February 6th - 10th: Skiing in the Eastern Sierras

JonnyB and I emerged from the depths of Death Valley to find plenty of snow atop the mighty Eastern Sierra peaks and ready to make some turns.

February 6th: Rock Creek
PM: "Back on the skis for a few late afternoon turns in the Eastern Sierra outside Tom's Place, CA."

We meandered up through various highways, dirt roads, and local by-ways, searching for easy access to a few turns before the sun set for the day. The Rock Creek SnoPark, the only CalTrans SnoPark on the East Side, proved to be our savior.

No time for shenanigans when you're racing the sun, so I stuck with denim.

We lost the sun on Lemonade Stand (when you get lemons...), but it hadn't escaped the mountains. The turns were varied, but it was great to be back on the sticks in California.

February 7th: Chicken Wing
"Skied Chicken Wing and pushed the Subaru around a parking lot after draining the battery on gps, laptop, iPod, and radio... June Lake, CA."

The good folks at Mammoth Mountaineering, one of the finest gear shops around, recommended skiing Chicken Wing so that's where we went. The directions were somewhat vague and we couldn't find much solid info, but we did our best. From the Obsidian Dome trailhead we cruised a mile or so on some nordic tracks before countouring up towards an un-named peak across from White Wing.

February? Sure, but it felt like another spring day in the Sierras with a pocket or two of fresh snow on the north facing slopes.

Mr. Roboto celebrates starting the Subaru after it got pushed back and forth through the parking lot. Though we didn't end up succeeding with the push-start (huge advantage of manual transmission), it was a good attempt.

February 8th: The Neutrals
Our base camp for exploring the East Side was the Oh! Ridge campground near June Lake. The campground was closed for the season, but there was an open piece of asphalt to park the car (where Jonny slept) and place a therma-rest (where I slept). June Lake is an awesome little town and The Tiger kept us well fed each morning.

Mt. Wood loomed in the distance as we climbed the ridge between Yost Creek and Fern Creek. Our destination was somewhere in the neighborhood of the Positives and the Negatives, but we didn't really make it to either... Next time is Mt. Wood.

February 9th: Heading back to Tuolumne Meadows
"Dropped JB off at Mammoth Aeropuerto, heading into Tuolumne Meadows via x-country sticks. Lee Vining, CA."

I was flying solo today after dropping JonnyB at the airport on the 8th and decided to cruise back to the Tuolumne Meadows Ski Hut in Yosemite National Park. Last year Kevin and I had made the trek with huge packs and heavy skis as part of a Trans-Sierra. This year, I changed it up: cross-country skis and a light pack. What a difference! It only took me five hours to cover the 16 miles and 2,500' ascent to Tioga Pass. I was joined by two other skiers in the hut, one of whom imparted this fine pearl: "What you want to do when you're old, do when you're young." On it.

Rock slides, check. Avalanches, check. Could we get an updated sign?

East of Tioga Pass was all downhill, and I was racing the sun to reach the bottom. I won, barely, but it was quite an adventure on the cross-country skis.

I love hut logs. It did in fact snow last year, and we did in fact make the Trans-Sierra happen.

February 10th: Leaving the East Side
"32 miles roundtrip to Tuolumne hut in two days. "At least you're getting your exercise." -Ranger Jeff ... Next stop: South Lake Tahoe."

 I'm sure that peak has a name, but I know the flat part is Tuolumne Meadows.

Cross-country skiing without a pack, and across relatively level ground, is quite a bit of fun on a sunny February day. I cruised for a bit before hitting the road back to Lee Vining. Along the way I ran into Tuolumne Winter Rangers Jeff and Kathi, who had helped me and Kevin find the way to Snow Creek Cabin last year. They were out and about collecting water samples and enjoying the weather. What a life.

The sun sets over Mono Lake as I leave the East Side behind... for now. Be back in April!

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