A portion of a USGS map is available for use with this report - I'd suggest opening a separate window. The map may take a bit to load, but it is worth it if you are interested in the geography of the area - USGS MAP LINK
Here's the road on the way into the cabin. The snow banks were enormous. If you take a close look ahead in the road, you can see that the bank in front of Mango's car is actually slightly higher than the car itself. The snowbank on the right is none too shabby either ;)
The end of the line. This is where we had to stop because the road was no longer plowed. We debated taking James' truck (not pictured, but much bigger than that little red one!) up and over the bank, but decided even that would be a joke. From here on in we had to hike.
J.Spin gets ready for the hike. Due to the supplies we were carrying, he had two packs on his back. It felt like a ski trip, hiking trip, and camping trip all rolled into one. At least it felt that way to our backs!
The old sled that we had borrowed from Carl (owner of the cabin) was on it's last legs. In the left picture you can see that it actually lost one of its legs (as well as a good portion of the bottom) as soon as we started out. In the right picture you can see the additional baggage we would have to carry :( Needless to say, the propane tank did not make the trip ;)
E stops along the trail for a picture. In the background is a south view of the Lowell Mountains in which we will be skiing. They rise to an altitude of about 2700 feet above sea level, and offer about 1000 vertical feet of skiing on the southeast side where we would be staying.
Finally we arrived at the cabin after a 1.5 mile hike. The front porch of the cabin is actually about four feet off the ground, but is now just about level with the deep snow. The snow on the roof is also a good indicator of the amount of snow in the area. Fortunately the cabin is quite sturdy, and holds up to the heavy snow loads quite well. The cabin sits on the the southeastern edge of the Lowell Mountains at an altitude of approximately 1700 feet. It would serve as our base for skiing activities.
James waves to the camera as he pauses from breaking trail near the beginning of the hike . It was a beautiful day with mostly sunny conditions and temperatures in the 20s. Sure, he's happy at this point, but wait until his socks start to bunch up higher on the trail.
Mango moves on up the trail with his vintage wooden snowshoes. You can see that even with snowshoes, we were still sinking into the snow about 1-2 feet and leaving quite a swath. As camera operator, I had the luxury of following in the nicely broken trail at the back of the pack ;)
Dave pauses along the trail after leading the pack and breaking trail with James. Dave was extremely excited about the trip; his first up to ski with us and his first backcountry of the season.
The view looking southeast from near the top. The land immediately to the southeast of the Lowell Mountains is relatively devoid of major peaks.
Chris and E blazed the last portion of the trail and set up a changing area of "relatively" packed snow. It was still best to keep you snowshoes close at hand until you were safely in your skis; regular boots would still result in postholing up to your waist at times.
Ahh, the rewards of a good hike! The snow was in the 8-10% H2O range, requiring a good blue to black pitch for maintaining speed. J.Spin works his way down one of the first pitches of our chosen route back to the cabin. Chris was on his snowshoes and did a great job of filming. The other members of the group took off in a frenzy of powder lust and missed out on some great lines for video. We had to catch up with them a little farther down the slope.
Thank goodness there was enough pitch to keep going in the deep stuff! The words "bottomless powder" were certainly accurate for the day.
James and J.Spin try to synchronize some turns through the trees. James got his pole tangled on J.Spin's wrist so they had no choice but to stay together!
Mango finds himself half buried as we continue our descent. It takes plenty of snow to get deep on Mango.
Dave squeaks his way between two trees as the slope flattens out.
E finds her own line off to the skier's right. She did her best to avoid the camera, but Chris caught her just in time ;)
Dave blasts his way down one of the steep pitches near the end of the route. This picture was one of my favorites, even if it was a bit dark.
James works his way down among the trees; very little underbrush made it easy to find lines.
All good trips must come to an end. Mango skates his way back to the cars, loaded to the hilt with supplies. You can probably see his shovel sticking out the top, but in addition he's got a large gas lantern in there somewhere, as well as who knows what else. Thankfully it was a downhill route. It started snowing heavily as we left, and we picked up enough new snow to make us worry about the driving back to the main roads.