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January 10, 2013
Early Snow Beats All Of Last Year’s Snow
First Ride? I’m still recovering from the last ride of the season.
It was May 10, Wyoming. The snow had receded quite a bit from the ride the week previous. In fact, we couldn’t unload at the same spot near an opening in the woods big enough to turn a trailer around. So when I arrived at that location where I was supposed to meet up with Bret Rasmussen and a couple other guys, I figured I was early since Bret’s truck and 38-foot trailer weren’t there. But he was actually parked a mile further up the muddy, narrow dirt road. I assumed there was a place to turn around, so I trucked on up the road. Bret had actually backed his trailer up there from the spot I was waiting for him at. Maybe the guy should teach clinics on backing up trailers…
Once we were on the snow, I might have gotten a little anxious to see what Bret’s customized M 800 I was riding could do in the trees. I cruised around a few corners of the road as we gained some elevation and then turned it up a drainage. Things were going fine until the snow disappeared. I mentioned this was mid-May, right? The ridge I was on was covered only in the remnants of the winter’s snowpack, where there’s long snow banks in the shade and dry dirt in the sun.
Well, we hit the sun in a patch of willows. Bret followed, as did the other guys in the group. They dropped back down to find the trail—which we probably should have stayed on for a few minutes longer to actually get on top of the mountains where the real snow was. I worked through the weeds and branches and willow bushes and kept trying to sidehill and work my way across a few ridges to connect to the trial higher up.
But the ratio of snow-to-dirt was getting on the low side. I got stuck in 10 inches of snow because the carbides got hung up on a rock as the track spun on a wet log. Not exactly busting through powder and carving tight sidehill lines here. We regrouped on the trail eventually and worked our way to higher elevation. Again, the snow depth had decreased significantly in the week between this ride and the previous one in the same spot. The temp was in the 60s, so no surprise. But looking for good snow at 8,500 feet on a warm spring day of a horrible snow year is no easy task. We climbed up hills you hope you’d never have to come back down, found traction on rocks, sagebrush and dirt mounds, sidehilled over wet leaves and snow that looked like it came out of a machine inside a convenience store.
You know how it snowed about 10 inches in the mountains early in October? Well, it would have been a better ride to spend a day going cross-country on that snow.
There’s not much of a standard left for how little snow we’ll accept to ride on, is there?
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