California Powder with CLIF Bar and Company
Four Thirty in the morning and time to wake up, start of the first day. Greg, Adam, Christian and Liam are all waiting in the pickup for our drive to Truckee. Catching up with my old friends on the ride into the mountains is how it starts and man did I need a good catch up with these friends. It has been a year since seeing them last which isn't uncommon when all of us travel as much as we do.
The drive led us to the rental shop where we all got ourselves fitted and met up with one of the CLIF team members Paige. Soon enough Callum and Adam showed up. Callum and I had just finished a job in Africa last week and Adam and I hadn't seen each other since New Zealand last year so it was great to catch up with him as well.
We got out much later than expected to the trail head to start our skin up to the Bentley Hut. We also had to dig out parking spots for our cars because Tahoe was getting the most snow it had ever seen in years, good for skiing not so good for parking. Also randomly Jeremy Jones pulled over to chat and we learnt that he is actually a CLIF athlete.
We didn't start up to the hut until 3-4pm and there was a good 4 and half miles to the hut. Most of us were just taking our sweet time though because the snow had made everything into a wonderland and stopping for pictures was a must. Our guide finally waited for us and broke the news that we needed to actually start moving quicker if we wanted to show up before dark. Ooops! After two hours we had only made it 1/3 of the way apparently. That was kind of a kick in the butt. So cameras went away and we got serious. By the time the hut was 20 mins away I was feeling the exhaustion. Dusk had set in heavily and it woulf not be long before we needed headlamps. I remember stopping lots because I needed to catch my breath. Usually I am not that out of shape but the 50lbs pack wasn't helping matters. Also dragging skis probably had something to do with it.
Just around the corner to the arrival to our home for the next two days and I knew. The smell of smoldering wood caught my nostrils and the glow of cabin light enlightened the snow. I drug myself to the door and started to de-ski and de-skin. Liam showed up shortly after, catching a headlamp view of him putting his skis away.
Inside the hut was warm, the smell of dinner moved through my lungs and unfroze my body. The fire was roaring and I quickly changed into dry clothes. One by one everybody showed up to the hut, all smiles and steamy breath as they came through the door. It wasn't long before we broke out the wine and the guitar, Liam on the harmonica. Laughter filled every corner of the hut as we all started to thaw out and re-energize. The bag of CLIF bars got passed around heaps, working on re-fueling out worn out bodies. It wasn't long before sleepy tired eyes got the best of us and we retired to the loft for bed. Adam, lying beside me I whispered to him before dozing off to the sound of the harmonica "We have the best Job..." He said, "Da best."
Morning started slow as each of us peeled out of bed one by one. Cameras were already out and the fire was already lit. Coffee was my main priority...avocado bagel next. I went outside to climb into the snowed in outhouse, that was quite the challenge and a smelly place at that! It was time to hit the slopes.
We all gathered for a quick safety demo in the meadow. First part of backcountry is safety and with all the snow the avalanche hazard can be unpredictable. After we brushed up on beacon work we started on a test run. It was a bit of a climb and I was a little nervous to be honest. Powder is much different to groomed skiing. My worries quickly evaporated when I took the first few turns though. It was magic. It was like surfing on clouds, rolling in cotton candy, cutting through butter! Oh how glorious! It was all over too quickly and we headed back for lunch.
The rest of the trip went much like that, especially the last morning. I wasn't feeling like climbing that mountain again but with a rally inside of me I dug in and geared up. Oh how worth it. We traversed from the ridge which was such a long and floaty run. Dancing through trees and gliding through the meadow it was the perfect way to end the trip. We headed out later that afternoon and the glide down was much easier. Such an adventure and I will always be dreaming of California powder.