I tried to go backcountry skiing yesterday. In North Carolina.
It had snowed 3 days earlier with a savage (for the South) cold snap on the tail end of the snow dump. Between scheduling shenanigans and life, a few days went by before Steve and I were able to get out to chase some snow.
The grass was starting to poke thru the melting snow in my backyard when I left town, thinking we’d find more snow once we got up into the High Country. We drove all over the mountains looking for enough snow to warrant strapping the skis on. By the time it was said and done, we had bushwhack-ski-hiked about 75 yards on short backcountry skis before coming to our senses and accepting the reality that we had missed our window. There just wasn’t enough snow.
We saw a big waterfall, looked at some creeks we hadn’t checked out before, and enjoyed a rugged grade IV bushwhack after we settled on hiking in an unexplored — and comically free from snow — area.
It was a good day.
My track record catching snow and ice living in a temperate rainforest in the South is good enough, but it isn’t great.
Probably about half the time I set out to get in a day of ice climbing or snow exploration, I get ‘skunked.’
The truth is, regardless if we the find snow or ice we’re looking for, I always have find a way to enjoy the day outside.
Sure, yesterday I could have gone to a ski resort or I spent my day paddling. And those would have been fine, fairly predictable days, doing more or less what I planned, doing things that I love.
Given the options, I’ll take The Unknown.
I’ll pass up known outcomes for exploring new areas and hunting adventure with a good friend. For the chance to point a pickup truck loaded with gear roughly North into higher elevations, hoping for good luck and decent conditions. For the folly of hoping to catch climbable ice or skiable natural snow in a climate where such activities are borderline ridiculous.
I’m happy for the Experience. I’m happy for the Adventure. I’m happy we got skunked.
Without hesitation, I’d make the same call again.