When we finished crossing the narrow, but long, Valle de Los Posos we entered the gigantic Valle Toledo. More elk were seen huddled on the higher ground of this valley. At night, in this winter landscape, our senses were dialed in. The sound of our skis told us all about the snow conditions — breakable crust, thin powder layers, or ice. Our eyes, now dark adjusted for hours, could see the forms of elk far to the sides of the valleys, and we could smell when one of us pulled out a new cookie.
After about 7 hours of non-stop skiing, we reached the pass between Valle Toldeo and Valle San Antonio. Situated at this pass, where San Antonio Creek meandered next to dense spruce forests, was a picturesque log cabin.
We stopped at this cabin to warm up. Although we had been skiing all night long, we were now only about half-way through our journey. Our clothes were covered in rime ice. Jim’s wool sweater was frozen and stiff as a board. Close to the cabin was a natural hot spring inside a small wooden shelter. We did not utilize the hot springs as that would have stopped our momentum.
After our brief rest at the cabin, we skied the pre-dawn light into the Valle San Antonio. A bright light appeared behind us, way off in the distance. We were convinced this was one of the ranchers coming after us on a snow machine. It is sort of hard to hide when you are skiing untracked snow and being chased by an angry rancher! Thankfully, once we got our wits about us, we realized the bright light was nothing more than a planet rising to the east.