Sunday, November 20, 2011

Mt. Hoodoo Pre-Season

Today Emily, Chris and I had a truly spectacular day of pre-season skiing at Mt. Hoodoo in Santiam Pass before the resort officially opened.  Snow had been dumping in the pass all week and Sunday had called for bluebird skies so I got Emily and I up at 6am to grab Chris and head up to the Pass for my first time on skis in 10 months (the longest I've ever gone) and try out my new knee.  Because the weather was supposed to be so amazing I also grabbed the DSLR for the hike.  I grabbed my 122mm powder boards as well as my 88mm dynafit boards for options on the skin up the small peak.  

We got there around 10:15 in the morning after leisurely leaving town and stopping at Noah's for some food as well as gas.  I had taken it easy drinking at game night the night before so that I would be ready to tackle whatever today.  We drove up to the pass in clouds the entire way until we got up past about 4,000 feet when we broke into sunny skies.  When we got to Hoodoo there was a thin layer of low clouds stretching over the peak all the way to Black Butte and Sisters.  These clouds stuck around for most of the day but we were above them on Hoodoo and had spectacular views of Three Fingered Jack, Jefferson behind it and the Sisters Wilderness and Washington to the south.  

On our first trip up I chose to try out my fat Black Diamond Megawatts but failed to remember how awful they were with my 88mm skins from my Black Diamond Voodoo skis.  There just wasn't enough surface area of the skin on the snow leaving my freshly waxed skis from yesterday to slide on the skin track we were following up the mountain.  This turned out to be a real struggle for me and by the time I got up to the steeper part of the mountain near the top I had to give up and stop.  I tried hiking with my skis on my pack but I was sinking up to my waist and making no progress.  So, I stopped for some great photos and to take some pics and video of Emily and Chris coming down from the top.  Chris had Kya with him on the first ascent and she did great on the way up.  On the way down she had a little more trouble keeping up.  

Although my first trip down I could feel my knee a little bit when I turned hard it felt solid despite the minor pain which I think was more from my patellar tendon than my new ACL.  When we got to the bottom we put Kya in the truck along with a ton of extra clothing we didn't need under the bright sun of the afternoon.  I happily changed skis and clicked into my uber-light dynafit bindings for the next trip up the mountain which felt like a breeze compared to the heavy Duke Bindings and fat skis I had for the first run. At the top we got some pictures of each other and took a slightly different route down with a few less tracks.  The tracks on the peak were actually from Anna, Jon, Mark and Sarah from the day before.  Today they had decided to trek into Mt. Washington for a change of scenery and apparently despite the incredibly long, flat haul in, had a great time.

We only cruised down to mid-mountain on our 2nd run down and decided that we had the energy to hike back up one more time.  On the way up a guy Chris had met at Kelly Rice's party the night before showed up (it was his birthday too) and we followed him with tired legs to the summit for one last run.  At the top we met some guy and his girlfriend with their dog (also named Kya by chance).  The guy seemed a bit cocky too me as he described a film he was making that "everyone thinks is just amazing".  When he began to tell me how I should use my own gear and I found out he was originally from California I quickly decided it was time to leave and pretty much skied off while he was in mid-sentence wich Chris and Emily happily following me with grins on their faces...

The last run down was just like the ones before it... smooth and silky.  Even though it was only 3pm our legs were tired and I could tell Chris and Emily were ready to leave.  My legs felt pretty good and I may have had another run in me but I didn't want to push it either after my 10 month hiatus.  We cruised back down the hill getting photos and video along the way and headed back to Corvallis before the sun even set.  The weather forecast calls for sunny skies for the next 10 days in the Cascades which means melting and freezing every night and horrible skiing so today was perhaps the last day on the snow for a little while, thankfully it turned out to be amazing!

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