Portneuf Yurt and full moon.

Ski Camping:
McNabb Ridge & Inman Yurt
March 11 through 13, 1994
by Rob Jones

Links to another yurt report:
Yurting in the Wasatch Mountains (2005)

This is a trip report about a ski camping trip in the Portneuf Yurt system near Pocatello, Idaho. Regrettably, this was a solo trip; some canceled because of finals, some because of the mud report and some from child care duties. It's a complicated world and difficult to match priorities with opportunities. Sometimes using a larger hammer works. However, we old guys (sometimes) know that finesse is often more successful. Sometimes, we apply what we know.

Day 1: Late Rider: OK, so I got an alpine start from Smog Lake and arrived at the deserted trail head near dusk. (This was a big contrast to the overpopulated parking lot we encountered during the last trip.) I walked half the way to Inman Yurt on dirt and a little mud, then on skinned-skis on ice and crust, arriving at ye old Inman yurt around 8 p. Yurting is definitely the deluxe way to ski camp. The wind was piercing, but the temp was fairly warm.

Day 2: McNabb Ridge Route (finally): I woke in a melancholy mood - I hadn't planned on doing this trip solo. Longing for great conversation and ivory skin is one thing, then again, there's that ridge route to McNabb Yurt. What to do? Fantasize about alabaster skin while skiing? OK, let's go.

I skin-skied the ridge route to McNabb and back. Skins on the skis and warm enough to occasionally ski in the skin. It was an ice and mush day, and the transitional nature of the snow makes waxing nearly impossible. Hooray for climbing skins. I left at 10:30 a. and I was back in Inman sipping hot cocoa at 6 p. It's quite a distance to McNabb, then back. One bumps along the high points, crosses over the divide of one branch of Webb Creek, then over a large bump W of S Putnam before finally descending toward McNabb.

Dana Olsen was at McNabb. She had just arrived to dig out the yurt and enjoy a solo weekend. She's the only person I saw. The other things I saw were a Brown Creeper and (I believe) a Gyrfalcon (Wow!). The falcon was skulking low along the ridge, knifing through the spotty stands of Subalpine Fir. An amazing feat of flying. Later, I saw this white ghost gently corkscrewing the McNabb Ridge thermals.

My knees are creaking and I'm tired from my McNabb slog. So, I believe I will go to bed early, get up with the sun and go see if I can catch the snow before it turns to mush. Judging from meager snow depth, I may be the last winter traveler. Besides, the fire wood is nearly gone too.

Day 3: Ice Out: I got up fairly early and packed in the deafening silence of early-morning calm in the Portneuf Range. Hum, it makes one pause pensively and think about what's important, what would life be like without all the electronics, all the toys and gadgets, all the time-bound expectations (and hallucinations), all the machinery of life? Well, I'm not giving up my capilene or my light-weight stove! Not my metal-edged skis, no way! The other stuff? Well, that's negotiable.

I skied out to near where the road crosses the S Fork Inman, then walked the rest of the way to the car. My skins had experienced serious abuse yesterday on the ridge and they are nearly worn through where the tail wraps around the elastic skin-holder. I wonder if they can be repaired. There was melting frost on the Subaru window, and it was very quiet in the still-vacant parking lot. I chided myself, noting that I really must come and help Ron Watters and crew erect the yurts next fall.

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