I heard rumors that Darby Canyon was in pretty good shape, so Kodi and I headed out early Saturday morning to find out. The road to the trail head is in great shape, easily drivable with 4 wheel drive. The temperature at the trailhead was -1F. I must admit, my enthusiasm was pretty low when I got out and my fingers immediately went numb. But then Kodi whet running down the trail and his impatient howls got me motivated to get the skins on and get moving.
The trail up to Wind Cave is packed and well traveled, easily hikeable in boots. It was great for skinning, but there isn’t much snow and lots of exposed rocks promised a rough ride down. Unfortunately, about 100 yards from the trailhead, I must have smacked a rock with my ski and the wire on my skin tip broke. Crap. No problem, I’ll just slap some duct tape on there and continue. So I reached in my pack get the tape and discovered I’d forgotten it. Double crap. I thought my day was over at this point. But then I found a strap that worked great, probably better than tape. Anyway, I got underway again in a few minutes. Darby Dagger looked fat from a distance. I was going to take a photo on the way down, but forgot.
After the trail cut of towards Wind Cave, there is a good skin track that runs all the way to the head of the canyon.
Kodi was smart enough to take his lunch break in the sunshine. I wasn’t so smart and paid the price with numb fingers.
Higher up the canyon the weather got warmer and with calm winds it actually made for a nice day. The snow was firm, and the skinning was good in the old skin track.
Probably better than duct tape
The snow on the ski down was OK. Not great, the snow up there is getting old and wind hammered. A few deep powder pockets could be found if you kept your eyes open. Kodi struggled coming down, he kept breaking through and it took us quite a while to get back to the packed trail. Poor pup, he was really beat. After getting back to the trail, I put the skins back on and “jake braked” back to the trail head.
Kodi doing his 100th face plant on the ride down.