The fact that the trip was off to a slow start was made clear when my car arrived at the Yeoman Trailhead at 4:30 pm and we were the second to the parking lot. The rigors of office work, an afternoon Calculus class, a 500-mile drive, a debilitating hangover, just plain laziness, and car-lessness were all listed as excuses. None of these would shorten the hike; it was going to be a late night. The eight-mile skin took the thirteen of us between six and eight hours. We made our way up the even grade of the forest road, and by nightfall separated into smaller groups. After separating, our parties navigated through the dark alone, or in groups of two or three. Our roaming canine companion, Poncho, encouraged everyone along the way. Although this worm of a dog wore no collar, a jingling sound was imagined by certain members of our party.
Seven and three quarter miles after leaving the trailhead we climbed a steep rise in the road and rounded a bend. Besides the snowed over trail, a “no snowmobile” sign was the only sign of human presence in several miles, and a welcome indication that we were headed in the right direction. A short ways later, in the snowy darkness we glimpsed the soft glowing lights of solar powered electricity.
Frustration quickly melted into relief as the victory shout echoed slowly back from the front of the group, to the rear, where the bravest souls trudged upward with our two heavy sleds.
Upon arrival at the cabin, we were greeted by new club members Jared and Jack, who had a warm fire raging. They introduced themselves, and became our voices of reason and models of preparedness for the trip. So began the festivities. Beers were cracked. Wine was poured from a bag. After a prayer, paying respect to the knee dropping World War II veterans of the 10th Mountain Division*, a delicious pasta dinner was inhaled.
After a welcome, wood-stove warmed sleep, a feast of eggs and bacon provided our sustenance for the afternoon. Eleven tele skiers and two alpine skiers, set out to enjoy the bountiful powder surrounding us.
Jared, Jack, and outdoorsman extraordinaire Jeffrey Tarshis dug a snow pit, with the shots being called and analysis interpreted by our intrepid leader and co-founder Sam Shiverick.
These four took on the role of snow scientists and performed compression tests. We identified some scary layers deep in the snow pack, and decided to stay very safe throughout the day.
Lapping mellow powder became the name of the game.
The gloriously deep day was full of knee dropping, tele-face plants, whoops, laughs, skinning, and blister development. Pure beginners gained some experience, if only slightly, in the foot of fresh snow.
Missteps were rewarded with joyous tele-powder-rolls.
All of this exertion quickly led to widespread exhaustion.
By sunset at seven o’clock, we had thoroughly harvested the powder fields of Prospect Peak above the cabin, and the Blaze Meadows below.
After the hard work on the slopes, the task of consuming the 200 beers provided by Avery Brewing, along with the twelve Molsons provided by Will Westerfield, became the most formidable challenge of the trip.
The gentlemen of the Boulder Telemark Club stepped up admirably to the job. In a performance that would have made the grizzled mountain soldiers of the 10th Mountain Division proud, we finished all but a few straggling beers. These revealed themselves in the days to come hidden deep in our packs, encased in mittens, hats and jacket pockets, as souvenirs of the trip.
The day concluded with an excellent dinner of well-stuffed burritos, and a night of tele-wisdom and merryment. Sleep snuck up quickly on our day of festivities. In the morning we trekked down through a warm April day back to the Yeoman parking lot, and parted ways.
The cool, snowy weather and face shots were all of a sudden miles away. We left with a batch of fresh knee dropping memories and several, strange new knee-dropping friends a piece.
Thanks to Avery Brewing for the hoppy beers, Twenty-Two Designs for the hinged bindings, and the enthusiasm of the members of the Boulder Telmark Club who made this year a smashing success. Always remember the famous words of Warren Miller’s tele skiing brother Earl, “If you don’t drop a knee this year, you’ll be one year older when you do.”
*We found a 10th mountain Division Soldier’s memoir in the hut’s library. The writer’s reference to a skier who made beautiful alpine style turns with the rear tip weighted, but struggled to ski with a heavy pack, suggests that some of the Camp Hale soldiers may have been tele skiers.