We walked with our skis over to the gate and signed in. Trucks were out plowing driveways and streets and so we had to dodge a couple on our walk in. We donned our skis at the gate and commenced the 5km ski up to Ausable Lake. Only one snowshoe track was fresh in the snow and it was easily avoided. Past snowmobile tracks had compressed the snow making for an easy approach to the lake.
Arriving at the lake we stashed our skis beside the hut and transitioned into snowshoes. We were hoping for a broken trail across the bridge. After taking in the views of Ausable lake and the blue skies that served as the backdrop we scampered past the turn off for Rainbow Falls. On the trail, we noticed it had been broken out but the last snowshoe track was from over a week ago and the trail was lumpy in places. Not ideal, but better than nothing.
Heading up Sawteeth from the junction, there was a thin layer of ice on the trees coated with a snow icing. Lucking out the steepest sections were completely snow covered and snowshoes could be used to pass through them. The wind had filled in any semblance of a track on these exposed areas so we had to pay attention to the keep on the trail.
At the top, we found a couple of possible summit areas but couldn’t find the actual marker. Most likely buried or blown off, we checked our GPS and knew we were at the highest point we could be. The bluebird day made for fabulous views of the Great Range and the sun had started to warm up the morning’s air. It took us 4 hours to get to the summit.
After a short photo session, we headed back down to the junction for a sheltered lunch/snack break. In no time we were back at the bridge below which had turned into a warm amphitheatre of solar radiation. We couldn’t resist the temptation of having another rest here and snack break before we returned to the skis.
The ski out took 30 mins. We flew down the Lake Road and were reminded of why winter hiking is so awesome with the ability to cut time on skis. We signed out and hiked out to the parking lot, in the warm almost spring like air.
Time: 7 hours
Ascent: 3100 feet