Tuesday, January 27, 2009

More goodness

A few of us went out skiing this past Sunday. It was quite a bit colder and grayer than our prior outing, but visibility was good enough and there was some sweet new snow. We parked near the large bend in the road near the bottom-center of the map and skinned northward toward the peak at the top-center of the map (the dashed line designates the Wilderness Area boundary).

With Aaron leading the charge, skinning was easy. We worked our way up a snowed-in creek bed, and through a few clearings......eventually working our way up through a timbered slope (which we later got some great turns on...Keri and Joy on the way up:Eventually, we worked our way through the trees and got to the base of a steep, open face. Since the snow has been marginal all year, we dug a snowpit and performed a compression test. After getting a clean, smooth break about two feet deep on the third elbow tap, we decided we were high enough and pointed our tips down.Heading up for another lap:
While we were heading up for our second lap, we got inundated with snowmobiles. While snowmobiles are an unfortunate fact of life while skiing Togwotee Pass, we had hoped to avoid them this day since we were on the border of Wilderness Area (where they are outlawed).

Sometimes I think there must be something about riding a snowmobile that makes people stupid. As we approached the top of our run, near where we dug our snowpit and found the avalanche-prone layer, a snowmobiler blasted up the steep slope we turned away from and got stuck 90% of the way up (right where you might expect an avalanche crown). Despite the clinic these folks administered on what not to do in avalanche country, the slope held. And its a good thing it did. On our trip out, we ran into a few people from their party--all very rotund individuals without any apparent avalanche knowledge or gear.

With dark lazily approaching, we took two short laps through a steeper timbered slope and headed for the trucks, tired and ready for a beer.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Nothing to see here, move along

Well, Lander graced the pages of Fly Rod & Reel as the top trout town in the Northern Rockies. Sure, Lander is a great place to live and has wonderful fishing, but the top trout town? Who knows. Maybe.

A couple things are certain though, we do have several "local stream options"--it's just that despite what the article says none of them are "Red Creek." What's more, although "the Magpie" may have been "a natural place to hang out, eat breakfast and caffeinate before heading out on the stream", don't search too long for it because it burnt down about 8 months ago. Oh, Mr. Thomas, did you actually visit Lander?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Togwotee Pass

The Wife and I headed out Saturday for a little skiing up on Togwotee Pass with a few friends. Since The Wife and I are greenhorns at backcountry skiing and the snow has been marginal, we kept things pretty mellow.We parked near the "N" in the map above and followed a circular clock-wise route up the hill climbing some 1600 feet. This is the same area where Togwotee Mountain Lodge operates a snowcat skiing operation and, although it's easier to get to the top with a snowcat, I was glad to ski epic powder without the $349 per person pricetag.

As I eluded to in an earlier post, the snow conditions have been very marginal this year. However, since it hadn't snowed in a while, things had begun to stabilize. On this day, it was warm and sunny with huge surface hoar.

I knew it was going to be a good day when Aaron blazed the entire skin path himself, leaving the easy skinning to the rest of us--I'll ski with that guy anytime.The climb went quick. After crossing an initial open field, we skinned through trees for a bit then were able to follow a snowcat path the rest of the way to the top. Once at the top, we were able to take a minute to enjoy the view, chow down a quick snack and get stoked for the descent. Here's Aaron making the switch:Karta, wondering where her snack is:
Karl and Darci chowing down:Enjoying the view:Karl getting his stoke on while I rip my skins off:The ski down was great. We had sugar snow mixed with light, soft powder the whole way. Here's The Wife getting after it:Not fully satisfied, we all skinned back up about 2/3 of the way and took another lap through the best lines:During our second lap, things warmed up considerably. Since a couple of us heard whumphs on the climb, we took the easy route and called it a day. The Wife getting after it on round two:Thoroughly worked, it was time to enjoy a final snack, give the dogs a drink and head home.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Paying off your debts

With my intra-office beer debt having grown to 26 bottles, I headed over to the local convenience store with plans to make things square. After carrying two 20-packs up to the cashier, the following transpired:

Cashier: "Thirsty, huh?"

Me: "Fortunately, it's not all for me."

Cashier: [Takes my debit card and gives me the evil eye.] "You're 21, right?"

Me: [Thinking it's been a while since I was carded--although I did shave last night.] "29."

Cashier: [Swiping my card.] "Yeah, I saw your gray hair and figured you were. Just checking."

Me: [Awkward pause.] "Hmmm. Well, at least it's not falling out."

Cashier: [Handing me my card and the receipt.] "Yeah, and I actually like gray hair."

Me: [Another awkward pause as I try to figure out if this is all just a bizarre pick-up line.] "Yeah, uh, thanks."

Monday, January 12, 2009

Stan the Man

As always, we played lots of card and other games over the holidays. Stanley even got in on the action.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Back in Lander

After returning home from Vegas, The Wife and I had much of The Wife's family over for a few days around New Years. Between bouts of euchre and smart ass, we managed to fit in more fondue:...and made a trip to Jackson to see the sights. While the summer tourist season and its unbelievable crowds can make Jackson a less than ideal place to be, winter in Jackson is quite nice.

Our first order of business in Jackson was to tour the Elk Refuge. This place is pretty amazing. Basically, with all the development and sprawl in Jackson Hole, many of the large animals that historically used the Hole for winter range end up concentrated on the refuge. While not ideal from the wildlife's point of view, it creates a gawker's paradise.

We also tried to ski Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. Unfortunately, the snow was/is ridiculously unstable and the resort had to shut down. Just the day before we planned to ski the Resort, an in-bounds avalanche tragically killed a skier. The day we showed up, another avalanche damaged one of the Resort's lodges and led to its closure (more here). Since yet another avalanche has since plagued the Resort, perhaps it was best that we didn't ski the Resort that day. We ended up skiing Snow King instead and had a fun, safe day on the mountain.

After our hectic day of skiing, we all headed back home for a few lazy days around Lander. The pets got to enjoy the wood stove:And The Wife, The Sister-in-law, The Mother-in-law and myself enjoyed a hike around Sinks Canyon.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Road trip to Vegas

Since the New Year managed to sneak up on me this year--and then run me over like a Mack Truck--I'm getting a late start to the resolutions. However, beginning with this post, I plan to update this blog at least twice a week. Like with all resolutions, we'll save judgment on how well I do until later...

As has become custom, The Wife and I took a road trip to Vegas to visit my family over Christmas. However, since we didn't get out of Lander until noon we knew we were in for a long haul. The roads were miserable but we were in no hurry.

Karta is quite the trooper on the road. What you can't see is that my eyes and facial expression mirror hers.A few things stand out each year from our Christmas in Vegas. First, we all attend Christmas Eve mass to sing carols before returning to Ma's house for a fondue party. Over the years the fondue party has become the stuff of legend.

The party never really gets started until Walt takes up the piano.Think of a cross between National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation and an old West piano bar--with too much food.A second thing that sticks out from each year is that my other grandma, Mary Dale, has everyone over to sample the latest batch of Mary Dale's Maddening Margaritas. While the margarita bash usually follows Christmas, we did things in reverse this year. What's more, Mary Dale's Maddening Margaritas must have been especially potent this year because both The Wife and I forgot to take any pictures...After a little under a week in Vegas, it was time to head home. We had gone skiing in blizzard conditions at Brian Head, I got to watch my dad split queens in black jack--and win, I demonstrated my lack of skill in tennis, we threw the football around until my shoulder was ready to explode, and I set a new personal best in bowling--170. Pretty successful all in all. The drive home, on the other hand, was not so successful:Oh yeah, one final bonus picture of the pooch: