What a difference a day makes. Last nights warming trend kept up and this morning temp was up around freezing and the car was wet rather than snow covered. Yesterday marked the furthest point north for this trip and the original plan for the first stage of heading back toward Tahoe was a days drive via Lolo Pass with a stop for a bit of XC. However temps looking marginal at Lolo and it’s still dumping at Lookout and Silver Mountain ( a bit further along I-90 from Lookout) so it was back onto the interstate. Rather than being snow covered the left lane now had mounds of slushy ice which once again was quite treacherous to cross or drive through – which may have had something to do with the truck that had jacknifed about 30km out of Missoula. Was actually raining down in the valleys but slowly turned to snow on the climb up to the pass but temp was hanging in around freezing. Last 10km or so ended up being very slow as I was not prepared to chance the ordinary condition of the left lane so kept with the trucks and other nervous car drivers as speed slowed and slowed until we were crawling by the time I turned off at the pass.
Absolutely bucketing down at Lookout. Had started a little late as the early morning road reports had not been encouraging and was only planning a couple of hours here – but at $32 for a day you really don’t have to worry about justifying the cost. No problems here about hitting firm underneath the fresh – you would have had to dig down a LONG way to find it. It was deep but it was also heavy – more like powder in Oz then US. Did one VERY short foray into the trees and decided that in snow like this you just have to accept some speed to get anywhere – a concept I often struggle with – and if I’m doing that I’m doing it out in the open not in the trees. So as long as you could keep moving it was lots of fun. If you got into areas that weren’t steep enough to keep some speed up you just ended up sinking into it . All over the front open slope parents were extracting small children from holes that they would literally disappear into when they fell. They had to bring the groomers out in the middle of the day to groom some new pistes just so those who weren’t coping could get down the hill.
After 3 runs I was getting close to saturated so inside for some food and dryness then back out and onto the front lift. Looking over my shoulder on the way up saw a LONG line of trucks stationary on the Interstate – it was closed! Maybe I should have kept going on to Silver Mtn this morning. Oh well, will just have to keep skiing. By next run traffic had started to crawl and after one more it was actually moving so I was out of there. Thankfully very little traffic coming through from Missoula – not sure if there were crashes, chain controls or what – but not a bad trip down. SNow turned back to sleet near Wallace and from there we had what they refer to as a ‘winter mix’ from there on. Had decided on the slightly longer route via US95 as there were no issues showing on the roads website this morning but of course as soon as I started climbing south was once again back into snow and a completely snow covered left lane.
But from there conditions slowly improved and by half way to Lewiston temp had climbed into the positives for the first time in ages, it stopped precipitating and even broke out of the cloud. Dropped down to just 300m at Lewiston then a steady climb back out onto the plains and was into Grangeville about 8. Another pretty major drive but it leaves me less than 2 hours from Brundage for tomorrow morning