Jan 2, 2010 Whistlin’ Jacks ride report by Fred Wemer
I arrived at Elwood’s at 7:30 AM for an expected time to begin riding of 8 AM to find only a few awake. Breakfast was being cooked, but those awake were looking at the light drizzle outside and contemplating if they wanted to ride. They seemed not persuaded by the fact that it was not raining to the west of the pass and was expected to be good to the east. Several others showed up about 8 AM, sleds were loaded, and those who were willing to brave the weather went to Gardener’s to begin our ride. A little after 9:30, we headed for Whistlin’ Jacks with Lee leading. There were 19 at the start and we picked up 2 more who had parked at Austin’s
There was a light drizzle, but I don’t think I needed to wipe my helmet shield more than a half dozen times all day. By the time we were at the top of the second ridge, the rain and snow had completely stopped. We stayed on the groomed trail that had been recently groomed but had minimal snow depth. At the top of the ridge above Buck Meadows, we left the groomed trail and went cross country taking the cut off to Buck Meadow. After a short stop, we headed for Tripod Meadows via the route where I usually get lost coming through in the dark, but it had been broken through the previous day, and we sailed right through. Going through the trail to the overlook of the Devil’s Slide, we had a problem getting up the long hill; we got the first nine riders up, but by then there was little snow left, and it took a while to get the rest up to the top. In the mean time Mark Berg and I checked out the trail across the open ridge to Bald Mt. and found it well defined and easy. We convinced Lee to go that way. A few of the riders played in the bowls over looking Bald Mt. After getting stuck a couple of times and needing help, we took the trail to the 1702 Road. We attempted a short cut but didn’t get through. The group arrived at Whistlin’ Jacks at 2:15, fueled, had a nice lunch with the appropriate beverage, and were back on the trail at 3:40PM
Given the assignment of getting back to Elwood’s before 8 PM, we went down the long ice shoot just out of W/J’s then via the Milk Pond, tried unsuccessfully to go up the rutted down cut off, made two short dead end wrong turns on the way to the climb at the Devils Slide. We took the alternate route to Tripod and the Beaver Slide back to Buck Meadows. After a short rest, we took the road toward Quartz Mt back to where we turned off in the morning. At Mile Post 6, I took four people willing to take the short cut adventure route while Lee led the rest of the group back to Gardener’s, back tracking our route from the morning.
The cut off at Mile Post 6 had not been traveled, and we had to duck under several trees, but by the time we had traveled about 250 yards, we met up with tracks from a group that had almost climbed up the cut off and gave up, apparently unable to identify the trail. Rebecca’s sled got romantically involved with a tree, and it took several minutes to pull them apart. We followed the trail past the hunter’s cabin then crossed the water cross. We met Bill and his friend at Five Corners. Randy, Dee Ann, and Rebecca followed them to Gardener’s, arriving shortly after Lee’s group. Elwood and I took the freshly groomed trail back to Woods and Steel, under star filled skies, then followed the puddle filled trail to the Big Creek water cross. At times I felt like It might have been easier in a canoe. We arrived back at Elwood’s at 7:30 with 111 miles on Linda‘s Arctic Cat. Those who went to and from Gardeners had from 80 to 90 miles depending on how much they played.
I want to thank Randy for the use of his mittens, and both Randy and Mark for helping me get unstuck and scout the trail, and for just staying close. I also want to thank Linda for loaning me her sled. My fingers did fine but the temperature was never below freezing, and we were able to keep moving so that I kept my central core warm. This is the view as seen from the front of the pack I’m sure it was different from other positions. It was a very enjoyable day topped off with a tasty dinner at the Hunts, even if it was a little late.