Friday, March 10, 2017

Time to Roam

Remember that cafe in Moab?  Well, I'm here again.  A morning of chores is all that stands between me and a spring season at Indian Creek.  I've been off work for nearly two weeks now.  I stuck around in Washington for the classic Early March Pow Dump of the PNW.  This time when I drove away from Leavenworth, I looked forward to my return.  It takes a while to find your place in a small town with a tight community, and I finally feel like I've connected with the people I've been looking for. 

Matt, during one of many "best days ever"

All that being said, I was itching for a few weeks away.  The first stop, like usual, was Hood River.  I visited all my favorite places and people and got a day in on the mountain.  A girlfriend suggested we go out to Anthony lakes for a few days to see a local band play on tour.  Nestled in the mountains of Eastern Oregon, Anthony Lakes has one chair and only costs $35 a day.  When Kristle and I arrived Saturday morning, the overnight lot was packed with RV's and vans.  We set up our little hobo car camp and hit the slopes as the snow came down with fury. 

Anthony Lakes slack-country

The entire weekend was so much more than I expected: storm skiing interspersed with sunbreaks that opened windows to the craggy peaks just out of bounds, warm and welcoming locals that kept the energy flowing through the two-day party.  A woman who called herself Cookie was in an RV across the road.  As we geared up around 8:30 Saturday morning, she greeted us with a mason jar full of gummy bears soaked in vodka.  It was a one of a kind experience that I won't soon forget.

Greenneck Daredevils rocking the lodge at Anthony Lakes
Winterfest, complete with fireworks!

Sunday evening I got back on the road toward California.  Aside from the brief hiccup of running out of gas on I-84, I made good time.  I lost daylight somewhere around the Oregon-Idaho border and spent the next many hours following my dim headlights down the two lane highway.  Every so often there was a seemingly abandoned town I had never heard of and I only had one radio station for 200 miles.  Just after crossing into Nevada (to which my first thought was, "Why the f**k am I in Nevada?") I found a dirt road to pull off and sleep.  The wind howled all night long and I slept restlessly, dreaming of strangers knocking on my windows.  In the morning I found myself in a broad valley bordered by steep ridges; Nevada's stark Basin and Range, a textbook zone that all good geologists know.

My sleepy copilot

I drove 400 more miles that day, continuously confused about where exactly I was (I apparently need a geography lesson) and arrived in Mammoth Lakes, California around lunch time.  In three days I fit in as many hot spring sessions.  We skied the backcountry one day, the resort another and I felt woefully inept trying to breathe the high elevation air. 

The clumptastic approach
Scoping our line
John before dropping in to TJ bowl.
Yesterday I drove for a burly 12 hours across what might be the most unpopulated stretch of road in the country and limped into Moab, grateful to see a familiar place.  It's fully spring here and the warm desert air is beginning to melt the ice out of my bones.  I'm always sad to leave winter behind, but I can already feel the sun on my face and the gritty sandstone on my skin. 

Bridger Jack Mesa

"May your rivers flow without end... down into a desert of red rock, blue mesas, domes and pinnacles and grottos of endless stone, and down again into a deep vast ancient unknown chasm where bars of sunlight blaze on profiled cliffs, where deer walk across the white sand beaches, where storms come and go as lightning clangs upon the high crags, where something strange and more beautiful and more full of wonder than your deepest dreams waits for you -- beyond that next turning of the canyon walls."  
- Edward Abbey