It is almost embarrassing that I am typing this. I thought about not typing up a report for this trip, but I felt I should serve as an example to others.
So the intro is a little heavy. Reality is that nothing terrible happened on this trip. I set out for a ski of Mount Margaret solo. Due to avy conditions and time constraints, I figured this was a suitable trip for the day to achieve a summit and some turns. It was sort of a last minute trip and I briefly viewed the entry in the book the evening before. I had meant to take the book with me in the car to review it once more before heading out, but I forgot it. I didn't bring a map either, which would have solved my problems as well.
I left the car at 8am heading down the road on the snowmobile tracks. Within a few hundred feet an abandoned overgrown logging road heads uphill. (It still has a sign from the logging company and had a date like 1982 on it.) There was a faint skin track on this road, so I thought that is where I was supposed to go. After heading up for a bit I came to an intersection and went left, but once again this was because I was following a faint old skin track. After a while, the road ended in a bit of a clearing. I could see a ridge above me and the skin track headed out above the clearing. I paused, and then attempted to follow it. So far to this point the snow was mostly a breakable crust layer and this steeper section was no different. I got to a tree and took my skis off. I hiked up a bit and finally decided that this was not where I was supposed to be. I hiked back to the clearing.
I skied back to the intersection and took the other path. It ended quickly and soon I was traipsing through the woods at the end of the road. While the snow was better here, and the distance between the trees accommodating, I knew I wasn't going up Mount Margaret and turned around. I skied out back to near the car and started south with the snowmobile tracks. I had burned well over two hours wandering around on the incorrect roads.
I skinned fast to make up time. But skinning wasn't particularly easy as the snow was torn up from snowmobiles and had refrozen during the night. When possible I stayed off to the side of the road to have a better track. I briefly explored a track going into the woods near Rocky Run before continuing up the correct road. I was making good time, but at the expense of my foot. I felt a hot spot and stopped to put a bandage over it hoping to stop a blister formation. I got back up and started going again. I saw a faint track from Nordic skis and wondered how far the person was in front of me.
I arrived at what was the Mount Margaret trail parking lot. All of the sudden the snow was better (3" of fresh) and I thought I still had a chance to summit or at least get some turns. It was before noon and I finally felt like I was on track. The other skier was cleaning snow off his skis, and looking to head down. I just said "hi" and didn't ask for beta which may have helped. As I went past him, I noticed he had booted back to the spot where I saw him. Then I started to get the idea. There were numerous small creeks running through the road. Some required the removal of skis to get across. Others could be carefully navigated on snow bridges. The final wash out was probably the north fork of Wolfe Creek and where the other skier turned around. It was still around noon, and I had a turnaround time of 1pm so I got out my shovel and cut a step into the snow so I could get in the wash. It was about a 4' drop otherwise. I cut a step in the other side just in case, and then carried my skies across the creek. This burned a fair amount of time. Getting the boots wet caused difficulties with my binding as they were icing up with snow and cold water.
Shortly after this crossing the road ended. There was no clear way up, and I just headed into the woods. The trees were tight, and I was trying to navigate through the wider openings. I wandered around with a the vague idea of heading up and right, hoping to find more open forest. I got back to the creek. It wasn't any easier to cross where I was at, so I headed back to the road. I met my turnaround time. How quickly I had forgotten all the little creek crossings. While this section of road was fairly level, I felt I would be able to ski out and removed my skins after crossing the major crossing. Then I had to remove my skis for two or three more smaller crossings before I got back to the parking lot and the main road. The ski out from there was uneventful aside from wanting to put the skins back on for the flat section near the highway.
Overall it was great to be out on a nice day. Was this trip successful? Yes in that I got out and got to exploring. There will always be another time to make the summit. Now I have a greater realization on why one should carry a map and compass. To eliminate these silly mistakes. I have looked at the map of Mount Margaret this morning and realized I would have not made any errors had I had it with me. Of course, I perhaps could have just read the book more carefully before heading out and I may have reached the top, or at least an area with a good ski run. Next time perhaps?
Route Profile: Mt. Erie's Zig Zag Route (5.7 or 5.8 II)
27 minutes ago