The cold front on Friday eve and Saturday underdelivered. Following a week of warm mountain temps, overnight clearing and freezing air set up a hard crust by Saturday morning. Snow finally started after noon, gently and sweetly. By four o’clock the warm front arrived with a wet, sloppy kiss: noisy fury of wind overhead in the trees, intense showers and drippy branches. A warmish 37° continued for the rest of the weekend.
Under such weather conditions, a warm and dry winter shelter is especially treasured.
Unfortunately, that evening at the Tilly Jane Guard Station I didn’t have any company, fellow ONC-Gorge members or other. The dim prospects for fine weather discouraged the handful of the willing and planning members.
Lucky for me, there were ten hearty winter travelers just a short walk away at the Tilly Jane A-Frame. I joined the rustic mirth of fellow ONC’ers and their volunteers as we shared bits of drink and dinner and tales, huddled around the big woodstove. That little meal and merriment was a highlight of the weekend. Finally meeting Gorge member Darren B earlier that day was another highlight. (Darren was solo at the GS cabin Friday, but is seeking more company next time.)
After finishing cabin business Sunday morning, I descended on the tele-skis that I’d packed up the day before. The snow was so soft that my skis would sometimes sink instead of glide. Making turns in wet snow with sinking skis was tricky. I started in the Burn area by Tilly Jane Creek canyon, crossed Darn Ditch and then the main TJ Ski Trail near “Andre’s Rock”, blazed trail across the Burn and Doe Creek drainage to meet up with the Polallie Ridge Trail (#643-A). The fun ended there as the Ridge trail had so much tree fall and sketchy snow pack. Nearly running out of any snow, I finally got to the Cooper Spur Ski Area where I pretended to be an Alpine skier and completed the descent. Like I had said, Fun! – just not the easy kind that comes with plush amounts of powder snow.