2010-12-18 50 -119
West of Monte Lake
Drive up Monte Creek Forest Service Road as far as safely possible, then hike up the hill to the coordinates.
Monte Creek FSR was snow-covered and plowed, but Monte Hills FSR was not plowed, so I parked at the fork. I walked up the road with a backpack, boots, and gaiters. I had not seen anyone on either FSR, so when I thought I saw smoke up ahead, I thought I must be mistaken. Sure enough, there was a truck, two men, and a dog around a campfire in the snow.
They were probably more surprised to see me than I was to see them. They explained they had stopped for hot dogs while finding a Christmas tree, and asked if I was on a hike. I said yes, happy to leave it at that. Then they asked if I had been here before, and when I said no, it seemed to require further explanation. After 36 expeditions, this was actually my first solo encounter like this. I simply said it was part of a game, and a reason to explore new areas. They seemed content with that, and I continued on.
I knew the hike was only 1-2km with a "moderate" 200m ascent, but the combination of knee-deep snow and my lack of activity left me unsure if I would even make it before dark. It took me 1.5 hours, at which point dusk was starting to set. The decent was actually fun, with the snow buffering my movement, I could lazily stride downwards. This took only half an hour, and with the sub-zero weather and gaiters, I was completely dry.