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Schweitzer Firehouse to Ridge

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Schweitzer Firehouse to Ridge

Hike #391


35° - 32° …wind chill????... cloudy2   24   bigsnow   

Feb 14, 2011…Schweitzer firehouse to ridge …hike # 391

It was another gray day, with snow/rain in the forecast. Schweitzer was predicting some wind both in the village and at the summit. Jim wanted to do a very steep off trail bush/snow whack trip from the bottom of Cougar Canyon to the top of Cloudwalker Tr but I said no way to that with the avalanche danger as high as it was. One of us has to think smart.

Parked at the firehouse and headed up the hill…not too layered up in spite of a slight wind. It was hard to walk in the new and softer snow on the long and uphill climb. I noticed a few of those same snow holes that we found last week and took pics. Being familiar with dust devils in the desert, I got the idea that these ‘snow devils’ may do the same thing but in this case, the high winds zero into a spiral, digging a hole in the deep snow.

Up and up we went, up ‘televator hill’, so named by me for when the heel lifters come up on the snowshoes… and Jim’s left snowshoe came off for the first of many times today. These new over boots need a bit of manipulation. Onward and upward, the ‘funny snow’ got harder to walk in. Back on the main trail now, we started up the climb to the ridge cutoff. Checked the tape measure on the way...looked like about another foot since the last time. Just before we headed up to the ridge, the wind got quite strong…we put our jackets on. Although it was strong, happily it was not that cold. I never did put HotHands in my mitts at the start but it wasn’t long before my hands got chilly…and got them in fast.

To get out of the wind gusts at top, we headed for our usual clump of trees to eat lunch. My sandwich hit the spot today…I felt so hungry. Today we experimented with a plan to warm me up if I get really cold…that is to bring something hot to drink. I dug out our decades old thermos bottle, filled it with hot chocolate and we stashed it in Jim’s backpack side pocket. We broke it out after lunch and wow, did it taste great…I got my chocolate fix for St. Valentine’s Day!  Just a few skiers passed by us and we waved hello to them as they sailed on down.

By now it began to snow, and we stopped and put on the heavy gear…the wind was blowing so hard that it almost knocked me over a couple of times. This just got worse and to add to the excitement Jim’s snowshoe came off about four more times. There are some serious issues to deal with on these over boots. All of our tracks from the climb up were all filled in with snow by now…none were visible at all. It seemed like forever till we got back to the truck…so much wind and sideways blowing snow today.

Left home                   9:50

Started up                      10:15

Got to ridge                    1:15  (3 hours to ridge)

Turned around                1:30     

Got to truck                    3:30  (2 hours down) 

Total miles hiked            7 miles 

Total hiking time             5 hours 


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Author info

Betsy Fulling Betsy Fulling In 2002, after a bout with cancer and wanting her energy back, Betsy Fulling began hiking with her husband Jim. Regardless of the weather they go into the high country every week - in eight years, she has only missed five times.

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hiking, Schweitzer Nordics, Cougar Canyon, Cloudwalker Trail

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