Posts Tagged ‘moose creek cabin’

Moose Creek, from town

Monday, January 23rd, 2017

I have been (attempting to anyway) training for the Iditarod Trail Invitational, and had been feeling very under trained. This is sort of a long standing joke in my house hold – when ever I bring it up my daughters mock me unmercifully.

In an attempt to get a ride in with a fully loaded bike, I booked Moose Creek cabin in the White Mountains NRA for a friday night, and headed out mid morning from my house. The cabin is about 35 ish miles from my house via trails.

Tom joined me for the first bit, eventually peeling off to head back for other obligations.

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The ride in was a bit of a slog, and I had issues keeping my legs and feet warm in the lower areas, where the temps were around –20f. Eventually I gave up, put the overboots on, and my feet were fine. I tried to manage my sweating like all the cool kids are doing, and it was mostly successful, tough it is hard for a big person like me not to overheat on the hills.

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Last year I purchased some Wolfgars boots from 45n. They are a bit of a mixed bag – I like them while riding, but I have just about given up on them for the ITI, as they are pretty stiff in the upper, and walk not so well. After my 2012 scratch from the ITI, I have promised myself that I must always have footwear that I can push my bike in for long distances. As a replacement I used 2 sizes too large Keen winter boots, which seem to be a good compromise. At around -10f they get too cold to wear without overboots, but with overboots they appear to be fine. They walk much, much better than the Wolfgars.

About 10 miles from the cabin a musher passed me going up a big hill. Parts of my route are on regular training routes for some of the local mushers, and they generally keep the trails in great shape. On the way back down he stopped to chat a bit, and he told me the trail wasn’t in all the way. Oh, well, some pushing was going to be required. I hoped he just didn’t know the trails all that well, but alas, it turned out the musher was right.

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I had two to three miles of pushing before reaching the cabin. I was a bit worked when I arrived, and was very happy to start a fire, have dinner, and hit the sack. In the morning I headed out, and back home.

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The ride back was almost entirely in the daylight, which was fantastic.

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I even stopped to get a few photos of the notes written on the pipeline..

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The ride out was a bit faster, though it snowed a bit overnight, but this was made up much less climbing. It was around -20f for most of the ride out, and I dressed better, and had no issues.

Snow Biking!

Tuesday, November 6th, 2012

Winter is finally here, with colder temperatures and a bit of snow. I managed to get out for my second bike ride in the White Mountains of the winter, and my first ride over 5 hours since the snow has come. It was a wonderful day to be on the bike…

The trails in the Whites are a bit rough, but passable. It should be ok skiing, though a bit thin. The biking was pretty good!

I was surprised to see lots of fat bike tracks and a single set of smaller tires – looks like snow biking just keeps going up in popularity!

The first 6 miles of trail were packed hard, and the riding was fast. Just after Lee’s cabin the trail got a fair bit softer, but the riding was still pretty nice…

I seemed to have the place to myself, with only a small bird and a couple of raven’s interrupting the solitude.

I continued on to Moose Creek cabin, ducked into the cabin to check things out, then turned around and headed back to the parking lot.

A couple of miles before the parking lot Denali came out, backlit by the setting sun. A wonderful way to end a day!

On a bike geek note, I put on some cheap carbon (faux?) levers that added a surprising amount of comfort, mainly warmer (happier!) fingers. Well worth the ~$50, if they hold up.

I hope everyone is enjoying winter!

Whites 100 Trail Recon

Monday, March 21st, 2011

With the White Mountains 100 a week away, Tom and I headed out to the Whites for a quick overnighter to check on the trail conditions. Last year the race was a week earlier, and the weather quite a bit colder, so I was a bit concerned about the trail conditions.. We left town at early afternoon and were on the trail at around 3pm – just in time to encounter a fair number of folks returning from weekend jaunts on snowmachines, which combined with the warm weather made for very soft trails.

The first several miles were too soft to bike, but the further we got in the firmer the trails were. Alas, there was a constant stream of snowmachine traffic which keep things fairly soft.

After a overnighter at Moose Creek cabin we left fairly early in the morning, and the trails were much, much faster. We took a less traveled side trail which is not part of the race, Moose Creek Trail, and it was pretty soft due to some heavy paddle track action..

.. but once we hit Wickersham Creek trail things got a fair bit harder and faster. From the Train Shelter (the final checkpoint) to the big climb out of the Wickersham Creek valley the riding was very good and very fast – I averaged 9 mph without a lot of effort. This was pretty good news, as it means the trails are going to be pretty good when they are not disturbed by heavy traffic.

The overnight low at Moose Creek was -5f, which is pretty good news, as it is cold enough the trails will setup up over night, but not so cold as to create problems for folks. Last year the overnight lows were around -20f, which led to some unhappiness. So the verdict is that the first mile or so will be fairly painful – soft with lots of moguls, but the rest of the trails will be pretty firm and fast until things warm up in the mid to late afternoon, at least for the bikers. From a classic skiing perspective, everything looks pretty good – the snow is not super cold so there should be reasonable glide, though the snow is pretty coarse so it will be hard on kick wax, and from a skating perspective, the trails look wonderful – wide enough to give good skating and enough snow to make the trails fairly smooth, at least for the first 25 miles and the last 10 we explored.

In other good news, the overflow appears to be pretty mellow. The section before the Trail Shelter has in the past year had fairly epic slanting ice sheets – this year its pretty mellow and entirely ridable. While there is lots more overflow to be had on the race course, the fact that this section is in good shape is a very good sign.

I have been playing with making movies lately, so here is some video from the ride:

Whites 100 Trail Recon from J C on Vimeo.

Only a couple more days to go! Time to go carbo load – go drink some beer and eat some ice cream!

