"My Utah Boy Scout Moment" or "Why You Always Bring a Compass"
Day 3, 11.18.12 Catherine's Pass
|You can never undervalue landmarks|
when touring in the backcountry.
Yesterday (the 18th), we planned to continue the 2012-2013 Ski Wanderlust tour with a return to Tony Grove in the Bear Rivers, but the oncoming storm which could have made the road impassable, scrubbed that. Next we settled on Bountiful Peak, another new area closer to home, but the gate was locked at Farmington Canyon road, (probably due to a rock slide last spring) and we were onto Plan C: Big Mounain at the head of East Canyon. With a rain/snow line of about 7,500', Big Mountain and the surrounding areas looked pretty pathetic, bare slopes and soggy, rain soaked snow.
That's when we settled on returning to familiar ground, Little Cottonwood Canyon. Skinning up the eastern boundary of Alta carried little novelty, but they had snow, that is still a trump card over wanderlust. The storm put down 9" overnight and it was still falling, so we expected good skiing just about everywhere and decided on Catherine's Pass, an area we knew fairly well... or so we thought.
|Checking our snowpack|
before making the first lap.
|Jared on our 2nd lap on|
supposedly familiar ground.
|The red lines are our descents, the blue dot is the crux|
of our adventure where 3 canyons meet.
No one speeds to judgement on the numerous lost hikers in the Wasatch faster than I. We could have easily fallen into that category yesterday, but do you know why we didnt'? We had a map, we had a compass (keep in mind, no GPS) and when we realized something wasn't right, we returned exactly the way we came. It's a lesson all travelers in nature, regardless of how experienced they think they are, need to heed. And I contend that you are better off with a map and compass and the skill to use them than just a GPS. GPS technology takes too much reasoning and route finding out of your hands while a map and compass require you to interact with the surroundings, activating your brain. If we get to reliant on electronic gadgets, our evaluative process becomes weak and that tool is so important to surviving in the wilderness. Are you listening Boy Scout leaders? Plus, batteries in the cold don't last very long.
|Skiing out with the familiar Alta in the background.|