Oh, MAN! How fun is THIS PLACE?? Okay. Lets start here. I spent seven (count em SEVEN) hours getting ready. What the heck, Kate? Well, I learned well from my mom that you plan ALL your meals out in advance, and pack them in big freezer bags, and label them (Sat lunch) etc. And I made myself a great little luxury bed in the back of the truck, and packed regular clothes separate from ski clothes...
Yes, I know its insane. But hey, I was well prepared! Didn't take anything extra, and got to spend all my time playing rather than stressing. So there.
The drive out to Red Lodge was amazing, I've never been out there. Rolling green hills and the occasional house or cow, lots of horses. It took about 2 1/2 hours to get there, and then I met up with Josh Spohler and John Faunce to ski the Gardener Headwall.
Driving up into the Beartooths was amazing, you can clearly see the glacial cut of the valley, and as you drive up and up and up, you finally plateau, and its like driving on a road on the top of the world. A very bizarre experience, I've never been on a road in a place like this, I've only hiked in... it reminds me of stuff I saw in Alaska.
So we get there, to this turn out, and there are ALL these people with their skis on! Good God! And I realize, this is like sport climbing for skiers! Super easy access, and you just have to hike out whatever you ski down, so you only pay for the turns you make, no protracted 12 mile skin in before you summit and get your 12 turns.
Holy CRAP, its like Mecca! Yeah!
So the first day, we skied this, the Gardiner Headwall, and I opted to take my new Volkl Attiva's out for the day, even though they weigh more than TWICE what my other skis weigh. But I figured, what the heck, train heavy, ski light, right? I'm glad I took em, it was the most like water skiing so far!
I was nervous as we hiked over, and Josh said it was because of exposure, but I actually really really like exposure and that fall away out in space here is my humanity feeling, I think it was because I haven't skied in front of him in months, and while we are friends, he's also a bit of a mentor for me on skis, and I want him to believe I can make it to the D team, so i didn't want to ski like an idiot in front of him. The headwall turned out to be not quite as steep as I expected, which was great.
Thanks in part to the fact that there was no skinning involved, I didn't ski like a complete imbecile like I usually do in the back country, but i was a bit in the back seat, not wanting to go over the handlebars anymore. So I skied it a bit more conservatively than i would have liked, and I think the skis drove me most of the day.
We did three laps on the headwall, (Josh and John did another, but I wanted to save my legs for the Reefer the next day) and Josh just put a bootpack in that sucker and we hiked RIGHT back up what we skied rather than taking the long way round. Coolio.
Josh's super hard core incredibly beautiful mom skied with us. I was so psyched, the whole day was low key, nothin' to prove, just ski and have fun and eat lunch and get a sunburn. (In my ARMPIT. OW.)
That night, a bit sore, we drove down to our campsite, bid Josh's mom adeau, and headed in for a BBQ at Zoe and Scotts, (old friends of Josh). They both race bikes, and Zoe teaches skiing at Red Lodge. She rips it up from what I've heard.
Dinner was awesome, they have a beautiful old farmhouse that they moved to their rather large property in the middle of nowhere, and Scott rebuilt it by hand over the course of about 7 years. What a serene existence, I gotta tell you. They were super fun people, and the night was a relaxed blast... I gotta say, I haven't sat outside in the evening air and drank beer till the sun went down without a care in the world in...uh... 6 1/2 years? Or so? I've been away, but I was always worried about the kids and Tom and if it was okay that I was gone...
This time, Tom stayed with the kids by himself for the first time ever, and we both felt like it shouldn't be that big a deal, so even though I didn't have cell reception, I was not worried even a bit. How nice. I can't tell you how nice.
That night, after hooking up with Claire (also from the Bridger ski school) we headed back up to camp (despite repeated protests that we could stay with Zoe and Scott, and we would have but all our crap was back at camp...), and tucked in for the night.
Wait, wait, before that I remember Faunce sitting on my tail gate at like 11pm sort of screaming in Josh's direction "mmff grr long board lets GO mudda fuckah down the hill you got this ACTION!" and Josh going "Faunce, you need to be more quiet!" and Faunce going "Wanna PIECE of this? Get your board, lets go FAST! Mfff mff grr" and Josh saying "Good night, Faunce." and Fonzie then proceeded to tuck his extreme ass into bed and snore away.
Here are some pics from the campsite the next morning, Faunce miraculously NOT nursing a severe hangover, Claire and Josh rarein' to go... and Roz, not eating her breakfast...
The next day we trucked back up that amazing mountain and parked over by Reefer, a long moderate chute that winds around and dumps into a beautiful bowl. We skied the bowl all day, I think I did five laps total, in different chutes, two of which were pretty steep! And then Josh told me to get out of the backseat, esp on the steeps, so my last 2 laps, I was actually skiing for real, which was great, and fun and felt powerful, but I skied over our bootpack (whoops!) like five times. Duh.
It was interesting to try and just ski, not think, and listen to what my body was doing. I did not feel my mass traveling down through an arc created by my feet this time, but I did glance down and notice that I wasn't A-framing as much as I usually do. The snow was really heavy and wet, so I thought most about progressive edges (from Andy's carving clinic) and that elbow below hand pole plant to level and stay moving down the hill. I got wound a couple of times, but the last two felt more aggressive, easier, more simlutanious. I also did my first back country hop turn! Go Kate! Of course, I did it because I sideslipped off the lip I was supposed to sort of huck off of, and I was up against some rocks, and I didn't want to waste a turn by doing a little falling leaf to get back over away. So I just prayed I wouldn't pull a SuperKate and managed to bring 'em around and ski out. Okay. I skied out with a big dumb grin on my face, doing large radius turns and spraying snow behind me. For those three turns, I was a rockstar. And then I nearly ate it. So I knew I was back in the front seat! (If a bit of a superkate, anyhow...)
It was a great day, sunny, warm, fun... we ditched our packs at the bottom and had a nice warm lunch rock to lay on after every lap. Josh kept his eye on this big crazy storm system that was threatening, and eventually, around 3pm we hiked back out.
The hike was long, but I am super psyched to report that it wasn't painful. I would say that it took a bit more than moderate work to hike it out, and I would have skied a couple more laps if the gang was up for it. I am really amazed at that, this is the first time ever I haven't been in pain, sucking wind, and just hoping my legs would have SOMETHING left by the time we got there. I felt strong, fit, and ready to go all day. YEAH!
And Ms. Claire completed her first back country adventure, hiking hard, spinning laps, and basically kicking ass all over the place. Sucks to be a hot skiing babe like her, no? WOW.
We threw on our shorts and had a beer by the side of the road while we watched this incredible storm system approach, covering the Teetons in a purple black cloud and just looking fierce. While it was still sunny for us, that storm was fast approaching.
Time to go home and hug my hubby, snuggle the kiddos and take a shower! YUCK! Man was I a sweaty mess! But I felt so so so damn good.
The drive back was just as spectacular, minus the ipod, which had died. It was so much fun, we are going back next weekend! But we are gonna take the kids and do super low angle stuff. Very excited!
Off to the gym tonight after a day of thunderstorms and movies...