Thursday, April 14, 2011

04/14/11 Soggy Skookum Circle - Crust Skiing

There's a swamp separating road from crust...overboots rock!

I was planning on crust-skiing to Spencer Glacier. After I got through the swamp it began snowing heavily, and I chose a closer option: Skookum Glacier. Skiing with your head down with limited visibility doesn't lend to good navigation. I somehow made a circle and didn't realize it until I saw the train tracks!

The best time of year for this ski is usually all of April. Early May can be good too in heavy snowfall years. To start a ski trip to Skookum or Spencer Glacier drive to the Portage Highway. After a mile, take a right onto a dirt road. Start skiing across Alder Pond. Follow the path of least resistance through clearings until in open terrain.

Well this year was a low snow year, and after alder pond there was 3/4 mile of unskiable terrain. Light bushwhacking through alders, wetland, more alders, creek, wetland, alders, then crust! The key this year is knee-high overboots that fit over ski boots. If you don't mind the first part there's lots of open crust out there. My route was 13.9 miles. I started at 8:30 and finished at 1:30.

 Alder Pond

Poked my ski pole into a hole in Alder Pond. It was at least 12 inches thick.

Beavers

 Alders...darn.

 Wetlands...darn.


 Creek...darn.

 Crust...hell yeah!



 It was dumping.

 This is where I crossed Skookum Creek. I ended up getting pretty close to the Skookum Glacier. Somewhere within a 1/4 mile of it I got turned around and accidentally started skiing down-valley.

 There were lots of clues telling me that I was heading the wrong way, but this was the big one. I'm back at the train tracks...oops.

It took a little extra effort to skate through the heavy wet stuff, but it was still fun.

 Started clearing up towards the end of the ski.



Done & completely soaked.

If the sun stays out today and it freezes tonight there should be some good crust skiing tomorrow. Might head down that way again on Monday so I can actually see the glacier.

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