Storm Skiing at RotaRun in Hailey.
A dream came true the other day–I was able to take my oldest kiddo, Kaia (9 years old), out on her first backcountry ski tour! We went up to Galena Pass and skinned up a few hundred vert to the top of a mellow slope, dug down to the ground (a whoping 1.5′ of snow) for some snow analysis, and then enjoyed our first turns together as backcountry partners!
We had a blast and Kaia, on her own, mentioned how she enjoyed the quiet and the spectacular views. Since this trip, she’s been begging to get out again!
I don’t know if it’s part of “Global Wierding” or the simple fact that random back to back storms left Idaho’s high country with about two feet of snow? Regardless, as bizarre as it was, being able to ski over 1000′ of snow in the alpine region of the Pioneer Mountains on October 5th was a welcome treat.
South Central Idaho recently received a few early season snow storms that have covered the alpine region of some of the nearby ranges with early snow. Christopher Cook, Russel, and I made plans to take “our skis for a walk” this morning in hopes of making a few turns.
When I woke up at 4:30 today, it wasn’t because my alarm sounded, rather, it was the rain that was pelting our metal roof. Rain is not welcome on ski days and I wondered if I should stay in bed. I rolled out and into the kitchen where I realized that I was up early and had beat the coffee machine’s timed brew. After getting the coffee started, I walked upstairs to grab a rain cover for my camera bag and almost stepped in a puddle of green and sparkley diarrhea left by my dog, no doubt caused by her having eaten a bowl of my kids homemade magic-sand. Not the best start what could be the first day of the ski season, but, minor considering the larger picture.
I cleaned up the dog mess, cooked a few eggs while the coffee brewed, and then checked the snowtel sites to see if it was snowing up high. Two of the higher snow sites were recording temps in the high 30′s. Enough said, might as well keep with the plan and head up into the alpine to see if we could link some turns.
Leaving Ketchum the temperature was 42 and by the time the truck was on the trail in 4-low, it wasn’t dropping like we’d hoped-still just 40. Though we were passing patches of snow, we were stuck in the rain. That said, looking up canyon looked revealed vistas that gave us hope and we kept on with each roll of the tire, step of the boots, and finally slide of the skins until the temps fell and the precip morphed into its beloved frozen crystal state. Then, at that magic moment with the skins off our skis, goggles on, and boots buckled tight, we all enjoyed the return of that ever addicting, phenomenally fascinating, feeling of skiing. This time, for the first time, in Idaho in September!
I was able to go out on a few tours of the Beaver Creek fire here in my home area both yesterday and today. As an adventure sports photographer, I wanted to get out to document what happens to the trail system after a fire. Knowing that Greenhorn burnt hot just a few days ago, as seen in my previous blog post, I was grateful to have the opportunity to tour the area with Public Information Officer this morning. Here are some of the images showing the effects the fire had on the landscape surrounding the Greenhorn Gulch trailhead.
Six years ago the Castle Rock Fire burned a crescent around our ski area peak, Bald Mountain. At it’s closest, it was 13 miles from my home. Mornings were filled with smoke so thick you couldn’t see the hill 300 yards away, in the afternoon, Baldy looked like a volcano erupting. Eight days ago, lighting struck a hillside about 15 miles south of the southern most point of the Castle Rock fire–a spot only 5 miles west of my town. The winds blew to the north for the first five days and ran all the way to Castle Rocks most northern scar. Then, a few days ago, the winds switched and blew to the east and the fire moved with them. The fire lines moved over a ridgetop and into two of the most prized canyons that spur off the Big Wood Valley, Deer Creek and Greenhorn Gulch. This evening, the fire torched Greenhorn, home to nearly a dozen world class hiking and mountain biking trails, creeks, thick woods, and beautiful meadows. Grouse spent Fall afternoons on the dried grass ridgetops and hid amongst their craggy sections. In the spring, the wildflowers were mind blowing, especially on a blue bird day. To see the arrowleaf balsomroot compliment that clear shade of blue was utter perfection. Today, I saw colors I didn’t know nature could create, an orange unlike anything I’ve ever seen. Flames leaped higher than any I’ve ever seen. Aircraft were dwarfed by the plumes of smoke. Smoke ignited. People pulled over on the sides of the highway and gaped, as they should have. It was intense, both sad and scary. I know it’ll grow back. I know it’ll be beautiful and that the skiing is going to be ridiculous. But, Greenhorn was cool and a bunch of us are gonna miss the way it was.
My good friend Scott Corkery and I headed up into the Smoky mountains just north of Ketchum, Idaho, yesterday afternoon to connect the Fox Peak to Adam’s Gulch mountain bike trail. It’s one of the longer rides in the area and though a storm surrounded us, the rain fell everywhere but where we were! The flowers are going off up high right now, so, get out and enjoy!
Because my wife is a school teacher, she and I try to get out on a family adventure just after school gets out in early June. Hitting the road after the final school bell rings allows her an immediate reprieve from time spent teaching high school students and, typically, my wedding photography business is still slow (it ramps up in late June/early July). In June of 2013, we traded in our Delta Skymiles and flew up to Alaska for a three week adventure with our two kids. Our itinerary included backpacking in Denali National Park, day trips around Anchorage and the Turnagain Arm, as well as time spent across the spit from Homer in the Haystack Beach yurt. We were treated to unbelievable weather and anytime we were in the backcountry, we felt like we were in an episode of a nature show!
Photo: During the bus ride in Denali National Park while en route to our backpacking drop off spot (Polychrome Basin) we drove by a few Dall sheep.
Maritt unloading our backpacks for a few days and nights in the backcountry.
Kaia jumping across a braided stream.
Lots of tracks were seen, luckily we only saw bears from the safety of the bus.
As there are no trails in the Denali backcountry, bushwacking is a common activity.
Most of the flowers are dwarfed due to the harsh Alaska weather.
Our son Finn resting after the first day of hiking. Photo below by Maritt Wolfrom:
Maritt and Finn enjoying glissading!
A mama bear and her cub. Day two in the Denali backcountry.
We had to descend a loose slope. Maritt instructs the kids how to do so safely.
Two of the three states of h2o.
A ptarmigan mid-molt.
Up, up, and up. Finn finishing the day’s hike in strong fashion.
We enjoyed unbelievable views of the many high peaks near Denali.
More dwarfed flowers.
Where’s Waldo? Photo below by Maritt Wolfrom:
Finn descending into the next drainage.
A quick lesson on the cycle of life.
After Denali, we enjoyed a private flight over the Chugach Range.
This image, like the opening image, is a detail of a glacier.
We also took a boat tour of the Kenai Fjords National Park.
Morning light from Seward, Ak.
I’m an Andy Goldsworthy fan and mimic his work every chance I can.
On our way down the Kenai peninsula, we stopped along the coast and found a group of bald eagles feasting.
A typical scene in Homer, Ak. Homer is a gateway to amazing adventures.
We were ferried to the Haystack Beach Yurt and stayed two nights. The snags along the beach were crazy fun to climb. Maritt took this image and sold it to Patagonia who printed it and hung it in their Vail, Colorado, store!
Where there is a will, there is a way!
We were in Alaska during the summer solstice. This image was captured at about 11:45pm.
The Haystack Beach yurt. A family friendly place to enjoy.
Our last sunset in Alaska. We are smitten and hope to be back, often!