Garrett Russell Chases Winter

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House Team Rider Refuses to Give Up on The Season, His Body Has Other Ideas


Well this time, I’d say I lost some. I lost a little weight, a couple days of what looked like beautiful Tahoe California Spring-time joy, and I lost the game of going out and crushing it. Luckily it wasn’t just me that lost.

The last couple years I’ve wanted to check out the Desolation Wilderness to ski and possibly fish for a couple days. Well now I know that idea is a little more far fetched then I hoped for.

It started off as an average day in the life of little ol’ me, Garrett Russell. I went skiing at Squaw, had a fun day riding park and slashing around before I went to work at 5pm. Nothing out of the ordinary, except by the time I made it to to work I could feel my chest getting tight and had a feeling that I might be getting sick, but I don’t get sick…I only use “sick” as an adjective or something like that. Either way, half way through work my manager invites me to go camping with him and a buddy Zack into Desolation for two nights the next day. Of course I say yes.  I was even supposed to tend the outside bar the next day- “Oh don’t worry about that.” Jason says. Having the power to, he got me out of work the next day when all I should have done was stayed in bed and avoided getting sick.

Oh well. Somehow that next day I feel alive but not worse or bad enough to turn down an adventure. I’m not sure if there was guilt since I should have had to work or what I was thinking but next thing I know…I’m packed, they’re at my house to pick me up, and we are at the trailhead.

Having been in the exact zone the week before with a lot more snow I thought I knew what I was getting into… I lead us into the manzanita jungle right off the bat. It was actually kind of funny but after a couple stream crossings, little saplings, bushes galore, we failed to really even make it to the snow. I kind of regretted going the second I lifted my heavy ass pack. I used my communication skills and expressed my thought of turning back before we crossed another stream. Since communication in the backcountry is key, we talked a little and I pushed on. We set up camp just shortly after that.

Depending on how I felt the next day I’d go back or I’d stay. I stayed of course, not feeling much worse but now I know I’ve caught something. We push up and up into the hills of false summits, more streams and shitty ass bushes. We even got to a point where we think we totally failed and should turn back but we went ahead to go on up this little ribbon of snow on the south west face that would surely turn to mush and make our descent more interesting but it was the only way to get us to the ridge. From there we were able to continue further and deeper into my energy reserve.  Well at least we all got to use our skins that we carried all this way…

All in all, we skied some corn, I mostly traversed back to our point of return on the ridge with every turn making my body ache but better than expected for snow quality. The others got some extra turns in and hiked back up to where I sat. We made it back to camp, I went to bed. The others were lucky enough to see the lunar eclipse, I did not. We made our way back with a lot more ease than our way in.

I learned I will never do that again in that condition, the lack of snow, bringing way to0 much shit, and going off into the woods feeling sick. By the time we made it back to the car I sounded like an 80 year old Argentine with no voice. I was bedridden for the next three days before I finally gave up on stubbornness and went to the doctor. Classic bronchitis but much worse than I’ve had it in the past.

The end-

By: Garrett Russell

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