Don’t Go Chasing Waterfalls

August 2019 Feature Dan Gardiner


It’s 9pm and the three of us are walking down the snowmobile trail in full snowmobile gear. The stars are out and the half-moon illuminates the snow. The sound of the river tumbling over rocks below is almost hypnotic. Across the river a pack of coyotes sings. A serene picture really…until you retrace our footsteps 3 miles back up the canyon to where our sleds will spend the night perched atop a 60ft waterfall. 

This past February I went for a memorable ride with Ryan Nelson and Zak Collings. After a week of sun and the first real thaw of the winter, the snow conditions were not particularly good that weekend. Many of our riding buddies had opted to take the day off to catch up on domestic duties that had been neglected during the prior month of seemingly nonstop deep powder riding. We decided that our aim for the weekend should be to explore new country. The early part of this season featured some of the best low and mid elevation snowfall since 2010, opening up many new options for terrain and route choices that have been on our waiting list for several years.  

The day generally went as planned. We discovered several new riding areas that warranted future attention and even found some unexpected caches of powder. 

Sometime in the late afternoon we stopped on a ridge at 10,000 feet to take stock and assess our last moves of the day. At this point, all hands were tired from a long day of hard riding. Each of us had a little over a quarter-tank of fuel. 

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