Editor: Dave Knoop is one of our Fasterskier training partners, and is famous in our group for his adventurous, high-speed, and “bonkable” outings.
I drove up to the Strawberry Reservoir area a little late on a Sunday am, about 10 am in the morning only to find it a well preserved winter wonderland everything still frozen and white as far as the eye could see even the reservoir looked mid winter frozen. Meanwhile a few thousand feet down below the day would push an easy 70F degrees in the valleys. I thought I'd ski the flats from Strawberry to Daniels Summit Lodge on groomed snowmobile trails for 10k turn around and head back to my car at an easy wandering pace. The trail had been freshly groomed, hard and fast. It was too good! Damn I felt good and I'm sure I looked good too but nobody was around to let me know of this fact. I had to let myself know.
Naturally the 10k-turnaround point came and went as I decided to do the whole 40k + loop sans water or food as I began to climb the canyon road up from the Daniels Summit lodge. The snow began to get pretty darn mushy as I climbed, realizing that the valley floor was an icebox but where I was heading 1,000 to 1500 feet up wasn't. I thought well I'll be skiing north slope in the trees surely it will be shaded there…..Yup it is in Dec. & Jan. where the sun doesn't even shine on this side but not now. Never mind the negatives,
it was too good of a day and I skied on. This former logging road turned groomed snowmobile road parallels the ridgeline above and eventually climbs to the ridgeline and that's just what I did after a few hours of cruising along. As I reached the top, the vista around me unfolded to spectacular scenery all around me. It was as good as the high plateau around Seefield, Austria that I had skied in early Febuary, WUNDERBAR!
So this is how people get in trouble I thought, get a little tired, get a little lazy and of course by all means do it alone! I have no choice but to keep descending. It's incredibly beautiful as I'm skiing through aspen glades with trees perfectly spaced. I ski though meadows thinking this really isn't too bad. Just then I must descend a 300 ft. face of steep snow, no trees, dense snow pack, extremely warm temps. Great I think, when I'm buried by an avalance and nobody will find me here as the crows and coyotes will surely pick me clean there will be nothing left but bright ski yellow boots and skate ski's to remind everyone what a fool I was! Obviously I'm here to tell you about it but not one of my smarter decisions as it was Russian Roulette in an incredibly beautiful place.
Once down, I kept moving as the temps continued to climb thinking if I can just keep moving. The sunny side of a narrow canyon I was now skiing, the snow was too soft and I sunk to my waste. The shady side as steep and had a creek with running water and multiple snow bridges to cross. 30 minutes later after my last snow bridge, wondering if I was going to have to take off my ski's and wade out of this semi fozen slush place, I spot the groomed snowmobile trail coming out of Clyde Canyon, yes I had just narrowly
missed it all along.
By now I'm talking to myself and very happy to be descending on a road, skiing V2 and wondering if this is what it feels like to ski the Vasaloppet or the former “Big Shooter Bonk” as just a blithering idiot happy to be alive and finishing my most excellent and last ski adventure of the season as the car comes into sight 3.5 hours later.