Posts Tagged ‘lees’

An Evening at Moose Creek Cabin

Monday, November 9th, 2009

On a brisk Saturday morning Tom, Marsh, and I left mile 28 trail head on the Eliot Highway to ski into Moose Creek Cabin
for a overnight ski trip. This was our first cabin trip of the ski season and it was wonderful to be back on skis again.  The route was roughly 16 miles one way, plus or minus a mile depending on what signs you believe.

The ski in was quite fun and fairly good skiing given that there was only about 6 inches of snow.  Alas, this is not quite enough to cover the all the rocks and ruts, so the trails in the Whites are at least currently only good for rock skis.  Another few inches of snow would improve things greatly – hopefully more snow will be coming soon.  The dogs pulled some of our stuff in a pulk and were fairly good tempered about hitched to a sled again.

The first 6 miles on Wickersham Creek Trail were in fairly good shape, with only the occasional rock.  It appeared that the trail had only seen limited use, with a couple of snow machine tracks, a set of bike tracks, and one set of ski tracks from someone skate skiing.  I was quite impressed someone could skate the trail given the ruts, and it provided a bit of motivation to get back to skating.

My pulk setup is a bit unusual – the dogs run free behind me and pull a sled with a chain break that slows it down if it starts overtaking them.  This setup works quite well and I have never had it hit the dogs or cause any trauma even on steep hills.  It took a bit of training to get the dogs to stay behind me, but once they got on board it quickly became automatic for them.  On super steep hills (like descending on the final hill into Tolovana for example) I like to rough lock the sled to improve steering, but otherwise it requires no intervention on my part.    I really like this setup, as I can have the dogs haul all the bulky gear, like sleeping bags, straw, and my Lobens.

Once past the turn off to Lee’s cabin on Trail Creek Trail the conditions deteriorated a bit, and the ruts increased a lot.  We had to walk up one of the hills due to all the frozen ruts.  This trail gets a bit of atv use in the summer and it shows.

On the way out a this section was completely unskiable as three dog teams training with atvs doing a out and back training run had pretty much pounded the remaining snow away.

Eventually we reached the cabin, got a fire going, and soon had it nice and warm.   We spent the evening talking, eating, followed by more talking and discussion of future trips plans (Tom and Marsh made a one page list of trips to do next summer), further eating, and finally sleeping.  We are very lucky to have the White Mountains trail system so close to town – it makes going on fun trips so easy!

The dogs had hauled in a turtle cake, which was entirely consumed, much to my surprise – I had brought one of these on a trip a couple of years before and it ended up only being half eaten.  Alas, my backup deserts were not consumed, but such is life.  The White Mountains cabins make winter camping so lazy and fun – instead of being stuck in a frosty cold tent we get to relax in a nice warm cabin listening to the crackle and pop of the spruce logs burning in the stove.  Its a wonderful way to spend a weekend!

We awoke to a light breeze and a thermometer that said -24f. I had originally planned to have a family trip to one of the nearer in cabins this weekend, but after seeing the brisk morning weather was glad that the other families with kids had been too busy for that plan to work out. After a breakfast of pancakes and bacon we headed out to ski back to our car.

The colder weather made for slower skiing, but made for some impressively frosty face masks.

On the way out we stopped by Lees cabin, which is conveniently near the half way point and still warm from the previous tenants, for a quick bite to eat.  I enjoyed a Hostess Fruit Pie – these things have the amazing property of never really freezing.  I am not sure whats in them (I am a bit too scared to read the ingredients – I stopped after hitting “beef tallow”), but they are still quite edible at super cold temperatures and make wonderful snacks for ski trips.  A lot of food becomes tooth breaking hard at cold temps and becomes too hard for my “unhinge jaw, swallow it in one gulp” snacking style.

In a little under 2 hours after leaving Lee’s cabin we reached we hit the parking lot.  Everyone had a wonderful time and our skis (mostly) survived intact.

For those folks who would like to see the pulk in action, I have a short, pixelated video of the setup.  This is my first attempt to actually make and post such a video, and it shows.

A map of the route – better and more complete maps can be found at the White Mountains NRA website.

A post script – perhaps I am getting old and whiny, but I was somewhat underwhelmed by the state of the cabins wood supply, in particular the lack of fire starting supplies and trash that greeted us on arrival. Whats the deal here folks – common courtesy suggests you leave the cabin ready for the next visitor with at least enough wood and tinder to get a fire going and warm up the cabin. BLM doesn’t have magic cabin fairies that flit from cabin to cabin stocking wood and packing out trash – its the visitor’s job to pack out their own trash and to make sure that the next
vistor is greeted with at least enough wood and fire starting material to get a fire going and warm up.  Enough said.

Time to Ski!

Monday, November 2nd, 2009

Tom and I did a short day ski trip,  12 to 14 miles depending on which signs you believe, in the White Mountains NRA.  The skiing was fast but fairly marginal, with only around 4 inches of snow.  Ski season has definitely arrived –  wahoo!