XC Yellowstone

January 6, 2013

The Hollowdays were good, real good! Lots of new snow fell in the Wasatch and we’ve been out with some new video equipment getting things dialed in. Check out the latest PW blog posts for great pics Jonah snapped.

I’ve got a huge list of lines to ski, traverses to attempt, all of which are very condition dependent. It’s rare that much of it is possible in Nov/Dec. Yellowstone is about the only thing in the “early season” file. There is often enough snow to slide on and it’s a place I’ve fallen in love with since a short XC trip a few years ago.

My woman and I were planning a trip to see relatives near Cody, WY and ring in the New Year. My idea was to get dropped off in West Yellowstone and ski to Mammoth Hot Springs along the way. We celebrated our 3rd year of relationshipping by eating pizza in the hotel and going to bed by 10pm. I love you Riley.

Screen Shot 2013-01-06 at 4.46.45 PM

At 4am we parted ways.

PreparingInDark

It was -4 degrees and snowing slightly which made it difficult to warm up, or even stay warm. The tights were not the best call. I had to wrap my ultra-lightweight Ghost Whisperer down jacket (such a great lightweight puffy) around my waist like a skirt to make it bearable. Function over fashion in the mountains.

Snow:Moon

I was making pretty good time on the lightweight XC gear. By Madison Junction it was 7am. I took a half hour break in a heated bathroom to warm up and refuel. 13miles down 35 to go!

MammothSign

OMG! A double rainbow! I knew damn well what it meant, that the sun is finally coming up to warm my ass.

DoubleSnowBow

Roadside attractions.

Waterfall

I was going in the dark for almost 5hours before the sun finally did shine. This was decision time. I’ve never done 48 miles in a day and I told myself I would go until the sun came up and decide to keep on, or turn around. After this point I would be too far out to turn around and forced to finish. I felt ok and the sun gave me a huge boost of energy. The hip flexors were very sore from the cold temps and inability to properly warm up. I didn’t necessarily feel like doing another 30+miles, but I didn’t feel like going back the way I had come. I continued down the road.

FirstLightRoad

The cold helps me appreciate the warmth. The dark helps me appreciate the light. Certain photo’s help me remember it all.

SunThroughFrostyTrees

Not much wildlife was encountered. A few buffalo herds and some loners blocked the road, I cut off into the woods to avoid them.

Buffalo

Some snow coaches passed on occasion. One of them stopped to check in on me. They seemed concerned. With 26 miles under my belt and almost that many to go I did contemplate catching a ride.

SnowCoach

There was a fresh skiff of snow that provided good traction and glide. I arrived at Norris Junction around 11am and decided to grab lunch and take a real break. The jet-boil churned out a much needed, heavily caffeinated mocha. Such a great lightweight tool for melting and warming water.

Lunch

I went out hard after the picnic! It would be dark around 5 and I really didn’t want to be out in the cold again. Legs felt good, but if I stopped it was tough to get going again, so I didn’t stop much. Some photo’s just couldn’t be passed up.

RoaringMtn2

BuffaloRoadBlock

Shadow

The last few miles were really really difficult. I was tired and wanted to stop moving. Funny thing was, when I would “stop” to grab water or snacks my body would continue to want to move forward. I’ve never experienced that and it was comical. I’d keep sliding just slightly forward. The body was still obeying what it had been told to do all day. Thankfully the final 2 miles were downhill, actual downhill where no movement was necessary! Just standing there sliding downhill was a fine feeling and very restful after 11.5 hours and roughly 48 miles on the move.

SunsetRocks

Some kind folks stopped to offer a ride as I walked down the road to Mammoth. The next few hours were spent sitting in the lodge by the fire sipping a hot chai tea. Perfect way to end a very long day!

MammothHotel

The toes took a serious hit and my hip flexors were shot, but I felt pretty good for having covered that many miles. Great training run for some long technical traverses to come this season.

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