On Friday Ken and I went to Cooke City to do some back-country skiing. It never ceases to amaze me that we live in an place that gets less than 10 inches of moisture a year - meaning very little if any snow - and yet we have an area less than 60 miles away that gets some of the biggest snow fall of the country. Of course getting there is not so easy. Especially in the winter. Cooke City is really a place that shouldn't even exist in this day and age. It is truly one of the last of the old west towns. Once the first snow flies there is only one road in and out of town and that is through the northern part of Yellowstone National Park. For us to get there from our side of the mountain this time of year we have to drive several hours over treacherous mountains roads, park at Pilot Creek Trailhead and then snow machine 9 miles to Cooke. I have a Yamaha RX1 4-stroke. It is pretty sweet. I admit I have had it up to 80mph on the groomed flat but it really just a means of transportation for Ken and I to get us to some decent back-country skiing. I have had it stuck just enough times to know I really don't enjoy digging it out.
We took our machines to the top of the trail at Henderson Mountain then donned skis and skins for the mile hike back to some great tree skiing. Avalanche conditions have been rather scary lately and it is something that is always on your mind when you are out in the mountains on skis. We use randonee gear (sometimes called all-terrain skis) with bindings that allow us to switch between climbing up or skiing down. When we climb we have skins on the bottom of the skis that have a heavy nap allowing you to grip the snow. We made a few nice runs and then started our climb back out to our machines. By the time we got home it had been a 10 hour day with maybe four hours of skiing. It was worth it! It certainly beats standing in line at the hill after paying your $50 only to ski down marginal snow.
We leave tomorrow for four days in YNP and hope to do some more skiing plus some snowshoeing while we are there. I will take all the camera gear and will try to get some good winter animal and terrain photos. I will also take some beading along to work on. I am giving the presentation at WAV (art quilters guild) this month on beaded edges and I have created a couple samples that I am pretty pleased with.