More photos can be found here:

Pre Whites 100 Trail Recon

Biking in the Whites

Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010

On a cold Wednesday morning I found my self with the day free of family obligations and the urge to get out on the new bike. After looking at Weather Underground, I noticed things were quite a bit warmer in the hills, and I decided to head off for a day trip in the Whites.

The trail leaving the mile 28 trail head was super hard making for very fast biking.

At the Trail Creek junction I headed towards Moose Creek to avoid the cold weather bound to be found on Wickersham Creek.

After Lee’s Cabin the trails got a bit softer but were still in pretty good shape. The light was fantastic…

Eventually I neared the haystack junction turn off and I turned around and headed back out.

The temps were a lot warmer than at my house in town – it was around -30f at my house when I left town, and perhaps -10f at the mile 28 trail head and -23f at Moose Creek cabin, making for a brisk but still fun trip.

The six hour ride kicked my but but was very fun. The trails were strangely devoid of travelers – I saw a pair of skiers in the parking lot, and some show machiners at Lees, but otherwise had the place to my self and Remus.

Not a bad way to spend a day.

A 50 mile day

Monday, March 1st, 2010


Since the White Mountains 100 is rapidly approaching, Tom and I decided it would be a good idea to get a longer day ski in to get a feel for what it would be like. I had pitched the idea of a out and back to Caribou Bluff cabin, which would be around 60 miles total, but Tom convinced me that an out-and-back to Crowberry Cabin would be a better idea. This was a good call, as the ski was pretty fantastic – the trail was in great shape and super fast.

We made pretty good time, making it to Moose Creek cabin in under 3 hours. The weather was mostly quite nice, though pretty cold and windy in the valleys. The total time was under 11 hours, with a pretty long stop at Crowberry for snacks and to melt water.
Near Crowberry we saw some very interesting weather related mirages.

By midday the sun was out and it was wonderfully sunny and hot. Perhaps too hot.. The last couple of hills before reaching Crowberry seemed to go on forever.

Eventually we reached Crowberry and crashed on the deck, melting snow and snacking while enjoying the sun reflecting off the cabin. After relaxing for a hour or so we packed up and headed back down the trail. It was a super pleasant (though long) ski out, with a number of long pleasant downhills runs.

We almost made it back before dark, though not quite – in the last four miles or so I had to get out the headlamp. The last three miles of the trail always seems to take forever, especially in the dark. There are not a lot of identifying features, except for the signage for the ski loop junction. I am always happy to see this sign, as it means its only a quarter of a mile until the start of the final decent into the parking lot.

One short and delightful downhill later we arrived at the parking lot and were soon munching chips. My legs were not as wipped as I expected, which was good news for the 100. Dropping the 60 miler down to a 50 miler was probably a good call though – I was pretty tired when I reached the car. I also appeared to have grown several extra chins too…

I am still refining my kickwax for these long day skis – I used green powergrip (applied with a heatgun then ironed on) topped off with 4 layers of Swix VR 40 blue on one ski and Toko binder with 8 layers of Start white and 4 layers of Swix VR 40 blue on the other. Both setups seemed to work equally well, and lasted for a very long time – I had to re-top off with Swix VR 40 blue twice but otherwise had excellent kick and fantastic glide though out the day.

More photos, for the picture inclined..

The 50 mile day

The Uninspired Ski

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010


I had a Monday off and had plans to do a 40 mile out and back, but these plans fell though, leaving me with the day off and no firm plans… I was uninspired to try anything new and ended up doing one of my “standard” long day skis, a loop from the mile 28 trailhead of the White Mountains NRA, heading out to Moose Creek Cabin, across on the Moose Creek connector trail to the Wickersham Trail Shelter, then back out to to the mile 28 Trailhead. The trails where in fairly good shape, except for some dirt that is starting to show though on the hills.

The day started out quite fast, and I made it to Moose Creek cabin in three hours and ten minutes, which is quite fast for me, but it started snowing short after I started down the Moose Creek trail, slowing this down a fair bit.

I ended up doing this 35 mile loop in around 8 hours, 7 hours of which I was actually traveling, at least according to my GPS. The GPS has turned out to be a wonderful tool for reducing the number and length of stops – keeping its “Time Stopped” counter low is very motivational.

A training day..

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

On a fine Monday morning Tom and I headed off for a 32 mile day trip, an out-and-back to Moose Creek Cabin in the White Mountains NRA. We are considering doing the White Mountains 100 and thought it would be a good idea to get some longish day ski trips in as training. It was a great day for a long ski – fairly warm and relatively calm by white mountains standards.
The area received a dump of snow the week prior and the trails were much improved.  The first 8 miles or so were quite well beaten down and after that the the trail was a bit narrow for fun skiing on the downhills but otherwise was in great shape. 

The final quarter of a mile or so to moose creek cabin was quite windy – this section of trail crosses a large open field and always provides a fantastic view.

We stopped at Moose Creek cabin for a bite to eat and got a little more excitement that we anticipated.  After we had been at the cabin for 15 minutes or so two snow machiners who had passed us earlier rushed up and joined us in the cabin.  One of the riders had hit a stump while riding in the 12″ of powder and was thrown off his machine, apparently breaking his wrist in the progress.  We helped him wrap up his wrist, gave him some ibuprofen,  and Tom loaned him a much larger mitten so he could keep his enlarged wrist warm..  He turned down my suggestions for splinting his wrist and headed back out to ride back to the mile 28 parking lot one handed.   I expect that was a supremely unpleasant ride out.


Our ski out was, on the other hand, fairly pleasant, but tiring of course.  As Tom put it, “I think I have earned a huge dinner and a nice lie down.”

According to our gps we had a moving average of 4.8 miles per hour and we beat my prevous personal best of 3 and a half hours into Moose Creek cabin, which was quite rewarding and a fantasic first training ski.

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.