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Rescue Mission

Some readers have inquired as to the fate of poor Nelly. She was abandoned in a remote Alaskan valley, below the road, and braving the fifty year storm. Indeed, a sad and a tragic turn of events for the mighty blue wonder.

After having to leave her overnight, Oskar, Mark, and I rallied in the morning for a rescue mission, and hopefully some more pillows.

At breakfast, Mark and I had placed a bet on how long it would take to get Nelly back onto the road. Mark, drawing from previous Powder Road disasters, had wagered it to be an all day affair. I had already communed with Nelly and knew her climbing ability in powder, and bet no more than three tries to hit the road.

After seeing quite a bit of traffic, the long road we had travelled to Flower Mountain was deeply rutted. I alternated harsh doubles with Mark and Oskar, and within an hour we were up on the sunshine loop looking down at poor Nelly. About 150 meters from us, she was sitting peacefully under a blanket of 8 inches of new snow- her headlights pointing wistfully up at the road.

The bet was on. I started digging out Nelly as Oskar and Mark began grooming a road up the steep embankment that separated Nelly from shipwreck and a blissful reunion with her fellow sleds.

If ski photography and book publishing don't work out for Oskar and Mark, the Army Corps of Engineers will be calling for their services on public works projects. They sculpted a beautifully designed ramp for Nelly, and with one turn flip of the throttle, she was safely back on the road and ready to swim with the others on the search for storm pillows. All in all, a twenty minute project.

One for the good guys!

Conveniently, right above the Nelly rescue venue sat another pillow stairway. This one was particularly enchanting because it was completely canopied by trees- giving the line a really intimate fairytale type of w(v)ibe.

While bootpacking in the forest, the heavy snow-laden branches were constantly releasing their weight. One step after another, the quick breath of climbing mixed with muffled thuds of tree snow hitting the forest floor. I closed my eyes and just listened.

Atop the line after a twenty minute bootpack, I looked towards the sky, and all I could see was snow and mist hanging in the air. In the haze above loomed the dense canopy of interlaced pines.

With fog-free goggles, I dropped in. The first few were uphill pillows and not too smooth, but the lower section flowed nicely. When i got to the bottom, I was in pillow mode and in a pillow state of mind. I just wanted more and more pillows. Viva las Almohadas!