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First Ski in the Whites

Thursday, December 15th, 2011

I got out today and skied 20 or so miles in the Whites.. It was a beautiful day, and it was very nice to be getting some outside time. It was a fairly short ski, only out to the Wickersham Creek Trail shelter and back for a round trip of about 18 miles, but it was nice to on skis and enjoying the snow. Thanks for providing the motivation Tom!

Thoughts on Skiing vs Biking

Saturday, February 5th, 2011

I have been spending a lot of time on the snow bike and not much time on the skis. This is bit unusual for me – normally this time of year I spend almost all my outside play time on skis, and has got me thinking a bit about the differences between snow biking and skiing. There is a local 30 mile loop made by combining two local trails, the Eldorado Creek trail and Oconner Creek trails with a a couple of random connector trails that start at the door of my house. Its a pretty fun loop, with a bit of altitude gain and a long downhill.

If you live in the area these trails are well worth exploring – lots of good skiing and biking, with enough variation in the trails to keep things interesting.

The two main trails are connected at the top by some trails run along the power lines that run near Old Murphy Dome road at the top..

And the Goldstream Trail at the bottom.

The Goldstream Trail is often the coldest part of this loop, and can have some very funky cloud and inversion formations.

I take a couple of smaller trails to get to the start of the loop, including a trail called the “Dredge Swath” trail, which was originally a trail made to haul gold dredges from Ester to the some mines along Goldstream Creek. For a long time I thought folks were calling it the “Dread Swath”… perhaps because I am hearing comprehension impaired. I did spend some time thinking about what was dreadful about it though..

This loop has become my default bike or ski route when I am looking for a longish day trip. On skis it takes about 7 hours, on a bike it takes between three and a half to four and half hours. I do this loop once or twice a week, and it is very fun. On a bike do the loop in a counter-clockwise manner to I can ride up the less steep climb on the Oconner Creek Trail, and down the much steeper Eldorado Creek trail. When skiing I do it the other way – ski up the steeper section and down the less steep hills.

Hills feel very different on the bike vs the ski – on a bike long downhills are very cold as the only thing I have to do is ride the brakes. On skis downhills require quite a bit of lower leg effort which keeps me nice and warm even for long cold downhills. Going up on the bike is a lot more work, mainly because the more effort I put in the faster I go, while on skis there is not much more reward for expending extra effort, so I tend to just cruse. This means I can really wipe myself out on the bike, yet never really seem to get tired while skiing. I am sure if my ski form was better, or if I could skate things would be a bit different.. but with my current skiing form its hard to get wore out.

Other surprising differences include how easy it is to duck under low hanging branches while skiing and how hard it is to dodge those branches while biking.

Bikes are a lot more complicated mechanically than skis are, which means the chance of breaking something is a alot higher. I have not had any troubles so far, but perhaps I have been lucky. The worst thing that has happned to me so far is icy brakes, which look pretty troublesome, but still work fine.

Skiing is much faster when the snow is soft, but when the snow is cold and hard it much faster to bike… both ways are fun though.

Its hard to face-plant on skis, but its happens amazingly fast on a snow bike. Several times now I have been zooming along on a snow machine trail only to punch though in front and have a over the bars experience.

Overflow is fun on a bike and skis, though in different ways. On skis it is pretty easy and fast to double pole though frozen or wet overflow, so long as you can slow down enough when required. With metal edges slowing down is no problem. On a bike overflow is pretty fun, however it is a lot easier to slip on the ice on a bike when the ice is hard and smooth. Wet or textured overflow is no problem on the bike, as the texture gives lots of traction. The bike does not ice up much, unlike skis, so once you are off the overflow happiness returns and there are no “memories of overflow past” in the form of slow iced ski bottoms.

Enough randomness for now, hope everyone is having a good weekend!

Let there be snow..

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

On the Sunday night following Thanksgiving Tom and I headed out to the White Mountains NRA to go for a overnight ski trip to Crowberry Cabin. The previous week had been one of very strange weather in town – we had received a record level of rain and a good portion of our snow pack. I was not entirely sure of what to expect… When we arrived at the parking lot of the Mile 28 trail head, it was soon apparent that things were different here – there was lots and lots of snow. Possibly more snow than we had at the end of last year’s skiing season. The trees were bending over from the weight of it – lots of fresh, heavy snow. It appears that while it was raining in town it was snowing here – hurray!

After a quick start we were soon zooming down the trail enjoying the amazingly deep snow and the wonderful sunrise.

The ski into the cabin was slow but un-eventful. It was hovering around 0f for our ski into the cabin, and while the trails were well broken out the fresh cold snow crystals made for slow travel.

We passed a party heading out and I stopped and chatted for a bit. They told us that the night afterTthanksgiving it dumped over 12 inches of snow and that they had to break trail in about two feet of fresh snow into the cabin we were heading out to. I was very happy to have the trail in – breaking trail though all that snow would have been hard work. All the fresh snow and the clear skies made for wonderful views.

