The famous Rendezvous Ski Trails wind through the forest at the edge of West Yellowstone, MT. The trail system covers 35 km of groomed xc ski trails and a biathlon range (used for Olympic athlete training). The Rendezvous Ski Trails was our first stop of the day. We arrived in dim light as thick snow swirled around us in the high winds. We were uncertain how far we would end up going. We had a vague plan to complete the Rendezvous and Dead Dog Loop which would make a total of 12km… that quickly flew out the window. The trails were so well groomed and we felt so into xc skiing that morning that we decided to do the longest loop possible and cut off the Rendezvous Trail at Windy Ridge turnoff. Windy Ridge (6.5)   “Most Difficult” due to the climbing and up and down terrain. We didn’t find it very difficult though, but then again we’re used to climbing. The trail take you up to a ridge as the name suggests and it was indeed very windy as the name also suggests! On a clear day I am sure there would have been views, but it was the stormiest weather yet. We were happy to dip back into the cover of trees. When we returned to the Rendezvous Trail we backtracked a bit and turned off to complete the Dead Dog Trail (6km) before continuing forward on the Rendezvous Trail. It was still kind of early though so we went ahead and cut off the shorter Rendezvous Trail Loop and to join the part of the Deja View tail making the loop wider. By then we were tired from the wind, cold and snow. We arrived at the TH warming hut at 2:15pm and took a brief lunch break. We’d gone 14.5 miles.

The day was not over yet. We drove to the other side of town to the Riverside Trailhead. In the thick sno we snapped on our xc skis for the final time. The trail is used by both snowshoers and skis. The first mile is amazingly straight and flat leading you into Yellowstone National Park to a junction. Here you can make a choice to do the Upper River Loop or the Lower River Loop. We opted to take the Upper Loop due to the time and weather. Marc gave us a very important tip the night before: “Take the LEFT side of the loop. It is better to climb up this one hill than ski down.” So we took the left side. The trail followed the shoreline of the Madison River. The area is known for Eagles and bison, but there were none today. It was quiet, peaceful and very very white! The trail eventually turns away from the river and into the forest… and we saw how important Marc’s advice had been. This is a very large ann nearly vertical hill. This is back enough, but there’s more. There are only a very narrow passage up the hill since trees are poking up everywhere. Skiing down would require making very sharp turns indeed. Once mistake and you’d slam into a evergreen. We very slowly side stepped up the hill which, though horrible, was much better than risking a crashing going down. The loop rejoined with the straight trail and we headed back to the parking lot.

The snow didn’t let up nor did the wind. After dinner and our final good-byes to Marc Eric and I packed up and drove back up Route 191. We went about 35mph which was good on two counts: the snow was so powdery there was snow dust getting kicked up by other cars and, second, a fox crossed the road in front of us without looking both ways! We watched aboput 8 snow plows on the opposite side of the road pass by. No snow plows ever were on our side of the road! Either way, the going was not so bad and we were able to speed up as we got further north. The snow stopped by the time we reached Bozeman… its time to go back to real life and to enter 2014.

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