This is my experiencing backpacking on a popular, moderately hard route to a cabin with ample ski areas.
Backpacking to Elfin Lakes when unfit and a shitty skiier is definitely a stupid thing to do. However, I did it, so you should too.
R: You looked like you were having so much fun there! Skiing through the powder!
Me: I was scared shitless because I can’t ski and if I fall and have to get back up for the 10th time, I will not get back up, because of the 30 pounds of backpacking and food I didn’t finish eating on my back.
R: Oh really?
R: You look like you had fun.
Me: I did. In hindsight.
V: Do you want to take off your skins and ski here? (X10)
V: I’m going to ask you again, it’s downhill, want to ski?
V: Why not?
Me: If I fall down I’m not going to be able to get back up with this backpack. Then you’ll have to wait 10 minutes.
Other snowshoers in the cabin: How’s the skiing?
Me: I don’t even know how to ski. It’s fun.
Me: *by myself* *takes half an hour to try to put on ski boots* Fuck! *Leaves with 2 straps undone and leaves to ski because can’t figure out how to strap it and too embarrassed to ask.
Conversation with myself:
Me: Why the fuck didn’t I bring a light snowboard if I end up carrying my 10 pound skis over the areas I can’t ski??
Me: This powder would be fun on a snowboard.
Me: This powder is fun on skis right? *falls over and can’t get back up*
Me: I love skiing because I love skinning, not because I love skiing. Skiing is too scary to be enjoyable.
N and R: *cheering as I go over a two-ski wide section, bordered by a snowy drop I can’t possibly get back out if I fell into* You did it!
Me: @#*#$(*#&$(#&$! I nearly died!
Me: *sees a focussed looking skiier glide by* I’m going to switch to skiing forever. *sees a snowboard, all laid back, glide by.* I take that back.
I was able to get out of Elfin Lakes on skis alive but there are definitely many, many things you should know before you attempt this. a) Leave early b) don’t carry more than you can carry, for a longer time than estimated c) don’t be so afraid that you refuse to leave the beaten path because there’s plenty of safe powder on either side of the path d) stay with a educated and prepared group e) Expect that some things will only be fun in hindsight because they were too hard/too dangerous to enjoy on the fly. f) Look around at any moment your mental and physical resources are freed up from tackling the hike/ski. It’s beautiful. But even if you can’t, you will still have a great time.
Logistics-wise, winter roads are dangerous. Before the trip I would have said I would have done anything for powder but that is simply not true. Chains on tires are a must. A tree fell in front of our car on the road and we spent 4 hours driving down the mountain road. Know how to drive with chains on an icy road before you attempt to drive a bunch of people. Also, you must be able to ski a bit or at least have practiced walking in skis with a heavy backpack before trying a trail that may or may not have tight section where you have to have control of your skis or fall so deep you have to be rescued. Having emergency gear should be a must. (Ehh…good thing other people were paying more attention.)