Primitive and modern outdoor skills

Ski bumming in the Sierra


On friday Jess and I decided we should go skiing this weekend.

So, we drove up on friday, found an untraveled road up near where we were headed and slept in the truck that night. Next day we grabbed breakfast and rented ski's from the village at bear valley. They were super friendly. Then, we headed up to bear valley ski area. In general everyone at and around Bear Valley were friendly and happy and would joke back and forth with us. It was a great atmosphere.

I'd never ski'd before, I'd been on a real mountain on a snowboard once, and cross-country ski'd once. Jess was a great teacher (I.E. she explained the basics, ski'd behind me, etc. :P). After 4 green runs I decided it was time for blues, we did several blue runs, then ended up somewhere we couldn't see another way down, so came down a black.

I actually never fell until the black. On the black, despite it being short, I fell a lot, but I made it down! :D.

It was super warm, so we were wearing ran pants, short-sleeved shirts (Jess was in a tanktop), and sunglasses. I only wore gloves part of the time. The lifts weren't even cold.

We stopped for lunch and heated up some clam chowder at the (surprisingly nearby) car, then went back for a bit more. As it turned out we could've even brought in a picnic lunch. After a couple of runs though I realized my knees were out of juice - it turns out skiing when you don't know how to ski uses a LOT of knee muscle. By then I had decent control, but my muscles were starting to max out, and I was losing control of my skis. So, we called it a day before either of us got damaged.

We still had some day left, so we drove back to the village and returned the skis. Then, after a few U-turns, we stopped by the sherrif's office to get fire permits, then to the cross-country place to get a sno-pass. Then, it was off to the end of 4 where the road is closed. We parked here and after some repacking walked off down a snowmobile trail for the night with our packs and snowshoes.

We ended up camping in what is actually an established campground! It was closed though, and it's on national forest land, so we figured no problem. Our spot was on the edge of a beautiful lake with a view off to the mountains. We spent some time stomping down a spot to sleep, and then hunted up a bit of firewood.

One tree obliged me greatly when I found a very dead limb and tugged at it slightly, the tree let go. I thanked the tree and carried it back to camp. We bemoaned the irony greatly and kept considering, but decided we really shouldn't cut enough pine boughs to support a fire on top of the snow. So, we gave in and cooked dinner (ramen) on my woodstove. That worked fine. A bit of rum and chatting until after dark, then sleep.

It got *much* colder than we expected that night, we both woke up quite chilly, and didn't sleep terribly well. Our water-bottles froze enough that we couldn't get water out of some. Oh well, so it goes. Because of the warmth the previous day there was tons of hoar frost everywhere! Our sleepingbags were a bit damp. If I was on my side the shoulder that was up would get cold, despite having shifted all of the down to the top side of the bag. Overall we were certainly fine though, and it was so pretty we both agreed it was absolutely worth it. So much better than a hotel.

Next day we wandered our way home stopping at a couple of parks, including mount diablo. After some searching we found a way in on the backside. Walking around we marveled at the biome there. Beautiful pine nuts and oak trees. Tons of nice open space with grass and some water. We saw a lot of dug up ground where pigs had clearly been rooting about. The greenery was fresh and tasty looking. We sampled the stalk of what we believe was a wild artichoke (it was definitly a huge flowered teasel). It had an interesting flavor, pretty good though a bit strong.

So... total recurring costs to go skiing: Ski passes, gas to get there, food. In addition we had to purchase a snow park pass for this winter. Overall, pretty awesome, and WAY more fun than any hotel. This was a great use of boondocking.