Monday, March 8, 2010


Saturday I drove back from Oregon. However, it was two hours too much driving for me and I felt pretty burnt out when I arrived home on the northern California Coast near San Francisco.

However, I was very happy after the first two hours of driving to find that Everette Memorial Highway was plowed all the way up to Bunny Flats where I like to mountaineering ski. However, since I was alone and my friend I usually ski with that lives in Mt. Shasta hadn't returned from his music tour yet I decided not to ski to 7 mile curve alone at my present age of 62 next month.

So, instead I put on my snowshoes and tried them for the first time. However, a very intuitive friend that is very accurate all the time called me on my cell phone and asked if anything was wrong. (I think she picked up I was insecure skiing at Mt. Ashland Ski Area where it is very steep and I had never skied before and was trying to get used to skiing there without getting injured in those conditions and very steep slopes). So, I said I was okay and that I was a little worried about my 20 year old daughter. She asked "Why". I said that even though she is still strong she has lost weight and is at least 15 pounds under a good weight to be for her. My intuitive friend said she was waisting away too. This also made me concerned for my old friend as she is now 83 and living alone and seldom sees her children. So I knew my old friend would pray for my daughter's health as she is one of the "Amazing Ones" with very powerful prayers of thousands of years of tradition of humans on earth. Though I started to feel relief for my daughter it became clearer to me that I might lose my old friend this year. It was hard to enjoy snowshoeing and skiing then but I still snowshoed a ways up Bunny Flats toward Beautiful Mt. Shasta and then put on my skis and skied down. I found the new type snow shoe very easy to put on and was even able to put on my new MSR snowshoes(the largest size they make) one handed while talking on the cell phone to my intuitive friend. The easy on and easy off rubber bindings with hooks and securing clips I found very well designed. As long as the center of the ball of your foot is on the edge of the toe hole so you foot goes into the snow when your foot pivots on the snowshoes as you step forward each time the snowshoes work quite well in almost any conditions.

However, I did have one experience in winter 1970 on rented old fashioned plastic snowshoes where there was 3 feet of powder snow on top of another 3 to 4 feet of pack. Under these conditions one could not really walk forward wearing a backpack without packing each step down with full weight about 3 times. If one tried to just walk forward one would fall into the snow. And with a full camping and hiking backpack this was very problematic. The other two climbers had to position themselves to pull their buddy out of the snow. It was usually the leader who would fall because of not packing a step fully enough. So, snowshoes are really great but even then there are some conditions that can be very difficult to snowshoe through.

However, since metal edged mountaineering skis sort of serve the same purpose as snowshoes I have mountaineering skied on up to 40 to 50 feet of snow at one time on Mt. Shasta. Though this height is a once in a lifetime experience, 20 to 30 feet of snow was normal during the 1970s and 1980s on Mt. Shasta above 8000 feet. However, under these conditions only the tops of most large pine and fir trees are visible but many times you don't want to go too close to these tree tops because if you go closer than about 6 feet from these tops you might fall in next to the tree and it could be very dangerous if not fatal in these extreme snow depths. So when cross country skiing or mountaineering skiing with extreme snow depths be sure you know enough about how to handle such conditions before attempting to ski at these snow depths.

Another thing to watch out for at extreme snow depths is avalanches, especially when there is newly fallen snow. I had an experience above tree line on Mt. Shasta like this. It cured me of skiing alone that high on the mountain in the winter. I was traversing a steep slope with metal edged skis and about a city block sized section of snow with me in the middle started traveling down the slope. Only by working as hard as I could in trying to stay on top of the snow was I able to wind up with myself waist deep when it came to a stop. It cured me of ever again skiing alone that high on the mountain in the winter. I was at about 9000 feet and about 500 to 1000 feet above tree line on Mt. Shasta when this happened.

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