Saturday, January 08, 2011

December 21 - A Snow Trek During the Lunar Eclipse

On Monday, December 20, at noon thirty the snow was up to the eaves of the roof, back and front of our cabin located at 7800 feet in the eastern Sierra Nevada mountains of California.

Reaching the generator house was a half hour endeavor of snow clearing. The snow covered the tarp on the wood pile a solid three feet. You couldn't see the bridge railings over Lone Pine Creek because the snow was a good foot above them and the entire bridge was full of snow.

We left the cabin with daypacks and a snow shovel to head for the Toyota Ute (pick up) that was parked in the lot next to the road closed sign at the bottom of the mountain three miles away.

Usually this trek should have taken no more than two hours even with my almost healed spained ankle and my Thanksgiving sprain of my other ankle that was doing better, but still quite swollen.

The day before it had rained, melting much of the snow from the previous storm and four snow shoers had made a path down the road which we intended to follow as soon as we were through the campground and past the lower gate.

That same day my husband had driven the car down to the bottom parking lot in case the NOAA weather folks were too conservative in their estimates of 6 inches of snow fall in the canyon predicted for Monday, 20 December. I had followed his trail out to the road where I encountered two 30+ mountain climbers/rock climbers coming up the road without snow shoes.

They parked at the 7000 foot point on the road which was clear of snow. We chatted and they shared that my husband was on his way back up the canyon. I invited them in to enjoy a cup of hot chocolate which they accepted. They were headed to the Whitney Portal to snow camp.

The two young men preceeded us down the snowshoe trail the next day without their snow shoes..urgh..holes, holes, post holes.

On Monday, the 6'2" Australian to whom I am married broke trail through snow that started out at chest height as soon as we were on the other side of the bridge.

We left the cabin at noon thirty on Monday and arrived at the parked Toyota at 4 a.m. Tuesday morning. We trekked through the total lunar eclipse of Tuesday morning.

Snow at the curve where the young men had parked their car was six foot deep.

Several times I tried to get Graham to go on and just let me lie there in the snow where I had fallen one more time. He refused and harrassed me into getting up and moving forward.

What a night!

Being 70 has it's perks, one of which is stamina even when exhausted.

I'm pretty lucky and damned fortunate to have a partner to keep me going, to break trail, and to harangue me into using my daypack on which to push up out of 4-6 foot snow drifts repeatedly.

At the bottom we found our Toyota sitting in four foot of snow at the road closed sign.

We turned on the motor and the heater and spent the next three hours resting/kind of sleeping in the cab.

At 7:30, I called Doug Thompson at Whitney Portal Hostel and asked if he could drive the ten miles to the parking lot and pick us up.

He had picked up the two mountain climbers the night before after their ten hour descent to that same parking lot.

Like the young men, we walked an additional mile down the road because the ice and incline were so great that Doug's three axel six wheel drive V8 truck wouldn't negoitate the road any farther.

Back on with the boots and the very wet gear and in the morning sunlight we headed east. Doug met us at a point where the snow was still four foot deep. He delivered us to the hostel where we are now resting comfy.

The Aussie went back up the next afternoon with a rental car and a brand new snow shovel, dug the Toyota free so that he could attach the truck chains we purchased earlier in the month and drove the Toyota out.

It's taking a while to get my energy back; my thighs think that walking down staris is just too much to ask.

I had no dry clothes, so the Aussie when shopping at Evolution..the little mountaineering shop in town and bought me shoes, socks, fleece pants and two fleece tops.

The only real injuries are to my thumbs that got a tad too cold in the wet, but they are improving. Feeling is returning to the tips.

All of this has endeared me to the idea of having a partner who cares enough to make sure that we both survive.

I wish you all a most prosperous spiritual January.

Keep on loving one another. Life is way too short to waste time with negatives.

I love thinking of each of you enjoying the companionship of those who love you. And finally, I am convinced that all that really matters in life is that we are loved and love and that we make time to be with those who love us and whom we love.

Things are of little importance - except, of course, for the ski pole that I snapped one of the times when I fell.