Saturday, May 31, 2008

The Adventure Begins...

The very first idea for this week was to head out to Emigrant Peak, just past Chico Hot springs in Paradise Valley. All the peaks out there are so majestic, huge, with lines that just beg to be skied. Every time we drive with the kids out to Chico, I sit in the car and stare at those coulars and wonder if I'll ever get up there to ski them.

With plans for a huge skiing posse that fell off one by one, Kurt and I headed to Chico intent on skiing Emigrant, then heading over to Cooke City to ski some of the epic deep snow on the Top of the World, then travel over the scenic Beartooth Pass and down to Red Lodge where we'd hook up with the rest of the group.

Sounds like an amazing ski trip, no? Unfortunately, warm (ish) temps, cloud cover and rain are wreaking havoc with our plans. Its just not getting cold enough at night to freeze the snow well at any elevation below 10,000 ft. And because of this, the snowpack is becoming very unstable as it becomes more and more rotten, but there is still a LOT of snow, so things are sliding all over the place.

We had the possibility of skiing Emigrant peak, which is high enough and looked beautiful to climb, and we drove up the dirt road out into this tight choked off valley, but came across, you guessed it, a huge avalanche which had slid down and made an enormous snow bridge over the little river running through there. We couldn't drive the truck over the talus, broken trees and snow, so we hiked up quite a ways, but the snow level was still so far away that we would have needed a 2am start, with no guarantees that the snow would be skiable when we got up there!

Needless to say, we enjoyed the hike anyway, and chose not to ski emigrant. After a soak in Chico's amazing hot springs, we hit the road and headed in the direction of Cooke City to see what was skiable there.

This was Kurt's first time through Yellowstone, and it was a great day to drive through! Windy but sunny, the Bison were all over the place, it was like Bison Festival day. The elk were out grazing at Mammoth Hot Springs, as usual, a beautiful red fox was hanging out right by the road hunting, the Bison Calves were laying in the sun, there were Osprey nests, an Antelope... I saw more wildlife in that one drive through the park then I've seen in all my trips combined!!

We pulled in to Cooke City, which is kind of in between seasons right now, and got directions back to the...

THE PASS IS OPEN! GOTTA GO! More adventures later!!

OH, ps, I have lots of photos starting from the next morning after the camera was charged.

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