This was a transition day as we needed to drive to Bozeman and begin the second part of our winter adventure vacation. We wanted to be off the trail at 2pm so we could pack up camp and head back north at a decent hour. We decided to ski the Chittenden Rd Loop again figuring if we began early enough we’d get back in time and still get in 10.6 miles.

We started in the dark by headlamp. It was once again a cloudy day, but this time the winds were not fierce. We moved quickly along the track which barely had any new snow. This time we didn’t pause at Calcite Springs or Tower Falls. We just kept moving opting to once again go clockwise around the loop.

We did not see any wildlife, nor did we take time to stop for breaks. The trip ended up being an endurance test. How far and fast could we really go on xc skis? It turned out that the answer was 10.6 miles in 4 hours!We returned to camp and packed up our home. It’s always sad leaving especially when I knew were would not be at a hotel and not outside… but at least our vacation wasn’t over yet! Plus, Jan 20 marked the ten month Anniversary of Damien and I… something  to celebrate along with the fact that the next few days would be filled with climbing waterfall ice!

Today our plan to to ski the Chittiden Loop passing Tower Fall along the way. Eric and I had only skied up to Calcite Springs last year and I was excited to do a new track. Things did not go exactly as planned. We skied in half snow, half wind and half sun up the closed Tower Fall Road. It has no been groomed in some time but the tracks as visible in the fresh powder. Almost immediately we found that due the the warm air we had to quick was our skis. It helped a little but they were still a bit on the sticky side. We passed the lovely view from the Calcite Springs Lookout and observed the hot springs below by the Yellowstone River.

Tower Fall was only half frozen and I had fantasies of climbing it with my ice tools… if i wouldn’t result in my getting killed on the rotten soft ice. We skied from the falls into the campground were we encountered a 12 point buck elk feeding on the dried grasses. We made a massive loop around him and found the Chittenden Road. We were getting more and more frustrated with our skis as we half glided half walked up the hill due the snow gathering on our skis. After about 1/2 mile we encountered a sign indicating that the road was closed to foot traffic so we turned back (Marc informed us that the sign was supposed to only be there in summer and should have been removed).

We decided to continue up the Tower Fall Road (also the other way to go around the Chittenden Loop). We got in about 2.5 miles before deciding to turn back. The snow was sticking to our skis in 3 inch chucks. Wax was not working at all. It was a trudge and just not fun anymore. So we skied back to the car stopping to release some of Eric’s ashes by the Calcite Springs. Last year he had skied from the springs to the car shirtless! All the while the weather kept changing it’s tune. We had blue skies, heavy snow, whiteout wind and clouds.

By then it was about 3:15 so we took a drive down Lamar Valley Road in search of wildlife. Whiteout conditions prevented most visibility, but we saw some bison. Hopefully tomorrow won’t be as sticky!