24 February 2016

Fishhook Yurt 2016

I woke up with a vicious headache. I was tangled in my sleeping bag on a bunk in a yurt, listening to the even breathing of the other people. The wood stove held only ashes. My headache and cottonmouth weren't surprising, given that I had done my best to help empty the keg that we had dragged four miles in on a sled. The fifteen of us had taken turns with the three sleds, but the keg sled was the worst, equal to my weight.
 Our huge posse of weighed-down skiers on the ingress
Most pics courtesy of Other Tyler
It's so nice having actual pictures!
I drank some snowmelt from my bottle and tried to wriggle back into sleep, but my guts started protesting. Disconcerted, I gathered together slippers, glasses, headlamp, and jacket, and lurched out to the designated pee tree and threw up into the urine-melted hole in the snow. This happened six or seven more times that night and the next morning, until I was just throwing up bitter yellow stomach matter. I couldn't keep water down. My yurt mates looked at me in sympathy as they drank coffee and came back and forth from the kitchen hut and gathered up their gear for a long tour. 
The sleeping yurt
Pic courtesy of Jocelyn
They left me with one of the long-distance radios and some electrolyte tablets. I tossed around on the bunk, sleeping, trying to drink, and throwing up. I listened to their radio chatter. The group of fourteen split into several groups and climbed a ridge of Williams Peak until it dwindled to a rocky knife edge. We were in the Sawtooths, a range even more striking and wild than the Tetons. Uncertain of the terrain and snowpack and uneasy with such a large group, they skied a couple of conservative laps off the ridge. 
Erica on the final climb. Wish I had been there.
In the afternoon I drank half a glass of electrolyte mix and kept it down. Good enough. I started shuffling around camp, performing ablutions, adhering skins to skis, wincing as I put on my cold boots. I found the group's track out of the meadow and started heading up, so very slowly, taking timid sips of water. Using the amazing radio I confirmed that they would return the same way, and after some climbing I saw them come around the corner. I transitioned to downhill mode and we all returned to camp together, down a south-facing slope that had been, to put it indelicately, sun-fucked. 

I ate a cracker with cheese as the sun set and felt all life return to me. The next day as we packed, cleaned, and returned to the trailhead, I felt buoyant. 
Hang out time in the hut
Aside from Tyler and me, the group was all from Logan, UT, recruited by Alex and Erica from the small populace that adventures and drinks (Logan being the whitebread capital of Utah). Cooking and cleaning responsibilities were divvied up peacefully and the large group (usually a liability) traveled through terrain smoothly and safely with good communication. 
The kitchen hut, always cozy and sometimes good-smelling
With a different mindset I might have been crushed with disappointment, missing my chance to ski the Sawtooths because of a freak twelve-hour bug, but it felt more like a fact-finding mission. We learned a lot about the yurts: what to pack (just warm clothes, beer, and food), how long to stay (longer), which yurt to book next time to improve access to the huge aesthetic lines on the stark peaks (any of the yurts besides Fishhook). 
The meadow near the yurt offered up spectacular vistas
Some of us took a quick lap on Galena Pass on the way home. The pass was the opposite of our Sawtooth experience: well-preserved fresh snow, zero approach, and a high gratification to effort ratio. 
A fast easy Galena lap to finish off the weekend
Alex has now moved to Teton Valley, with Erica to follow after finishing her master's degree. Through some divine grace we found a beautiful rental that will house the four of us and two dogs very comfortably. 

All is well in Idaho. 

The whole gang

10 February 2016

Teton Reality Check

This morning Sophie encountered a moose up close for the first time. 

This moose is in retreat from the deep snow in the hills and has been hanging out in Mountainside Village for a couple days nibbling buds off decorative trees. It's a big'un, either a mature lady or a male denuded of his rack for the time being. He is a big awkward animal, with his sloping walk and pronounced hump and long bulbous head. We all have been watching him from windows and porches, posting pictures online, driving slowly. 
In no hurry
Pics courtesy of Bruce 
I let Sophie out to pee and her hackles rose. Oh shit. He came stomping through the neighbors' yard, slowly at first but as she cowered and barked, moving faster, a very half-assed charge. I ran back up the stairs and yelled at Sophie, wondering distantly if he would ram my car. But a moose in winter is not a moose in autumn; conserving calories takes the highest precedent and the unpredictable hormonal rages are forgotten in the quest for survival. 

He changed his mind and lumbered away. Sophie decided he was a wimp, backing down from a fight. She barked and prepared to give chase, but I collared her and told her very firmly what I thought about that, and sent her in the other direction to perform her morning duties. The moose, nonchalant and knee deep in snow, arced his neck to find more edible bits on the maples lining the boulevard. 

He's still hanging out, not really bothering anyone. Welcome to Idaho.

Just the friendly(ish) neighborhood moose