Got out on the skinny skis for the first time this season. Jennifer and I were originally planning a trip to one of the MTTA huts but were not able to on short notice due to their archaic reservation system. (That and our hut of choice was already full.) We decided on one day of skiing but where would we go? While the state was already charging to park at Sno Parks, no grooming had actually occurred except on the MTTA trails. I checked with the ranger stationed in REI and he told me the I90 Sno Parks would be groomed starting December 5th. Since this information was not online I took it because it was all we had. Jennifer and I were still going to head that way because we didn't know where else to go.
Signs were good when we arrived at the pass and it was snowing. We continued east and stopped at the Crystal Springs Sno Park. We figured with the snowmobile traffic, it would resemble groomed and be good enough to ski on. To our dismay, the parking lot was not plowed and a high clearance vehicle was needed to negotiate it. So we drove down the highway to Cabin Creek to see what was in store. When we arrived, we saw a few guys digging a spot out in the parking lot so they could park. I wasn't particularly interested in that kind of workout, so we went across the highway to check on the trail condition. It certainly was not groomed. There was a small trail trench in the middle and that was it. We decided to head back to Crystal Springs.
From our earlier trip to the parking lot we knew there was a spot to park just outside the lot where the road was plowed and we would not be in the way. We parked there and geared up. Jennifer was excited to use her new skis for the first time. We skied through the parking lot and onto the trail while keeping a close eye out for snow machines. The snow coverage wasn't great, but we didn't have to ski on dirt anywhere. Once we hit the road, there was low coverage from wheeled vehicles driving on it, so we kept to one side. We decided to head down the road to Trollhaugen as they had run their snow cat on it but did not groom. (That, and it was off limits to snowmobiles.) We skied down that way on what was nice compacted snow from the cat. Once at an intersection, the cat had turned around and we ventured out into untracked snow on the trails there. We made a small loop and returned back out to the road.
On our way out we stumbled upon ski tracks heading into the Erling Stordahl trails and we followed them for a loop. While not quite as nice as skiing on the trails the cat had driven on, it was nice having the track in there for us already. After that loop we called it quits and headed home.
It was fun getting out on the skinny skis for a change. They'll probably make me better on the fatter skis, because I find it more difficult to balance and ski with them. Jennifer had fun and cannot wait to go back. Unfortunately, the trails will not be groomed until December 5th. Which makes sense to me now that I saw that the coverage probably wasn't enough for a proper grooming. And they wouldn't want to start grooming on Thanksgiving Weekend for obvious reasons. (Although I bet the state could have earned more money if they did.)
Route Profile - Kautz Glacier
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