Monday, January 19, 2015

Fruits of My Labor

Fruits of my labor. What the hell does that mean? Sounds like some force fed consumerist, capitalist propaganda! If you work hard enough you can get what you want out of life?! Is that it? Last time I looked fruits grew on trees, and trees grew in forests, so why don't you just go out in the forest and find what you want in life.

The Wheeler Peak wilderness and the Taos Ski area received their second major snow of the season this past Tuesday. I arrived in the area on Tuesday. The snowfall wasn't that deep, between 8-12", but it was enough to make my first few days here work.

On Wednesday morning, when I strapped on my snowshoes to start scouting the trails into the alpine, the snow was fresh. It was laid upon another 12-16' of old snow and when I began snowshoeing I was breaking trail. At times plunging and post-holing, even in high flotation snowshoes, with a light pack.

 Breaking trail is fun and tiring. It is nice to think you are going where no one has been yet, but the energy required for every step is multiplied. Crunch, compress, plow, prod, sludge, and suffer. Over the next three days I broke over nine miles of trail. Up one canyon only to loose the way in a snowed over meadow. Back track to the main trail, search another, get stuck in the labyrinth of snow and pine again. Luckily, a group of six  backcounty skiers and snowshoers followed what became my main, and correct, route. Their progress further compacted my trail.

 By day three I had a hard pack trail up Bull of the Woods mountain into the alpine.  I was able to use my crampons in the ice now rather then my snowshoes and, consequently, now carry a heavy load. It took me three days of work to be able to carry a 35 pound pack a mere four miles up a mountain side, but I worked for it. I was able to spend three days at 11,400 ft in a deep snow pack.

The high alpine slopes on the west side were wind blown. Most of the snow had been swept away or frozen to an ice pack.  On my second day at high camp I got above 12,000ft to practice my self arrest, self belay, and glisading technique off the side of Fraizer Mountains. It was wonderful to be playing again in an alpine environment. I dream of this stuff. Happiness is an understatement.

I only ended up five miles, via trail, from Taos ski valley and it took me three days to get there and another three to utilize it. Six days, for five miles.  We all work towards something, right? Fruits of my labor.


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