winter Update (part I)

Now that the time has changed and I’ve somewhat adjusted to getting up even an hour earlier, I guess it is time to come out of hibernation. That and my mom has been asking me to update this blog and post some photos from the trips.

I have had a pretty good winter so far. After taking a few weeks off and just lounging around after the end of the ‘cross season, Margi and I went on a great ski trip up to Canada. As a Christmas gift to each other, we had 4 nights/5 days at the SOL Mountain Lodge in the Monashee Mountains in Central BC. It was definitely the most posh backcountry ski trip either of us had been on. It started with an incredible Helicopter ride in to the lodge (my first), and was followed by 5 days of hilarity thanks to a bunch of wacky Canadians. Even with temps dropping near -20 F (that's not a typo) we had a great time, and got in some really good skiing. Some photos.

After Christmas I headed off to the Wallowas and Halfway Oregon for a Level II avalanche safety course. It was great course, got to learn a lot and get in some good skiing in beautiful terrain. And as a bonus, one of the instructors was Allen O’Bannon, co-author of Allen and Mike’s Really Cool Telemark Tips. Sadly though, Allen wasn’t even on Telemark gear, he was (gasp) on Dynafits!

That trip was followed by six weeks of unusually cold and dry weather. The lack of new snow forced me back on the bike. Luckily we had planned yet another trip, this one to a yurt in the Smokey Mountains in Central Idaho. It was a reunion trip of sorts, with myself Margi and our friends Beth, Ryan, Ben and Celia (of Wild Heart Cycling) and their friend Matt. All of us, except Matt, had gone on a trip together to the Wallowas 3 years ago, hence the reunion theme. It was a great trip. We got lucky with the weather, as the that pesky high pressure that was responsible for the previous dry weather was starting to budge allowing some storms to make their way from N. Cali up to Idaho. We had several dumps of 4-6” with around a foot total during the trip. Enough to make for some great skiing but not so much that the avy conditions got out of hand. Even if the snow hadn’t been good, the company would have easily made up for it. Had lots of laughs, and got in a lot of skiing, close to 9 hours each day. Even got to name a few new ski runs: Socks on Fire (in honor of Ben’s sock that fell on the stove at 2am and stunk the hell out of the place) and Yum-Yum, Ha-Ha (after the newest backcountry game). One added bonus of the trip is that our friend Ryan is also a professional photographer, so we got some great photo documentation from the trip. Check ‘em out here. And if you’re getting married, or know someone who is, you should check him out, he does great work and is a great guy. I took a few shots, so did Margi, and Matt.

On the way home from Idaho we made an impulsive stop at the Anthony Lakes ski area. A classic local ski hill with one 900’ foot lift. Even though it was a Friday, the 9” of fresh snow meant the place was packed, with a full parking lot. Ok, so that really meant there were 30 cars there. Pretty funny. One of the best parts of Anthony lakes is that they let you buy a one ride ticket for $6. Since we had all our backcountry gear with us, we went for the one-ride ticket, rode up and headed out of bounds for some fresh turns. Extra double bonus? It was a bluebird day and we had a professional photographer. Yup, photoshoot day. Overall a pretty sweet trip, the sign pretty much sums it up:

(The Obama admin should look into Haines for some economic recovery)

Now that the winter trips are over, we’re balancing time on the bike with some time taking advantage of the late winter dumps we have been getting these past few weeks. And just enjoying some time at home.