March 31st, 2017 in Yesterday
Family weekend in April and we have our “kid snowmobile” team. It is sunny and beautiful and the kids are happy!
As the big snow winter of 2016-17 comes to an end I think back on spring thaws of the past. Many years we have had warm spring weather late in our ski season that caused the snowmobile route to melt out. It would be OK if the melt was gradually up hill, but of course that is not the case. Our upper road can melt out in portions, some higher up which is a nightmare for transportation. But this year we are still snowmobiling the last 4 miles on a really good snow pack!
So how do you solve the upper melt out problem? One way is carpeting. Many years ago friends of ours were purchasing a mortuary to remodel into a veterinary clinic. They removed the old carpeting and donated it to High Camp since it was an early melt out that year. We used that old carpeting to lay over the gravel so we could protect our snowmobiles from damage. This way we could continue to bring guests up on snowmobiles traveling over the upper bare patches with the protection of the old rugs. Theses are of course stored in the rafters at High Camp….always ready for anything!
Another issue is logging! They used to log quite a bit into the winter, clearing the road up as far as they needed to with a grader. When the snow got too deep to log they pulled out…usually in January. So, the part of the road they had cleared began to get the winter snow pack, but it was never as deep as it would have been without the plow, of course. So, during the spring thaw it would melt out early and be a sea of mud. Sometimes we could drive it using the snow chains to get through the mud. Other times we tried to create a snowmobile route over the clear cut to bypass the mud. As a result snowmobiling was quite a challenge.
There was one year when the lower snow froze and firmed up long enough for us to drive our light 4-runner over it. Then we would snowmobile to the melt out area and load gear into the 4-runner…guests usually walked, and drove down to the lower snow area to snowmobile again down to another suburban that was parked at the mid mountain transfer point. Then we would reload the gear and the guests and drive down to the parking lot.
So, you can understand how a big snow year with a cool spring feels pretty good right now.