PEAR LAKE HUT SKI December 30, 1979 to January 1, 1980

Securing a partner from the Peak and Gorge section, we were game for a ski adventure on this holiday weekend. I drove both of us down U.S. 99 to Fresno, CA, and there we motored to Grant Grove to see the sights. I took us along a cutoff road in the foothills to Giant Grove. We had car camped somewhere, and the weather was rainy.

Getting a permit for staying at Pear Lake Hut, we prepared for our ski backpack from Wolverton Ski Bowl parking lot. Following the markers on the trees, we soon gained the high ridge and series of lakes on the way to the hut. The clouds set in, and visibility lowered. I saw a set of tracks that seemed to lead on the route, by which I was following the directions from a ski tour guidebook. The book said to go high, and the tracks went low. We followed them anyway, and I surmised this was wrong, but we had daylight and time.

Then, we began to hear cries of the lost snowshoers. Finding them, we heard from them that they had been out for a few days, and all that they had was wet. I decided to go ahead and find the hut, so I proceeded with instructions to my partner to follow. He did not, so I lost confidence and was unable to find the hut. I skied back to the lost snowshoers and my partner, and it was growing dark. We had a tent, so would be O.K., and then I saw other skiers high above us on their way to the hut. I urged the lost people to put on their backpacks and follow us. Speaking with the other skiers, they knew where the hut was, and so I helped out with heavy packs to get a tired snowshoer to the hut. We thusly all got to the shelter of the hut, and now everyone was accounted for.

New Year's Day dawned, and I went out for pictures. It was a glorious morning. Skiing to Pear Lake, I saw two snow campers who were enjoying the scene. The lost snowshoers complained of numb toes, and we tried to use the old radio to speak with the rangers, but it didn't work. I told the others to stay at the hut, as they were now overdue. My partner and I skied out, good that my partner didn't hurt himself skiing down, as he wasn't a very good skier. I beelined to the ranger station where we reported the lost snowshoers, and I hear they sent in a helicopter to pick them up.

My partner and I toured the Sequoia groves, and contented ourselves with a safely done overnight in a National Park, and a small contribution to a rescue. I drove us home that night, with only a five hour drive back to Northern California. I was to visit the hut three more times, twice with an overnight stay by skis, and I'd say it is the best lodging in the backcountry, with a nice setting, and a good effort to access by skis in winter.