On Tuesday, December 20th, at the Park Creek ski area, the grooming Yankee Forker and his assistant, the bearded Emmonite, planned on packing out trails to the farthest reaches of that ski area through, as of yet, untracked snow. Davinius wished them lots of luck. It was Solstice Eve and the sun seemed barely alive. Snowflakes filled the sky, weighing down tree limbs and blowing across drifted meadows. The electricity flickered on and off as power lines sagged, flashing fiery sparks. Not a fit day for man nor beast thought Davinius as he remembered grooming through the deep snowdrifts bordering Alturas lake. On Monday, he had rolled the ski trail across Alturas Creek and all the way to the Lake, where he’d been rewarded with a vision of two bald eagles soaring and floating above the ice on howling wind currents. “What could that have meant?” he wondered, as he turned and headed back to the highway, rolling more soft corduroy along Sheep Thrills, Wapiti, the Connector, South Loop and Over the Hill. He had no doubt that those eagles loved one another and his thoughts turned to the pretty girl from the village.
On Friday, December 16th, the following Sawtooth ski trails were rolled through deep new snow… At Park Creek – Lupine, Shooting Star and Camus… At Alturas Lake – The Trail to the Lake as far as the bridge junction, Over the Hill, South Loop and Sheep Thrills. On Saturday morning, the 17th of December, 2016, the 2,513th anniversary of the dedication of the temple of Saturn in Rome and the first official state celebration of Saturnalia, temperatures in the Sawtooth Valley dropped to their lowest of this ski season. Minus 28 degrees fahrenheit was reported at the Smiley Creek Airport at dawn. The temperature had only risen to minus 9 degrees by 11 a.m. More trail grooming will hopefully take place this weekend if the temperature manages to climb from its present bone chilling zone. Davinius, the old pagan groomer was happy for once to stay indoors and began his Saturnalian Saturday by stoking the home fires and lighting candles to symbolize his ongoing quest for knowledge and truth. He then turned to celebrating Bachus, and randomly shouting out “Yo Saturnalia!!” in good cheer. “Ho, Ho, Ho Saturnalia!” responded his friend, the pretty girl from the village, as she pulled another loaf of banana bread from the oven.
On Monkey Day, the unofficial holiday celebrated internationally on December 14th, the ski trails at Alturas Lake and Park Creek are in the best shape so far this ski season, which is to say, at least they do exist and they are skiable. At Park Creek – Lupine trail, Shooting Star, Camas loop and some of the trail in Dry Gulch were rolled flat. At Alturas Lake – the Trail to the Lake, Over the Hill, South Loop, Sheep Thrills and Wapiti were all rolled flat. Expect trails to be soft, narrow and somewhat rough with no classic tracks or ginzu grooming. Now that the ski trails have finally been beaten in with great struggle through the deep early snows, the National weather service has issued a new storm warning stretching from 11 a.m. on Monkey day until 5 a.m.Friday morning with predicted snow accumulations of 10 to 14 inches and locally higher amounts in excess of 24 inches. Such serious monkey business in the upper atmosphere may slow ongoing grooming efforts.
It’s screaming crazy!!! On Monday, the 12th of December, the birthday of artist Edvard Munch, snow is falling down and piling up at the Alturas Lake ski area. Yesterday, the following trails were compacted and rolled after the weekend’s massive snow dump… Sheep Thrills, South Loop, Over the Hill and the Trail to the Lake as far as the bridge junction. These trails are still narrow and very rough with no classic tracks but suitable for simple touring. The groomer is hoping to reach Alturas Lake today. Expect more rough trails.
“I skied with two friends, Edvard, the artist and Davinius, the old groomer. Then the sun sank. Suddenly the sky filled with snow … My friends skied on, and I was left alone, trembling with fear. I felt as if all nature were filled with one mighty unending scream… It’s snowing!”
After a foot of new snow fell on Sunday, the first grooming of Alturas lake ski trails took place on Monday the 5th of December. Over the Hill, South Loop, the Trail to the Lake as far as the bridge, Wapiti and the Connector were all rolled. The first meadow crossings after leaving the parking area are still very brushy and beyond that, even stretches of trail that looked pretty good, clearly were only barely hiding obstacles bristling with danger for unsuspecting skiers. Boulders, stumps and even weasels lurked just below the surface in some spots, threatening to trip up skiers, throw them to the ground and tear their flesh. Until a bit more snow falls, skiing at Alturas lake should be approached with extreme caution.