Posts Tagged ‘moose creek cabin’

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.