Bubble in the desert

A blog I started whilst on a GE "Bubble" assignment in Nevada. I'm back in Cambridge (UK) now but still miss the desert and my friends out there.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Getting to Wild Cat Cabin with back country skies

I left work a little later than planned and we headed up towards Wild Cat cabin to check in. By the time we had our skis on, our snow shoes packed on our backs and were ready to go it was 5pm with an hour until dark.

The backcountry skiing we'd done with Amy had been a little different. Up at Spooner lake, where the cabin is, there are groomed cross-country skiing tracks. This was ok but for 2 things, they were fast and by 5pm they had become very icy. Skiing downhill was extremely sketchy, especially with a heavy rucksack each, carrying our cabin luxuries (wine mainly).

Our first couple of hills were gracelessly slid down with some manner of snow plough going on. The last big hill had a very pretty stream next to the track surrounded by 4ft of powder snow. Had we fallen in it would've been a nast plummet into some icy water - this didn't help our stability.

Ultimately though, the trip to Wild Cat cabin is 2 miles up hill. This began a little easier but when the ice became firmer, which is did at unpredictable spots, and as the slope got steeper, the little fishscales on our skis stopped working. So, a well intentioned slide forward with one foot could see you do an impressive double footed slide backward, turn (backward) and fall (sideways) into the deep snow. There, totally stuck in deep powder under your rucksack with funny hinged skis on. Needless to say we needed a bit of perseverence to get to the cabin. As darkness fell we gave up on the skis and planned to switch to snow shoes, though it was immediately clear the ice was such that we wouldn't need them, our boots were fine.

Eventually, the snow grooming machine (a big catapiller type thing with lights and all manner of mechanical attachments) discovered us. The driver was a superstar and offered to take our packs and skis and drive them to the cabin (a few hundred yards further on). At this we donned our snow shoes and ran in front of the groomer all the way to the cabin - not difficult now we were relieved of our burdens. The groomer driver deserved a medal. he brought our stuff up and even lit the gas lamp in the cabin to get us going.

Even in the dark the hut was both familiar and unfamiliar and very beautiful. Outside the door there is a wooden platform, which is around 4 feet up front the dirt in the summer. This time it was level with the snow, and what snow, at 7,500ft it was deep and powdery for 3ft down. So powdery we could not make a snowball out of it. I'm no longer surprised that eskimos have hundreds of words for snow.

We soon got some hot wine on the stove and cooked dinner. It was minus 5c outside but pretty cosy in a 10ftx12ft log cabin. This place is paradise.


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