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Trail Reports: 2008-2009 Season

12/13 - 12/14/2008 Patrol Report


  • Keith Gale (Lead)
  • Wade Melcher
  • John Kretschmann
  • Larry Crawford
  • Steve Bailey
  • Vincent Von Kaenel

Friday night Keith and Wade drove Nifty up to the cabin without much of a weather consideration. By the next morning, the cold had made the roads more treacherous with the introduction of black ice. This said, Larry, JK, Steve Bailey and Mariano made safe sojourn to the Summit Ranger Station to begin the process of opening the cabin.

Because the former tenants were either exceptional clean folks, or the Forest Service outsourced the cleaning, the cabin was in remarkable shape. All the worker bees had to do was transport and unpack which went remarkably smoothly. The big dilemma was the bathroom sink drain was frozen, but the able team of Steve and Larry jumped to the challenge and were delayed in exhulting their success. When I left on Sunday evening, the drain was still remiss in releasing. Otherwise, we are prepared for another season-including two bricks (AKA: NFS radios). We will remain committed to alkaline batteries because the re-chargeables do not last an entire day.

Departing early afternoon for Dodge, Steve, Wade, Mariano,JK and Keith were determined to break trail along Crabtree. In fact, the trail almost broke us. Perhaps because this was the first real storm with snow loading (ignoring the earliest season small drop), this snow had the frustrating characteristic of melting the first six inches or so, creating an air gap between the warm ground and the bottom of the snowpack. Thus, when breaking the trail, we were in reality breaking the air gap. Complicating the crumbling air gap, was the small trees which would catch the tip or tail of your ski. This complex pattern created a wearisome trudge until we discovered the brilliant idea that the road would be more conducive to travel. The idea of Auggies Run taking us along the ridge seemed quicker than following the road, or dropping into the bowl, provided an attractive alternative. The snow conditions were almost optimal here when we dropped into the bowl and we make a quick trip to Aspen Meadows. At Ridge, we broke into two groups; JK and Mariano heading down Kelly's Cutoff and Steve, Wade and Keith took Ridge to the connector with Trail #1. We ended up at the Crabtree Trailhead about 5PM.

Upon returning to the cabin, immediately turning in behind us, was Vincent. He had just landed in SFO from South Korea for his job at Apple. Not even jet-lagged, he had made a trek to Aspen Meadows and down Ridge. We had been following him!!! JK, Larry, Steve departed and the remainder enjoyed Mariano's fresh crab choppino. Because the DVD player was found non-functional, we were rendered only the TV for night entertainment. Vince was introduced to the report and radio protocols. He was provided a Patroller's Manual to supplement his already considerable experience basis.

The next morning was warm-perhaps 3 degree C-creating a sticky snowpack. This did not deter Vince as he showed stellar ski capabilities. After a quick tutorial down Graceland, we did Rocky Road (Wade-Zig Zag is first, right!!??) Close to the junction with Stan's Bowl, we encountered our first public contact. A woman and her two dogs were walking toward Rocky Road. Mariano departed upon our Gooseberry trailhead arrival. Vince, Wade and Keith again did Crabtree via Auggie's and out Kelly's Cutoff. We arrived at the trailhead to make our final public contact of a couple and their dog. Because the weather had turned so that the snow was becoming more sleet-like, we signed-out at 3:30PM.

--Submitted by Keith Gale

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