Wednesday, April 27, 2011

part time spring

was last weekend our spring? no, i am sure not,but it was absolutely nice, even for those of you who want winter to last until july. and really, i can no longer say we are in "winter", i might call it springter. cool, damp and gray. rain that could turn into snow at any moment. trails trying to dry, but then getting wetter. mid elevation snowpack that really has not even begun to melt, and higher mountain snowpack that has been growing.

you all wanted "la nina" and now it will not let go.

that all being said, the skiing has been great. and if we could just get some stable weather, we might get some great peak opportunities.

trails are slowly drying. i finally got on my bike yesterday, on a trail. an update from others around town. the Whitefish Trail is in good shape. with many open areas from recent logging, and much of it on south facing slopes, a fair amount is in great shape. even towards beaver lake has been reported clear and ridable.
spencer mountain is ridable, if you are willing to walk thru and around a lot of snow. probably best to leave it alone for another week or so.
pig farms are somewhat dry and clear, but recent winter logging has many trails covered with debris and branch trimming. turns out, leaving fresh cut branches on the ground actually allows them to lose some of the nitrogen they have held in their greenery back into the soil. this is a good thing. but after about a year, the nitrogen is gone from the branches, and they become a fire hazard if they are not piled up and burned. so management of logging is not done yet. Or is it? i will be watching.

i don't think the trails on the big mountain are quite ready yet. maybe august?

certainly it would be a great time to head for some climbing, but again , the weather has not been too helpful. well, last weekend would have been perfect. would have been good for camping as well. cool at night, but not cold, and clear, so you would not have been scurrying to your tent right after eating. i am hoping for another break this weekend, but it does not look super promising.

anyone reading this. i am going to be heading up the new "bike patrol/ambassador" program for the Whitefish Trail. this will be a volunteer patrol, but should be a lot of fun and may have some basic training for first aid and bike maintenance, as well as some pro deal help thru IMBA. if anyone is interested, they can sign up at sportsman, glacier cyclery or great northern cyclery. they can also call heidi at Whitefish Legacy Partners, at 862 3880, or sign up on line on the WLP website. but the easiest way might be to just call me, chris miller, 862 4281.

hope to hear from a few. lets hope for some sunny warm days, and cool clear nights, and we can all enjoy the favorite things we like to do. (unless your favorite things is to go for long walks in 45 degree rain, which is by the way, our two dogs favorite thing, but not ours)

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

winter, round two

winter is back!! with avengence.

i must admit i am ready for all things spring, but the weather is not cooperating, so what can you do? go skiing silly! sure,you may be over it, but biking, boating, fishing, etc really are not happening yet.

the easiest right now, is of course, hiking up the big. convenient, fast and amazing coverage. i am headed up shortly, as i need some exercise before a series of meetings (boo) and my other options are bleak. but should get some powder turns in.

then, most places of backcountry relevance are in great shape. a word of wisdom though, if you are planning on a snowmobile ride, think it thru. i can assure you, that spider bowl/basin, the machine is not justified. too much dirt, but not until we were sufficiently faked out and rode a solid half mile. after a mile of walking on dirt, we came by a suby parked just before the real snow had started. so some areas might seem good for a ride before a hike, but you may be wasting time and energy to get there. (all this after a frustrating morning getting my sled affixed to my truck, in a system not yet perfected. this in turn made me late, so driving a bit fast into c-falls to meet our friends at coffee traders, i got pulled over just as i was slowing down. today i seek out the judge to determine my punishment. so my hard luck concerning snowmobile days continues) after that the hiking went fine for another while, but as we got higher and steeper, the hiking became unruly and slick. very frustrating at all positions on the climb. so when we got to the first good place for descent, with nnw aspect, looking nearly perfect, we ripped hide and prepared for some turns. following the two gals, i was certain the turns would be bliss, as that is how they made it out to be. but it was not the case. there was a difficult and at times treacherous crust layer buried about 8-12 inches down. up high it was negociable, but got worse on the descent. finally, as new snow gave way to old, and lower elevation created more spring conditions, the skiing became a bit more consistent. this was not a day that anyone put in the record books, but we got out with smile and laughs and agreed to look forward to other more promising days ahead. at least, we all agreed, it was better than staying home and watching nascar.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

back to winter

well, peak skiing has probably not been the top of the list this past week, as winter has returned, with lots of new snow and more time in powder and the trees. after some too warm weather creating some gloppy conditions, things cooled off over the weekend and another foot has dropped.

with only five days left on the hill, it seems like some people are burnt out on winter and ready for spring, as it has been empty. sure, we could all enjoy some sun and spring conditions, but it is what it is, and the sun will come. i am ready to hop on my bike so much, but i guess as long as it is snowing, i am going.

of course, the end of the season always brings on some fun events, such as last frabert, pond skim ( the only redeeming value of the pond skim is it seems like income to our friend and bartending extradinaire, raggy) but i still miss the furniture race. unique to the world and crazy fun. sure, it was dangerous, but so is life. last day is always a blast. the party at the top, a huge crowd at the stube polishing off the last of scott's beer and perhaps their beer cards. and for those who still go, the patrol party is still a hoot. but don't drink and drive. take a cab. it is not like our city cops don't know what day it is.

then for employees, it is one more day, but for the rest of us, it is usually back to work, a bit of a hollow feeling knowing the lifts are closed and the comraderie that is winter and having one place to congregate is over. but summer, when it comes really makes this place special, so truly, it becomes just another season of the year to look forward to.