Mineral Springs 01/24/2010
After DeeAnn called to tell me that she had heard that the snow at cabin was a sheet of ice and she wasn’t going to ride on ice, I did a check out ride with Ed Lightfoot, looking for an alternative site on Wednesday Jan.20, 2009. We rode all the normally groomed trails at Cooper Lake and French Cabin Creek, putting on 64 miles in 4 hours including lunch and found the trails to be well groomed but the play areas full of moguls and difficult to play in at temperatures in the mid 40s. Most of the areas were north facing had lots of snow, and we had no problems with ice. There was adequate parking in Roslyn and snow on the Coal Miner Trail on Wednesday. DeeAnn returned from California and called me Saturday to say that there was mostly ice and lots of bare spots on the Coal Miner Trail. She said she did not plan to ride on ice with the resulting overheating problems. We changed the start to try to avoid the Coal Miner Trail. Twelve people who followed the instructions and notified me that they were coming showed up on time. Two people showed up at the original site, and when no one showed up there called Elwood. We waited for them to reload and come to the start.
We left the start point at 9:13 am. With the gate closed to the gravel yard and no snow on the road through the yard to the groomed trail or the adjacent fields, we travelled on mostly dirt and ice for a mile to the groomed trail, then on mostly ice for the next 2.5 miles. All the sleds experienced overheating problems and stopped frequently to apply ice to the tunnel. About a half mile from the ridge, the trail became snow and my borrowed sled had no heating problems for the rest of the day. A few sleds had some heating problems where we cross the north fork of the Teanaway River and Story Creek at about noon, and again the last mile returning. The weather was in the mid 30s with high clouds. At the top of the ridge, about 3.5 miles into the ride, we stopped to regroup and Elwood notified us by radio that four of them were turning back due to heating problems. He subsequently told me he lost his scratchers and didn’t have tools to fix them.
The remaining ten of us travelled on snow that had not been travelled on for a few weeks, and it was often difficult to even tell where the actual trail was located. I had given my previous GPS tracks to Glenn who had them downloaded into his GPS. When I was unsure of the trail, or got off track, I’d consult with him, a process that occurred several times throughout the day. About ten miles into the trip, we crossed a small creek, and Bill Yeager’s sled came out of it looking like it had just eaten a big bite of seaweed. I told him we were going up off road on the ridge above us and would cross the Teanaway River where he’d have a chance to wash it off. He said his Cat didn’t like water. I told him I’d see what it looked like when we got there. I had difficulty locating the ridge trail but Glenn located it. I led Bill Johnson, Glenn, and Curtis to Pat’s crossing along the ridge trail. When the rest of the group failed to arrive, we got on the radio and were told they were at the bridge. Apparently Bill Yeager had conveyed to Bob Seeyle that he was concerned about doing a water cross. Bob told him he knew a way across a bridge and proceeded to lead the rest of the group to that bridge. However, it was not the bridge I had intended to cross.
At Pat’s Crossing the water was about 2’ deep on the near shore with a 18” drop into the water. The far side, about 30 feet away, was a gentle out. Bill Johnson also was not excited about crossing, but if he had to he would. Believing the six other sleds had gone to the bridge 1.1 miles to the east, we decided to take the shortest route and cross the creek. Glenn said to give it speed and keep the nose up. Starting back 20 feet, Glenn hit the throttle, landed with a big splash and coasted up on the opposite shore. Curtis followed with the same display. Bill took out my shovel, and I broke down the bank to a more gentle entry and followed. Bill was left and made the cross successfully. We went east to the bridge but did not find the rest of the group. Glenn looking on his Garmin noticed that Jim, who had the same GPS, was about 3 miles to the west. They had gone west instead of east to the bridge we had planned to cross on the return trip. Glenn went back and retrieved them. This miss communication cost us 51 minutes and stresses the importance of notifying the leader before doing unplanned moves.
BILL JOHNSON at Pat’s Crossing
After some overheating problems crossing the area in the Teanaway, we started on our way to Red Top on either previously untraveled roads or cross country. Most of it was covered with snow but not enough to be deep enough to have moguls. Glenn did a great job of following the track, and where he over shot the mark I remembered the off road turns. We took a little time to play in the play area near Red Top where a few did get stuck enough to need help.
We arrived at Mineral Springs at 1:56 pm with 40 miles +/- to find the Bowens and Hyytinens waiting there for us. We had a leisurely lunch and were back on the trail at 3:13. It was now lightly snowing but the temperature was still marginally below freezing and visibility was still good. We took the nicely groomed trail to 29 Pines then along Rye Creek that had also been recently groomed. Those near the front took time to ride through the meadows and climb a few hills along the way. The more adventuresome riders took the opportunity to take a short side trip to Teanaway Butte to hone their side hilling and deep snow navigating skills.
Arriving at the Tee where DeeAnn usually leads us home and with several being short of fuel, Bob said he felt very comfortable leading us back to the ridge. Although his route was a little more circuitous and gentle than DeeAnn’s steeper shorter route, it got us back to the cars at 5:57 pm with a little over 80 miles. A few had heating problems in the last mile but we were able to get around the closed gate with all arriving with no damaged machines or accidents. As I was told a long time ago, and I think this day qualifies, any time you arrive back at the rig with clean hands and an empty gas tank you must have had a good time. Submitted by Fred Wemer as viewed from the front with special thanks to Dan Johnson for allowing me to use his 600 Ski Doo to lead this ride.