Cross­ing the ho­mathko

Adventure - - Contents -

With Ar­ran White­ford

Leav­ing the road, we were bub­bling with stoke, re­gard­less of how heavy our packs were or how bland the trail. Months of plan­ning, or­gan­is­ing rides, food drops and mak­ing DIY gear, our ad­ven­ture was now H-A-P-P-E-N-I-N-G. Hours af­ter, we re­alise that we've prob­a­bly missed the cru­cial turnoff, and we didn't re­ally get around to sort­ing the route for this 21-day trip. Shoul­ders groan in protest. Leav­ing a hunt­ing lodge were told: "When you see three blazes near to a huge fir tree, turn left onto a smaller trail.” Which would be wise words, but we’d seen about 10 triple blazed mark­ings and the for­est was full of big firs. Get­ting to the snow is al­ways the worst part of a ski trip – as our leaden skis at­tached high on our packs caught on over­head branches we stopped to un­tan­gle each other. I closed my eyes, slowly ex­haled and imag­ined the glo­ri­ous snow ahead, the smooth slide of skins on spring snow crust. Soon. We hopped over dry­ish patches in a smelly wet swamp for a sec­ond time, climb­ing back up the hill. Tot­ter­ing over fallen trees, rigid ski boots and tall packs tested our bal­ance. Not long af­ter find­ing the right route – with no triple blaze in sight – we dumped our packs on dank dry earth to set­tle down at our first camp and the stoke started smol­der­ing again. Mike was thrilled to build his first bear hang. Dave built a fire. Ridicu­lous amounts of ef­fort went into re­duc­ing our pack weight: we’ve con­verted our ice axes to dou­ble as shovel han­dles, the four guys are sleep­ing in a three­man tent, one in the vestibule, and our menu is metic­u­lously planned to have an uber high calo­rie-to-weight ra­tio. As a re­sult, I’m at least dis­ap­pointed to find I’ve ac­ci­den­tally packed 18 ex­tra tent pegs hid­den in the tent pocket. Hud­dled around the cosy fire we agreed we’d gone slightly over­board cut­ting weight–we’d got no whiskey for the en­tire first week. By the third day, we're fi­nally high enough to prop­erly ski. The Stike­line river we fol­low is mostly frozen over with snow –It is a high­way, an au­to­bahn, a yel­low brick road lead­ing through the dense for­est up to the moun­tains. Our skins glide swiftly, heav­enly on the hard morn­ing snow and we make ex­cep­tion­ally good progress. At lunch, sit­ting in front of a mag­nif­i­cent frozen wa­ter­fall, the four guys are blown away by the de­hy­drated hum­mus we have brought. “How much did we bring?” Dave asks. Erm… “3.2 kg of pow­der so that makes umm….” Joane cal­cu­lates. “10 1/4 kg of hum­mus.” For­tu­nately, it’s su­per scrump­tious.

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