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Last Schweitzer Hike #405

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Last Schweitzer Hike #405


partly cloudy   cloudy2    70°        

June 6, 2011…the last Schweitzer snow hike…hike # 405        

The forecast was for 60% rain today but the sun was coming out when we left. Normally we would have been done with Schweitzer by now but we needed more practice with our approach skis, and Jim bought another new pair and he was especially anxious to try them out. They are shorter than the others and do have skins. Temperature was to be around 70° so I wore short sleeves and summer hiking pants.

As we started up the cat track, we found many bare spots with water running everywhere. We carried the skis up to a point when we hit snow again and thought it was safe to put the skis on. The snow was horrible to walk on, very soft and smooshy…slippery too. Since we weren’t sure how much snow would be on the Cloudwalker route, we continued up to the top as we did last week to Stella, and thought we would try going down the Zip Down Run. Up at Stella, we had our mango snack again…took off our skis and sat down for a bit. We bought silicon spray to apply to my ski skins to see if we could slip them up a bit…they seem to go fast at a certain decline and then they take off fast. But on the flat or slight declines, they kind of drag a bit.

We got our first taste of wildflowers; so many yellow violets, trillium, glacier lilies and even one pussy willow bush. We saw no bear tracks today.

 If we thought the snow was bad down lower, it was extremely bad up top as we began to ski down Zip Down. I started first and it wasn’t long before I thought…no way. The snow was full of little craters from the different rate of snow melt, and it was soft and slippery. I had no control. Jim, who had taken the skins off his skis for easier down, was in for the same surprise only more so. He was the first to take the skis off and suggested I do the same…and we thought it would be so much safer to walk down.  He carried the skis on his pole over his shoulder. When we got closer to the bottom, we put the skis on and skied down the last bit…Jim’s skis were so slick and he fell almost immediately.

Safely at the bottom of the run at Wolf Ridge, we ate lunch, and then headed back. Jim’s skis kept coming off…had to get the wrench out for some repair a couple of times but it didn’t help much. They kept coming off, and he fell a few more times. Rain clouds were ominous when we got to the village and as we drove down the mountain rain drops began to hit the windshield. We made it back just in time.

We can now drive up Pack River Rd and when we hit snow, we will park and walk to the first trail head…it is usually around 1-2 miles. While it is not so bad on the way in, it is a chore on the way back…it is hard to not be at the truck when you get down but have to walk the miles to the truck. We’ve done it many times…and once in a hard downpour…that was no fun. This is the latest we have been up at Schweitzer and the latest we have not been up to the mountain trail heads. We are anxious. It’s been a long winter. We’ll see if we can stay away from Schweitzer next week!

Left home                    10:00

Started up                   10:30

Got back to truck         3:10 

Total hiking time           4 hours, 40 minutes

Total miles hiked          6 miles        


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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, snowshoeing, Wolf Ridge

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