After a reconnaissance mission on Friday to study the terrain, route, accessibility and conditions, I rallied three friends to wake up extra-early and catch the lunar eclipse from a mountain-top. Full moon skis are a favorite pastime, so the combination of full moon and lunar eclipse sounded too good to pass up. Fortunately for this particular adventure our winter is off to a slow start this year, and we were able to drive my roommate’s lifted Chevy only 20-minutes walking distance from the trailhead.
Hiking uphill with no assistance besides the light of the moon was pleasantly invigorating. The skin-track was firm (even slick at times) so the two of us sporting snowshoes didn’t feel bad about destroying the path for others – I even had a short conversation with a skier who agreed that a little bit of rough churning is a relief on an otherwise slippery slope. Within a half hour after leaving the truck the lunar eclipse began, and as we ascended the mountain our light source retreated behind Earth’s shadow. Our expectation was of the opposite: a super-sized moon that would light up the countryside with a radiant, red-amber glow. This was not the case. In Shanghai we may have witnessed an orange illumination, but our location in the Western US was shaded by the horizon. Actually, the sunrise dominated the skyline in our 360-degree view from the top, and the moon soon took backseat to the pinks, oranges, reds, blues and purples.
There were six other skiers (and four paws) at the summit when we arrived, wrapped in warm sleeping bags and speaking softly amongst themselves. Their stove gave off a delicious aroma of backcountry-style Chai Tea. Sarah and Joe (on skis) reached the top first, and were pretty mellow by the time Cody and I came stomping toward the crest, our snowshoes flailing and kicking snow, voices loud and spirits high. To say we disturbed the peace would be an understatement… although the chill ambiance was soon restored as our breath returned and our hype gradually subsided.
I went straight for my water, then hammered into my ham n’ cheese croissant that Joe ever-so-kindly prepped for me the night before. Next I grabbed my tripod and called the gang over for a few quick poses. We got some cool shots with the sunrise as our backdrop, then I turned the camera toward the peaks opposite ours and popped off a really cool panoramic. I could have stayed up there for another half hour with just my camera, but after almost 45 minutes on the summit it was time to head down. The group, myself included, was getting anxious for soft turns. And soft they were, for almost the entire descent. I am not quite as pleased with the morning’s action shots as I am with the shots from the summit (I really want a better telephoto lens), but still managed to get a few decent pictures to depict a solid shred session. Thanks to Sarah, Cody and Joe for getting juiced the night before and committing to an early rise… it was well worth the effort. And thanks to everyone involved in the two-hour process of removing Cody’s truck from the snowbank.
Bonus: the AAA-driver that went un-utilized still may purchase Cody’s big, black bad-hawk.