TransCanyon Ski Jacob Lake to South Rim - continued
Day Two -- In the morning, concerns over the road are resolved. It has been snowing lightly all night and we can ski right from our doors. We get breakfast and all get started sometime after 8:00. After struggling a bit with ice and snow packed into my boot and ski bindings, this establishes what will prove to be the routine for the rest of the trip: I am the last to get started.
Fortunately, I find I can keep up with the group as long as I keep a focus. There is not much snow on the road, but it's enough to keep us sliding. A small amount of traffic on the road includes Kaibab Lodge staff and a snowplow and grader. After a few hours, Kristen falls behind a bit and Roger and Marshall fall back to assist. The problem seems to be a combination of the telemark skis and pack-on-back. This problem is solved by adding another pack onto Marshalls sled. It seems like forever when we finally get to the end of the plowed road and a nice downhill into the parking area at about 13:00. After a quick gear-check we start onto the snow road. It's really easy because it has just been smoothed and packed.
We may have made it a mile-or-so when a call from the back of the group brings a halt. Marshall has broken one of his new bindings. Roger goes back and applies his repair skills with duct-tape and then we can move on. After another mile or two, we stop for the night at a low spot Marshall calls a "swayle."
Day Three -- To our surprise the snow-van coming in from Jacob Lake with more Lodge skiers arrives before we are packed to go. Since Nancy and Mary are staying at the Lodge the next night, they opt for the privilege to throw their packs in the van. We get started at 9:30 and Nancy and Mary outdistance us quickly.
At the first good downhill, Mike gets into trouble. He loses his hat in the wind, and reaching to catch it (successfully), loses his balance. Down he goes and breaks one of his tow-poles. Since I am putting everything I have into control and steering, there is no way I can stop. At the bottom of the hill I slide to the outside of the curve and land in a drift. Snow is such forgiving stuff. I can just holler ahead to Marshall and let him know about Mikes problem. I go on and tell Roger and Kristen as well. After waiting a little I decide I better move on and make time since I'm the slowest.
I'm also driven by a sense of urgency from the 5PM cutoff for dinner at the Lodge, and so I push relentlessly ahead. At one point we find a sign in the snow along the road that Nancy and Mary are well ahead of us but short of water and other supplies. Kristen has trouble with her pack again. Marshalls other binding breaks and requires repair. Again I move on by myself out of fear. ...Fear to be last and fear to miss dinner tonight. Finally, after many ups and downs, the road splits in two and I stop to wait for the rest of the crew. Mike comes up shortly and confirms the route. There's a long stretch of downhill road to the lodge. At a bend in the road that is out of sight from the lodge, we set up camp next to the road and then go for dinner.
Dinner is truly a luxurious event. Perfectly cooked salmon with dessert included. We bask about the fireplace until the place is nearly closing up, then it's off to our tents and Mary and Nancy to their cabin.