A ski trip to Pear Lake Hut is always very attractive. There is usually plenty of snow, wide open ski slopes, a warm hut and the people are fun. So we did it again on a 3-day weekend in February, courtesy of the Presidents. Greg and I were the "officials" and the "inofficials" were Reed Moore, Lisa Freundlich, Ruth von Rotz, Steve Hessen and Mike Rector. No storm was in the weather forecast.
On Friday afternoon we drove up to the Lodgepole Visitors Center where we picked up our permit and hut key and spent the night in the camping area, i.e. parking lot.
Sat morning we drove up to Wolverton to the Pear Lake trailhead. We ascended through the forest to the junction between the trails to Heather and Panther Gaps, then switch-backed up the open slopes and followed the ridge trail to Heather Gap or The Hump.
It was time for a break. The views were nice and we could see the slopes leading in the direction we would have to ski to the hut. The descent from the Hump is always a test for backcountry skiing with a full pack. But the steep section is short and the subsequent slopes are easy downhill cruising. The scenery near Aster and Heather Lakes is very pretty.
Since it was stable weather we took the shorter high route to the hut. We arrived in the late afternoon and settled down, making fire and cooking dinner.
On Sunday we made a tour to the Tablelands. As we ascended out of the valley we had a splendid view of the Sierra Crest to the east. At some high point we found a dry rock and settled down for lunch. It could not have been a better place and view.
But clouds were forming and it did not take long that the sky looked threatening. It was time to return or we might be caught in a whiteout and snowstorm. But it never materialized. On the way back we enjoyed making nice turns on the slopes above the hut.
Monday morning the sky was clear and the snow was glistening in the sun. We regretted that we had to leave. We skied again along the high trail, past the snow-covered lakes and up to the Hump where we rested.
Skiing down to the cars was fun, except on the open slopes above the Panther Gap trail. It was covered with classic breakable crust, which Mike handled with a straight-line descent, skis in hands. Back at the cars we all had the feeling of having had another fine trip to the Pear Lake Hut.
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