Expecting about 8 riders to show up ready to ride at 8 am I arrived at the Reload Snow Park at 7:40. With the temperature a little below zero, no wind, clear sky, and well over 2 feet of new snow, The Sno-Park had a narrow pass one blade wide around the perimeter. I followed Kelly and Ken followed me. The turns were tight and Ken had to unload to get around the turn, we were given a spectacular Monster Truck demonstration by Dennis as he cleared a space for himself. Although all the CDS riders were on time riders continued to show up even after 9.
Dan Johnson had to use a torch to thaw the ice in the lock on the gate to the Bypass. That took some time and by then we had 18 riders. Even at full throttle the leader was pushing a lot of snow. Fortunately we had several very good riders who took turns leading. Even going downhill at full throttle if you let off on the throttle you were likely to go over the handle bars. We went through Anderson Camp taking turns leading but trying to keep the leaders breaking trail, when the trail got steep GLENN MARKOWITZ lead. He had my GPS tracks on his GPS and lead through the hiking trail in record time leaving an easy to follow track. He missed the exit to the road at the end and it took awhile to get the leaders turned around. The drop off to the shortcut to the 1911 road had lots of stumps showing so we took the road but had to negotiate a large tank trap. While doing that we got word that a girl had gone off the road and needed help. That recovery took over an hour. In the meantime we broke trail to the Nachez Road, and were all there at 1:00. The group, given the options to go back as we came, go back the 1913, or go to W/J, decided on the later. After some delays going up Ice Hill we arrived at W/J at 2:10. The group gained six more riders who had left Reload at 11:00 am, followed our tracks, and arrived at W/J shortly after us.
After fuel and food, in an attempt to take what we hopped was the shortest route back, we left W/J AT 3:27 taking the 1703 road to the Manastash. Trying to take advantage of the remaining light the leaders kept breaking trail, and Dan brought up the rear keeping stragglers in line. Since no other sleds had been on the trail this year following was easy even when we left the normally groomed road. With the difficulty in breaking trail in the off road portion different leaders broke the off trail portion. Near Bald Mt. Glenn followed a GPS track some distance toward Squaw Rock before I could redirect them. The ridge at the Devils Slide was blown in and took some time to negotiate. We got to tripod at 5:41. From there on we were in the dark. And, we ended up with leaders that didn’t have the GPS track. We ended up doing some slow log jumping arriving at Buck Meadows at 7:37.
After stopping at the South Fork Road for a 10 minute rest at 8:15, we reached the gate off the W&S Road at 9:17 only to find it locked and there was no way to get around it. Going through the W&S Sno-Park and down the road to Nelson Siding we got back on the normally groomed road. At that time several riders had their oil light on, so an unsuccessful attempt was made to see if oil was available at one of the houses we were passing. Back on the trail Ken reached Big Creek first and attempted to cross. Unfortunately there was a mix of ice and open water and he sank in the middle. After almost an hour we got his sled back on the East side of Big Creek. Attempts were made to get the water out of his sled and start it. In the mean time Glenn, Kelly, and I went looking for a way around Big Creek. On reaching Nelson Siding I knew my hands were hurting but was unable to operate my pack clasp to get out dry gloves and made the mistake of thinking I could make it to the car. As a result the almost hour ride to the Reload was too long and I have badly frost bit fingers.
It was not possible at -4 degrees to get the water out of Ken's sled and start his engine. Although Ken got wet he changed his gloves and had no problems with frost bite. He also kept his heart rate up doing jumping jacks, smart way to keep peripheral circulation. A call was made and a friend picked up Dan and one other who went back and picked up the rigs. The following day several from CDS went back with Ken and retrieved his sled.
During the daylight hours Kelly took many pictures.
KEEP CHECKOUT RIDES TO 8 OR LESS RIDERS
GO OVER THE RULES OF RIDING AT START OF RIDE
IF GLOVES GET WET CHANGE THEM QUICKLY- ASK FOR HELP IF CAN’T DO
THAW ANY FROZEN BODY PARTS AS SOON AS POSSIBLE WITH 104 DEGREE WATER
DRY HEAT DESICCATES THE SKIN
--Fred Wemer, Ride Leader