Sunday, April 10, 2011

Exploring Pennsylvania Creek

Navigating some tight curves through the trees in
upper Pennsylvania Creek. The camera could not
stay out long - the human had to turn & duck tree limbs.
It was supposed to snow 6 inches Saturday night but we only got about 2 - boo!

But, do not waste any powder in Spring - so to the backcountry Max, Zorro & I headed on Sunday morning.

Our plan was to start at the Indiana Creek winter trailhead, start up Indiana Creek and then hang a right onto the Pennsylvania Creek trail. In theory you can ascend up Pennsylvania Creek, then wrap around the mountain near the top and connect back down into Indiana Creek for a return route. We have never skijored Pennsylvania Creek, only hiked it in the summer. So this was an exploratory outing for the 3 of us.

What Happened: We did the heavily wooded Pennsylvania Creek ascent just fine. At around 11,100 feet you need to break from the main trail and go out & up another 400-500 feet (rising above tree line) before wrapping around the peak and heading back down into Indiana Creek. We broke from the main trail as planned and skijored up above tree line - nearing the peak. On the approach (above tree line), the wind really started to pick up. We had active snowfall plus blowing snow - my visibility dropped to about 20 feet. As we rounded the peak (planning to start the descent), my visibility was 15-20 feet and my Siberian pair said, "Are we starting downhill - woooo, crank up the speed - GO!" Limited visibility + steep downhill + Siberian turbo engines + unknown terrain = we turned around and headed back the path we came up. Yes, I chickened out (according to Max & Zorro) and we headed back down the same route we took up. It was still a ton of fun and Max & Zorro quickly got over the return route letdown and happily cruised down Pennsylvania Creek.

Vital Stats: 6.7 miles; 2h 10m total time; 1h 40m moving time; 4 MPH moving average; 16 MPH top speed; 1,500 feet of elevation gain (and loss). Certainly not one of our faster outings - but we were exploring uncharted territory and frequently stopping or slowing to assess the terrain & most probable path.
More weaving through the trees as we search for the route to the peak.
Taking a break before heading back down the main Pennsylvania Creek trail.
Zorro says, "Break?!? Who needs a break, think I'll dig to China!"
Max says, "Why do we keep stopping and staring at that silly GPS? Just
follow ME!"
The trail (or lack thereof) as we left the main Pennsylvania Creek trail and
headed upwards & onwards to ascend above tree line to the peak.
The GPS said "turn here" - so did Max & Zorro - so off we went ;-)

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