Backcountry Snowmachining Adventure/X-Games

Backcountry snowmachining.

Fluffy powder snow, large arching turns and goggle tans - all words that I thought described it. From what I saw in pictures of my family and friends doing it, this is exactly what describes those pictures. So when I got invited to go on a backcountry snowmachining trip with my stepdad, I jumped at the opportunity. Well, it was quite the adventure.

He decided to take me to Spencer Glacier near Portage, Alaska. The pullout where we would start our adventure was only an hour south of Girdwood, where we lived at the time. I had been to Spencer Glacier once and it was so beautiful. But:

1. I didn't get to drive the snow machine and
2. I was younger and scared to do anything too crazy on the back of my mother's snowmachine.

Younger me and my sister at Spencer Glacier
It's a pretty spectacular glacier!
So, I was really excited to go out on my own (borrowed) snowmachine and turn up the powder!

But, we didn't take into consideration how warm it had been the past week or how little snow the area got over the whole winter. This led to a rude awakening on my part once we got to our first river crossing...yeah, the river was not covered with ice and snow like we thought.

But hey, snowmachines can make it across lakes if you give them enough gas....



When we got there I immediately put on the brake and asked if there was another way around. My stepdad proceeded to say, "Nah, you got this. Just give the throttle all you've got and don't let up." He went across and made it no problem. I listened to his advice, punched the throttle and according to him the sled went vertical as I was crossing and it looked like I was trying to show off! I literally just punched the gas and didn't let go until I got across. I was so scared of going in the water! Later he told me it was only knee deep...

We basically got lost on our way to the glacier. He was trying to find the non-existent powder. I got stuck a couple of times and I couldn't tell you how many times we had to turn around. This trip was becoming a failure and very boring, until...

We finally reached a spot where there was no choice but to cross a deep small river down an embankment with a sharp incline on the other side like this:


I was skeptical that the ice would hold a snowmachine so, to be safe, my stepdad suggested we hold down the throttle again so we could cross the ice on the river quickly. He let me go first and gave me specific instructions to decrease throttle pressure once I got over the water.

So I gunned it, full throttle... I got over the ice but I forgot to let go of the throttle and went up the other side, full speed. My stepdad said I caught so much air that it looked like something out of the X-Games. My legs came off the machine and went to the side. For me it all happened in slow motion...I was in the air, still holding down on the throttle. I came down after what seemed like forever. My head banged into the dashboard, but I was still on the machine. I finally let go of the throttle and just slumped off the side of the snowmachine and laid on the ground. I was kinda dazed but all I could hear was my stepdad laughing and yelling that he wished he had a camera from the other side.

Lucky thing I was wearing a helmet.

After I mustered up the courage to get back on the sled, we found the glacier and chilled in the sun for quite a while then headed home, avoiding the X-Games ramp of death.

When I got back to the truck I took off my helmet and looked in the mirror, a black-eye had formed because of my goggles being slammed into my face when I hit the dashboard. Ouch. At least I had something to tell a story about... James was so upset that he didn't bring his Go-Pro, but I was just relieved that I didn't get hurt.

I am now called lead-thumb whenever I am near a snowmachine....

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