Badger Pass to Dewey Point Feb. 20-21, 2016 | High Sierra Topix  

Badger Pass to Dewey Point Feb. 20-21, 2016

Discussion about winter adventure sports in the Sierra Nevada mountains including but not limited to; winter backpacking and camping, mountaineering, downhill and cross-country skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, etc.
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Badger Pass to Dewey Point Feb. 20-21, 2016

Postby Shhsgirl » Sat Feb 27, 2016 6:59 am

A friend of mine is a deputy sheriff, and she has other friends...About ten to fifteen (I never counted) guys, some peace officers, some firefighters, some veterinarians, others from all walks of life, do an annual snow campout at Dewey Point. This year we got to go along. Feb. 20-21 was chosen because the nearly full moon rose just at sunset, and it happened to be the right time for the Horsetail Falls "natural firefall." These guys are strong, and they don't go light. Most carried full packs, and hauled gear sleds. They brought chairs, a metal camp table with attached bench seats, a Webber grill with briquettes and Presto logs for the campfire, heavy, real food (no dehydrated meals) pots, pans--basically all the stuff a mule team would bring, except they were the mules.
Pack and pulk.
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My husband and I hauled ski pulks, NOT heavily loaded, and made a DIY one for one of our daughters, who did haul a heavy load.
Heavy pulk.
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We started out early, picked up Dep in Tracy, and met a couple of the guys in Oakdale for breakfast. We got to Badger pass at around the appointed 10:00 a.m. meet time, and everybody was there waiting for us. We got permits, carried our sleds and packs across the parking lot, and set off with the other hordes who were out on a nice day skiing and snowshoeing. One of the guys commented that I travel light when he lifted my sled. When I saw his, I understood.
Not a great photo, but you can see how pulk attaches to hip belt.
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This was a shakeout trip for husband and me, a learning experience to test gear and find out what worked and what didn't. We stopped frequently for gear adjustments, putting on and taking off snowshoes, adjusting methods of water bottle carrying, adjusting clothes, compensating for steep (but thankfully short) and traversing grades with the pulks, etc., and finally arrived at Dewey Point, dead last. We set up our two person four season tent, promptly named the "Taj Mahal" by the other guys, and ran out to the point at 4:30 to start watching Horsetail Falls.
Setting up tent.
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Other people were out there,
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tripods were set up, flasks were passed around, and the sun looked good for a sunset.
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At the last moment, after having waited for over an hour, the clouds obscured the whole thing. Oh well. It was still fun.
Still pretty, even without sun.
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Being alcohol stove fanatics in three seasons, we had our first experience with a Whisperlite. I had lit it once before at home, just like I'd set up our tent once before at home, but that was it. We were both out of water, and thirsty, so we filled our 2 L pot with snow, and tried to prime the stove, in the dark. Husband's headlight had been turned on mistakenly in his sled, and it was dead, so mine was the only one. By the light of the moon, and my weak little headlamp, nothing came out of the fuel line. I fooled and fiddled and fiddled and fooled, and finally got it lit, whereupon we promptly scalded our new 2L pot, by putting it on top of the flame with nothing but snow in it. Another shakeout. Always save out a little water to put in bottom of your snow pot, so you don't ruin it.

Dehydrated dinners were finally had, as we smelled the sausage and onions wafting over from the vicinity of the Webber. We both threw away quite a bit of our dinners, and instead grabbed the flask of 23- year- old single malt and the trail mix I had brought, and headed over to the campfire to share and share alike.

By and by I stepped backward from the campfire in the dark, and fell into a tree hole, from which I had to be extricated. This was purely an error of perception, because I had only a sip of the single malt and none of the other beverages that were going around. I was completely uninjured, which was lucky, considering what could have happened. Another shakeout. Don't step backwards, especially in the dark, unless you look first.

We went to bed soon after I was dug out of the snow. I had shoveled out part of the vestibule of our tent, which made it easier to take off our boots and outer shells and store them. We went to bed and were both very warm all night, although the guys in the snow caves, I later heard, froze.
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In the morning I awoke to the sight of a large raven who had uncovered our thrown-away dinners of the night before and was enjoying an unexpected breakfast. He looked at me so intelligently I almost expected him to ask if I cared for a hand of bridge, except I don't play. We ate breakfast, which we were hungry for this time, and started to take down the tent, when whadyaknow! Another shakeout. I had staked and guyed it out deadman style and the snow stakes, along with their lines, were frozen solid under varying depths of snow and ice. There was nothing to do but chip away at the snow and ice with my shovel, which I did, at some great effort, since there were 12 of them. If anyone knows how to avoid this situation, yet still be able to stake out the tent deadman style, I'd appreciate hearing about it. Maybe use sticks and wrap, rather than tie, the line around them?

The stakes eventually came out and we took off, again last, on our sled pull back to Badger Pass ski area. The way seemed so much shorter this time. The weather was sunny, windless, and warm. Guys were skiing shirtless, and girls were in shorts. It occurred to me that snow camping in California can be quite a bit like going to the beach. We simply don't have, by and large, the extremely cold temps of the Rockies or the East, which eliminates a huge hurdle, at least in my mind. It seemed to me, as I thought about it, that I had experienced just about as much cold and warmth snow camping as I had surfing in Santa Cruz or Humboldt County. I'm sure there are the exceptional nights when it might get into the low digits, but they are not the norm.

This trip lived up to its billing--we were good and shook out by the time we got home.

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Re: Badger Pass to Dewey Point Feb. 20-21, 2016

Postby Shhsgirl » Sat Feb 27, 2016 7:04 am

Oops! This is the correct last photo.
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Re: Badger Pass to Dewey Point Feb. 20-21, 2016

Postby balance » Sun Feb 28, 2016 12:43 pm

Greetings Shhsgirl

Thanks for the trip report. That looks like a lot of fun! Nice pulk setup. Got the stabilizer bars and everything.

Glad you had such nice weather conditions. Really can't expect the weather in February to be that cooperative all the time.

Good thing your camping group didn't get lost. You couldn't call for SAR. Looks like they were all out there with you. :)
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