Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Tolovana trip!

My intrepid friend Shannon organized a big group trip to Tolovana Hot Springs, renting all of the cabins for 2 days. A fantastic idea! I had such a great time. Just getting out into the open air for a few days made me feel like a new person. Thankfully, the weather cooperated and we had temps over zero the entire trip.

Here is the elevation map: an 11 mile ski. Pretty hairy descents! The trail wasn't much wider than a snow machine track, so full snowplowing with the skis was nigh impossible. I was able to do a half-plow (?) with one ski, which was pretty stressful on the quads. A great adventure, regardless. For the downhills, I sat on the ends of my skis and rode them down. A little rough on the bum, but it worked.

Here is Fromage at the first few miles of trail. I think the temp. was about +10, but a bitter wind was blowing. (He's using the pogies I made him!)

And I'm using the ski overboots I made---both pairs, layered! A new friend Jeremy had a snowmachine and sled and kindly took all of our heavy packs out to the springs that way. We just carried the essentials----extra gear, tea, cookies and ratzones (see previous blog entry to explain that last....).

Jason and Tika, the dog with the most expressive tail in the world. There were quite a few dogs there----Steve with his dog team, then five people with pet/skijoring dogs. The dogs made the trip all the more fun. What characters! Makes me want to have a dog.

Rachel and McKinley. I'll give McKinley the "Most Sneaky" award for the trip. I can't believe Rachel skiied all the way out to the Springs wearing this heavy parka---no doubt she was very warm!

At the summit. You can't really tell, but take my word for it that this is me. Windy and cold up there, so we didn't pause long. Also, I didn't take many pix over the inward trip because my digital camera froze up easily. A great argument for quicky, disposable cameras in frigid temperatures.

The Cedar Cabin. I was surprised at the ammenities---a propane stove, lights and all dishes, pots, pans and utensils.

Party at the Log Cabin. Shannon brought a word game that had us all roaring with laughter (and all being half-drunk, that was pretty easy). This is Lily, Shannon, Kim and Karen.

Karen, Markus and Jason. The wood stoves in the cabins kept us toasty.

You'll notice no pix of the hot springs, themselves! Couldn't take the digital camera to the steamy environs of the pools. Plus, it was all about soaking in the moment, not saving anything for later. Sometimes, photography can impede, that least for me, trained as a documentary photographer. Often I like to put the camera away and just BE there, you know?

The pools were wonderful---nothing fancy, but everything effective. Given that the air was +10F - +20F while we soaked, it was a challenge to get in and out of the tubs standing on snow and ice in the all-together feeling that biting wind on your....well, everything. Definitely a challenge. While in the tub, our hair froze.

On the ski out----first thing, a steep hill. No purchase to be had with my waxless touring skis. Fromage had skins, which allowed him to walk up the steep trail like his skis were glued to it. I strapped my skis on my back and trudged.... +30F temps made the day beautiful.

Fromage in the landscape. Most, if not all, of the forests we traveled through had been seared by a forest fire in the last few years. Much deadwood, tree fungus growth and sound of woodpeckers making use of the dead stands.

Fromage on the straightaway. Unfortunately, you can't see the mountain range in the background! At this point in the trail out, Jason and Tika skijored past doing a good clip. With Tika pulling, they must've made the trail head hours before us.

A shot of the mysterious and beautiful woods. These are black spruce hit by the fire. Eerie, but lovely.

Just the tops had needles left. We saw dozens of moose and ptarmigan tracks.

Lily and Steve at the trailhead. These two had the best stories. Steve mushed in with his sled and 7 dogs. Lily is a firefighter and musher.

Fromage at home, with an old cat that missed him dearly. It was a long slog of a ski back to the car! When we got home, the water pump in our house had cut out, leaving our houseguest/sitter friend with no water. Luckily, it was just the line from the buried water tank to the house pump. When the weather warmed so quickly, it drove the frost layer deeper into the ground, and must've reached our water line 8 ft. down. 20 minutes of heat tape on it fixed it up. (Thankfully!)

And now?

The temps are still +35 everyday! I am out skate skiing my ass off on my new Madshus skis.....


bike&beer said...

what i liked the most was... the pic of the toasty cabin with everyone just wearing t-shirts! aaahhh... no, seriously, beautiful places, but i doubt i could make it. snowshoeing at 25F is my limit i guess.... great to catch up on all your posts from the past month! and happy belated b-day :-)

Eero said...

Thanks B&B! For all of this winter adventuring, I've been using the gear you sent me last fall. The thick blue shirt and neck gaiter, especially. Wonderful stuff: thank you again!

bike&beer said...

SO glad, eero... i wouldn't have put it to nearly such good use!

Karen Travels said...

I am so jealous! Thank you for sharing this adventure, I felt like I was there! I am needing an adventure in the wilderness bad!

Time to start planning a trip here in!