After a couple days of heavy snowfall in the mountains, eighteen excited adventurers headed out to Elfin Lakes on November 19 for an overnight telemark trip up to the ski hut and back. Our morning started early and a little chaotically, with some instances of car trouble and a very icy road leading up to the trail head, but our challenges were soon allayed by some very helpful people on the way up who had four-wheel drive and kind hearts. After tossing most of our gear and ourselves in the back of a generous man’s pickup truck, we made our (bumpy!) way up to the trail and got started.
Saturday was enough to charm even the most inexperienced of beginners (like me): the sky was absolutely cloudless and the snow clung to the alpine trees like something out of a fairy tale. We took a leisurely pace up the trail, chatting with a few passersby coming back down and stopping to admire the incredible views when we hit open portions of the trail. The mountains seemed to be welcoming their visitors that afternoon, with mild temperatures and sights that could only be described as breathtaking. Midway through the afternoon everyone caught up with each other at the Red Heather day hut, where we were happy to discover the wood stove up and running, ready to warm up our chilly hands. After consuming our requisite Ritter Sport bars, we were back on our way up the steeper portion of the ridge towards Elfin Lakes.
Our party segmented off into groups with different paces, and there was some interpretive creativity as we all attempted to find the trail markers and stay on the beaten path. A few different tracks were taken to reach the hut, and a small group of us were given the unique advantage of a clear sky as we took the last couple of kilometers after dark- everyone agreed that skiing and stargazing made for an incredible combination. Eventually, the whole lot of us reached the Elfin hut, which was remarked on all night for its total decadence: roomy, warm, and equipped with lots of cooking space, everyone was full of dinner and cozy in no time. An intense game of Settlers of Catan and lots of hot chocolate closed out our first day.
The trip back down on Sunday was happily welcomed by those of us whose muscles weren’t quite used to the uphill grind of Saturday, and everyone was back down to Red Heather by early afternoon. A group of more experienced telemark skiers stayed at the meadows during the afternoon to delight in the new powder, while some of us made our careful way back down the path and learned just exactly what the challenges of telemarking entail. There were plenty of bails, but they weren’t without laughs and company. At the trail head, we employed our hitchhiking abilities one more time to get everyone and their gear back to our cars. A very happy and sleepy group headed back into the city, grateful for having decided to head out on a weekend that couldn’t have been better for snow, sun, and adventures in the mountains.