Backcountry Ski Camping Update

by sageandhoney

We ended up only camping for one night. It turns out this was a good thing for the first backcountry camping experience. I learned a lot and feel confident about taking longer trips now. First off, backcountry ski camping is hard, really hard. Especially when a lot of snow has melted and you have to continually take your skis off and rock hop in ski boots while carrying a heavy pack and skis. We took the Cascade trail in around Emerald Bay, thinking it would be a quick couple of miles to Azure Lake. We quickly realized, after crossing sketchy rivers and walking through treacherous terrain, that we were in for a bit of an adventure. But we made it to the lake, and of course it was beautiful and worth it. If there was enough snow on the ground for us to skin in the whole way, the trip would have been about 50 times easier.

We ended up camping at Azure Lake that night and didn’t ski much that day. The snow was unstable and a bit scary, so instead we hiked on the granite rocks and played for the afternoon. That night we watched meteor showers light up the sky. We might have been the only people camped out there watching the sky fall into the earth. It was incredible. The next morning we woke up and as we were stretching and waking up we heard the sonic boom of the meteorite that apparently hit the earth in South Lake. It sounded like we were getting bombed and the whole valley shook. That day we did a small hike by Azure and scoped out Dick’s peak and all of the other mountains we want to hike. We met a crew of three men who were probably in their 50’s, doing a tour from Emerald to Echo (our original plan). They said they’ve been camping and hiking back there together since they were in high school. They are my role models. We had an awesome run down the mountain and the snow was a little more stable during the morning.

We hiked out over Maggies, and, for the most part, there was enough snow to skin out. But once we were on the other side skiing down toward Emerald Bay there were definitely bare spots and the snow was also sliding.

Anyway, the point of all this is to remind me where I went and what I brought so I have a list for next time. I took out a bit of clothing before the trip, and it was so warm we could have left behind more. I ended up skiing and hiking in my sports bra and spandex shorts, it was SO hot. I definitely didn’t need my snow pants and we could have even left the tent behind.

So the items on my original list are all essential if you are doing winter back country camping. But we did summer back country ski camping, which meant we barely needed warm clothes. As for food, I brought everything from the original list, except for the yams and cheese. For lunch we had crackers with avocado and salami. We also snacked on oranges, trail mix and macaroons. For dinner we ate the mac n cheese and chili con carne. The next morning we ate oranges and yakisoba, which I wouldn’t get again. My favorite freeze dried meal was definitely the mac n cheese. I’m going to master making all of my own meals for the next trip. For lunch and snacks we had the chocolate hazelnut butter on crackers, which was absolutely delicious. We snacked on beef jerky, trail mix and macaroons. After the trip I had plenty of food left over, so I know I packed the right amount for our original trip. We also drank water straight from the snow melt without purifying it. It was a great way to celebrate the end of the season, and a perfect time to camp because no one was out there.

I was really struggling at this point.

Bear tracks.

Skinning across frozen alpine lakes is awesome.