Lynx CreeYesterday after work (around 3:30pm) Max, Wilson and I drove to Johnson Pass with snowmobiles hoping to get in a late afternoon lap on the Captain’s Chair (pictured above).  It only took 10 minutes or so to get to the base of the climb from the parking lot.  The trail is getting a little thin, but was still easily ride-able.  From there it wasn’t more then an hour before we’d skinned up the ridge and were getting ready to traverse / climb over to the line.

Unfortunately that’s when the clouds came in limiting our visibility to a few feet and  draining everyone’s motivation.  We cracked a couple beers in an attempt to wait for a sucker hole, but after an hour of waiting, with daylight dwindling and no sign of any clearing we retreated back down our skin trail to the snowmobiles and motored back to the parking lot.  And of coarse, as soon as the snowmobiles were back on the trailer the crowds broke and we were forced to stare up at what could have been bathed in beautiful orange sunset colors.  So the season of frustration continues, however, I know it could be much worse, for example, all of you that are forced to read all this dross.  Anyway, having seen the line up close I can confirm it’s sweet and I’m more likely then ever I’ll be back.

Saturday, expecting stormy weather, we’d planned to go for a mellow tour in the trees, but with Max needing to test drive the rebuilt engine on his Arctic Cat we decided Friday night that the best play was to involve our snowmachines and try to find some  tree skiing terrain in Johnson Pass.  Saturday unexpectedly greeted us with sunshine but we stuck to our plan.

Previously I’d never made it very deep into Johnson Pass, as after or 6 miles riding the narrow bumpy trail we would usually give up, but Saturday we pushed on back to Bench Lake and glimpsed loads of fantastic terrain I’d never seen before.  This resulted in lots of excitement and cruising around at speed, but we managed to keep our head and get in a quick ski lap before dark.  Of coarse an unexpected sunny day can never work out flawlessly so Sue decided to get involved with a porcupine and received  a mouth full of quills.  Video of some sled action and some quill pulling bellow.  Elsewhere, check out HatchYourTrax video snow reports, or the Michigan Ski Blog finding some epic (for Michigan standards) Crystal Mountain conditions.  And although this isn’t skiing related, anything titled The Danger of Taking a Dog into the Backcountry was going to get linked from this post, especially when it concerns small dogs getting swooped up by birds.

the family

the family and my brother's sign

We got another storm this week, an additional 30″ should make it a deep weekend in the mountains. I walked to work amidst large falling flakes but it’s suddenly sunny and things are looking good.

While wasting time this morning I found a video at Skier in the Midwest of people enjoying a bunch of new snow back in Michigan at Crystal Mountain. The personal highlight is that I think every shot is from my brother’s run, Teddy’s Turn! In the 15 years I skied at Crystal I think I only had 4-5 days that were ever this good, I can’t tell you people how rare Michigan powder really is, and to have that correspond with Teddy’s Turn (previously known as Back bowl) being open. Normally you’d have to put your season pass in jeopardy by poaching the run at night, and sneaking back to the Buck chair on the cross country trail and hope the lifties wouldn’t figure out what you were doing. I’d also like to mention that I’ve been listening to my cousins whine about the current lack of snow in the northwest for a month, hopefully this rubs a little salt in their wounds.

I’ve also uploaded some of Max’s POV footage from last weekend. It’s all pretty lame, but I think it demonstrates how hungover I was. When watching it now it looks really simple, but at the time my nerves were fried from the Consumer Direct Christmas party the night before. I was freaked out the whole time, and after hitting a couple trees lacked confidence. Watching Max cross the bridge reminds me how shady that seemed to me at the time. Notice the traffic jam I caused on the trail, which takes up the entire second half of the video. More proof that I suck at snowmachining.

More to come after the weekend, and then I’ll be hading the site over to Max for awhile, unless stuff comes up while I’m back in the mitten. I almost forgot, I will be covering the Teddy Knape Film Festival while I’m home.