The Bear Rivers, Part II
|Adam skis the other Cottonwood Canyon.
11.26 Tony GroveI’ve been slowly reading an enlightening book by renowned biologist E.O. Wilson called The Social Conquest of Earth which, while sounding excessively academic, does a great job of explaining the incredible set of circumstances that led to our species being the dominant force on this planet. Among the various elements of our evolution, migration played a critical factor, and while the search for food obviously dictated that homo sapiens expand their territory from Africa to Europe, Asia and the Americas’, I suspect that as the human mind slowly developed, the curiosity of exploring new lands may have also played a role in our wandering. Regardless of any scientific proof that we possess a natural inclination to roam, it was that force which drove my sub-species homo randoneeusto further exploration in the Bear River Range, whereas of this writing, I have skied more days this season than the Wasatch.
|Descending into the canyon
Mt. Elmer in the background.
|"We just ski down, and skin up... right?"
|Near the top with Cherry Peak and Mt. Naomi
in the background.
|Our lonely tracks down the bowl.
While whispy clouds lurched around Mt. Elmer and Cherry Peak, winds were remarkably calm, so we ate lunch on the top before making our run down the bowl. I skied cautiously near the top since it felt and sounded like I had only a few inches of white dust between my skis and the rocks and a short but wide rockband required some traversing to get around, but once I hit the sweet spot in the concavity of the bowl, the snow seemed velvety smooth. Around a 1,000 vertical feet down, the bowl flattened out and the snow got thinner, so we skinned northward, back to our original uptrack to check out the next bowl to the north. This shot wasn’t as good and we only went down about 400’ or so before deciding to head back to Tony Grove. Instead of dropping back down into the canyon and following our approach route back, we contoured north around the head of the canyon then made the long skin east along the ridge. This was one of those ridges to flat to ski, but with lots of little down slopes just steep enough and long enough kill your quads while trying to control skis that feel velcroed to the snow. And no matter how much I brace myself for the inevitable jerk at the bottom of the slope, I always pray my legs don’t pull out of my hip sockets when that Velcro finally grabs my skins and sends my body flying headlong over my tips in a bizarre, cartoonish manner.
|Opening 'er up as I felt more snow under me.
We finally reached Miller Bowl above Tony Grove Lake and I was elated to rip my skins off. We skied down the steep chute on the east side of the bowl where the first few turns were a little tenuous seeing that most of the snow seemed to slough off under our skis, but further down, where the snow really pooled on this northern aspect, we got some nice, deep powder turns. I finished the day with an exclamation point, face planting twice on this run and testing my knee’s elasticity, before navigating the painful maze of crusted snow and shrubbery just above the lake. I figured it wouldn’t be long before the road to Tony Grove Lake would fill in with snow, and the drive here was getting tedious, so I thought this might be the last tour in the area for a while, however Tony Grove isn’t the only place to ski in the Bear River Mountains.
|A somewhat complete track of our tour. This starts
from our descent into the canyon and follows
us back to the truck.