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High Camp above
Darwin Canyon along the Alpine Col Loop
The gentle flutter of nylon
eased me out of my slumber. Despite my semi-conscious
state, an involuntary smile crept across my face; the
unmistakable sound of a tent flapping in the breeze told me
that I wasn't home in San Francisco. I was sleeping
above timberline. In the Wilderness. Alone.
There are few things better than
a backcountry ski trip with a few good friends, and yet solo
trips have their own magical appeal. There is no greater
sense of solitude than gliding along a carpet of snow deep in
the wilderness with nary a soul around for miles. I also
have found myself doing more and more solo trips of late since
many times my ability to get away is decided at the last
minute. This trip was no exception. I was brushing
my teeth and getting ready to head off to work on Friday
morning when I heard my wife ask me the magical question I had
been hoping for:
"Do you want to go away this weekend?" No sooner had I said
yes then I was down in the garage throwing my gear into the
car and speeding off to work. The boss agreed to cut me loose early and
I quickly took him up on his kind offer.
And so it was that I found
myself waking up somewhere along the North Fork of Bishop
Creek, high in California's incomparable Sierra Nevada.
This place was the perfect antidote to clear the cobwebs out
of my head from the last few weeks. Since mid-February, things
in my life have been pretty hectic - had a new baby girl, sold
our company, got sent to Malaysia - just to name a few. So
what I really needed was to go for a nice solitary ski tour.
After consulting my mental list of impromptu two
ski tours, I had settled on a quick loop trip through the
northern part of the Evolution Group.
I had reached the trailhead late
after the always long drive from home. In the waning daylight
I quickly lashed the skis to the pack and headed for Piute Pass. A dusty one mile walk from the
overnight parking lot gets you to the actual trailhead, where
the snowline still seemed light years away (photo).
I hiked up a well-maintained trail beneath the colorful Piute Crags until both the daylight and my energy faded.
I pushed myself a little bit further by headlamp and then dropped my pack behind a huge boulder near
serene Loch Leven.
No tent was necessary; I just unfolded my sleeping bag on the
granite and passed out.