After seven hours or so we reached the cabin and mellowed out, enjoying dinner and several rounds of dessert. Remus had hauled in two pints of ice cream (Ben and Jerry’s Cherry Garcia and Cookie Dough, if you are wondering) which were enjoyed immensely, though there was still room for backup dseserts – “Man” flavored pocky. I skipped this delicious (?) treat and took Tom’s word for its edibility.

Eventually we hit the sacks with plans for an early start as I was expecting a bike delivery and Tom was had writing related evening engagements the following day. Fortunately we were awakened by an unexpected visitor at around 7am. I was partially aroused my slumber by the crunch, crunch of boots on the cabin’s deck then the sound of the door opening and a headlamp shining in my eyes, and a muffled exclamation and the slam of the door. I was only partially awake and my fuzzy mind didn’t processes this information very well, instead I somehow got the impression that Tom had got up to answer the call of nature. Thinking this was not a bad idea I got up, noticed Tom was still sleeping, stumbled outside to relieve myself in a snow bank, only to be illuminated by a very bright headlamp. Apparently a musher had pulled up outside the cabin, and thinking it was empty decided to come inside and warm up while his or her dogs rested, only to have these plans foiled by our presence. After being hit with the spot light I quickly retreated inside to get more clothes on and then headed back outside to say hi to the musher only to find he had taken off. Oh well – it removed any need for the alarm clock. We had our breakfasts, packed up and hit the trail. It was a bit colder in the morning – about -10f in the hills and -20f in the valleys, but very clear and beautiful.

The ski out was fairly uneventful and a bit faster due to the mushing traffic – the musher’s snow machine tread breaks smooth down the trails wonderfully, rounding off those sharp snow crystals and making for faster skiing.

We stopped at Moose Creek cabin to duck out of the wind and I was surprised to see the place was still warm. I expect the musher who dropped in on us moved on to this cabin to warm up and crashed for a while.. alas he left a bit of a mess – the place reeked of bacon fat with a fair bit spilled on the wood stove and dog food littered the floor. Such is life I guess. The rest of the trip out was uneventful, though very, very beautiful. We passed several mushers on the trail including one I knew and we chatted a bit. He was off for a several day adventure and was unfazed by the news that the trail might not be broken out where he was headed. We also pasted several mushers from Aliy Zirkle’s Kennel who were looking to be having a great time.

We made it back into town at 5pm, well in time to meet our various engagements – I picked up my bike (my much awaited Fatback) and Tom headed off to his writer’s group.
Happy Monday everyone!

The snow levels on this end of the Whites ranged from 2ft to 4ft+. The trails are not well traveled out yet – it appeared that the trail past Crowberry is not yet broken out. The trails that are broken out are in great shape – its definitely going to be a great year for enjoying the Whites!

A Beautiful Day…

Monday, August 2nd, 2010

Remus and I escaped this afternoon to go hike Granite Tors..
It was a great after noon, hot and sunny – a fantastic day for a hike, and for reflecting on life the universe and everything. Time well spent.

We found berries..

And more berries..

And even more berries..

Blueberry season appears to be on us.. Get your picking in now before Remus and I eat them all!

The next adventure..

Saturday, July 17th, 2010

I am off with Ms Marsh and Tom to do a copy cat trip, ripping off Ed Plumb and Friends Melozii Trip. It should be a pretty mellow 7 day trip. We can be followed at my spot tracker page.

Hope everyone has a good week!

A Weekend with the Family

Tuesday, June 29th, 2010

The family and I had a very busy weekend.  On Saturday we hiked up to Wickersham Dome.  Molly and Lizzy walked the entire way up to the dome by themselves.

There was quite a bit of stopping to check stuff out – the twins are continually amused by random things along the trail. Lizzy was quite fascinated with the flowers.

They made pretty good time even with the stops and had a blast hiking.

(Photo provided by Eli)

They even enjoyed the final climb to the top – after which of course everyone had a nice lunch and then rode in backpack carriers to the car while taking a nap.  Everyone being the twins that is.

On Sunday we headed out to Chena Lakes to spend the afternoon goofing off, playing in the water, and hopefully getting in some packrafting practice time. Nancy biked there along with Tom and her old school friend Eli who is in town for a conference. They appeared to have a good bike ride, but when we caught up with them they were having fun fixing a flat. Fortunately the twins were around to supervise the repairs.

Eventually we made it to Chena Lakes, where the twins got out their own bikes.

Eventually Nancy took the twins out for a nap time run in the Chariot, and Tom and I got out our packrafts and spent several hours splashing around in the lake. The water was fantasticly warm given it was a fairly cloudy overcast day. We spent a lot of time practising re-entering flipped packrafts – I think I flipped and got back in about 30 times. I was much, much faster by the end of the day. Spending a bit of time practising flipping is really worth while – it keeps you from panicking when you flip in moving water, and hopefully allows you get back in. Not panicking is pretty crucial if you don’t want to loose your paddle and possibly your raft – potentially leaving you with a long walk home. Chena Lakes is a great place to do this – the water is quite warm and the lake is normally not all that busy. The beach is pretty busy, but the rest of the lake is generally pretty unused.