There was a fair amount of swearing under my breath on the way to the Tenquille cabin last weekend. The snow started on the Tenquille Creek branch approaching from the Birkenhead side. Not enough snow that we couldn't drive the road, but not enough to ski in the forest. We carried our skis for 1 or 2 km. After putting on our skis we quickly lost the hiking trail and followed a boot-pack onto a terrible tightly treed side hill with lots of logs and a snow cover too deep for walking and too shallow for skiing. This was the point were Christian and I started wondering if we might have gotten ourselves in over our heads. This feeling was reinforced when a toddler pee break was needed in the slushy rain. Luckily F seemed unfazed by the situation and kept telling Christian that he should be a sparrow and fly through the bush. We decide to lose some elevation and cross the river in hope of mellower terrain and easier skiing. The skiing did become slightly easier, but by no stretch of imagination was it good. Our packs were pretty heavy too - around 60 kg total, but it probably wasn't the best packing we had ever done. Friday evening after returning from work at 5.30pm we managed to make a soup, carve a pumpkin, fix a costume, wax the skis, paint F face as a tiger, pack for the weekend and leave the house at 8pm to go to a halloween party. It was time efficient, but not weight efficient packing. I generally had a pretty bad time getting to the lake, but I kept seeing the deep post-holes in the snow from the previous weekend, and thought that they must have had it quite a lot worse. Around the lake the skiing became nice and pleasant, and we arrived at the hut in the afternoon four hours after leaving the car.
It was still snowing when Ben and Christian headed off for a ski on the slopes just South of the hut towards Fossil pass. They skied three runs while Meredith, F and I got set up, played and cooked dinner. The hut is really nice and we managed to gather up enough firewood for a small fire. There was only one other party in the hut, so we had lots of space. The night was mostly uneventful.
In the morning I woke up to a beautiful blue bird sky. Ben and Meredith looked almost ready to head off, so I got myself ready in a hurry and joint them. We skinned to the top of McCloud. The valley was filled with clouds, but the sky above was blue and the mountain views amazing. All my doubts about the trip from the previous day evaporated in the sunshine. The ski down the ridge was a nice dust on crust experience, so we did it twice before skiing all the way back to the cabin.
In the meadows next to cabin, Christian and F were skiing together. F proudly showed me how she can now ski only holding daddy's hands. She even skied a few meters all by herself. Everyone was super stoked!
We had a quick lunch before heading down. The ski down was about as terrible as I had expected and took us about 3 hours. Although we at times thought that the combination of early snow conditions and a toddler was a bit too much, we still ended up with a warm fuzzy feeling once back at the car. The blue bird summit and F's first ski by herself made it all worth it. It was good to be reminded about our limits, though without any actually consequences. It will probably be a little while before we do another overnight ski trip - at least a few weeks.