099 - 2010-05-06 Bell Lake Yurt Fail!

Based on a great trip last year, we had picked our dates for the yurt in October for this weekend. This year we would have 3 nights and 4 days up at Bell Lake. Things didn't quite play out as we had planned. Wednesday started out clear, sunny and warm with a Winter Storm Warning in the forecast, but those things often don't pan out. This one did in a big way. Snow began in town that night and, after getting a bit of a late start, myself, Gibby, Jim and Ryan set off for the Tobacco Roots. Driving that way the snow started to get deeper, the opposite of what one would expect in the sagebrush area between Bozeman and Pony. After making the turn down S. Willow Creek in Pony, Gibby had to put chains on and I got the FJ stuck. After this delay, we proceeded down the deeply snow covered road. After making the turn onto the FS road a construction crew's adhoc plowing made the drive a little more manageable. However the construction folks only plowed as far as their site. At that point we hooked up with Gene the Forest Service guy who was putting chains on his Silverado to try to make back to the campground. This setup proved to be a virtual snowplow and we followed him in to the campground.

Now we ready to get down to business and head in to the yurt, albeit later and further away than we had planned on. We set out into at least 18" of nice heavy fresh snow at the campground. I was pulling a pulk (sled), a good way to transport a lot of gear. As we went on the trip quickly became breaking trail in the heavy wet snow. This didn't work out well with the pulk, as the skin track the others were setting was much narrower than the width of the pulk. The first uphill bit quickly became quite tedious and I was forced to use hip thrusts to get the sled to move forward at all. I soon realized that this wouldn't work and stopped to ditch the pulk and throw what I could into the pack. When I stopped I could finally look back and realized that the sled was doing a slow plow thing in the track, explaining my futility at dragging it.

After ditching the pulk I soon caught up to the others, feeling buoyant at being to move so quickly. Alas, this was mostly because I able to use the track set by the others. Once I joined them and we set out together, progress was limited by the pace of person in front who was breaking trail in deep heavy snow. And that progress was slow, after a couple hours we realized that making it in to the yurt on that day was a pipe dream. We dropped our packs and figured we could at least break trail for the next attempt. And the progess was still slow despite no packs and trading off breaking trail. At 5 we called it a day, almost reaching the normal trailhead. In all, we were making about 1/2 mile an hour and this is with a strong crew. The ski back down to the cars went a good bit quicker. Once there we consumed some cold beverages and discussed plans for the next attempt

Conditions - Deep heavy new snow.

Ski - K2 Anti-Piste 181

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