Saturday, February 23, 2013

Big Jay Powder Day

Brad, 6:54 am: Take your skins up to Jay. Better get up there and ski for me.

Me, 7:28 am: Can't do it. Overslept. No ski buddy.

Brad, 8:03 am: "No friends on a powder day" means you're still suposed to ski. You know they got 2 feet?

Brad, 11:54 am: So, how is it?

Me, 8:54 pm: Got the only tracks on Big Jay all day. Almost impaled myself on a spruce, ended up in a pit, and avalanched myself off a jump.

Brad, 8:55 pm: Dude. When i told you to take your skins i didn't mean to get yourself killed solo in the bc. 

Me, 8:55 pm: Sorry. You can't reason with 3 feet of powder. If today were the last day I ever skied, at least it would have been the best.

Me, 8:56 pm: Hey, don't tell my wife I hitchhiked. She'd kill me quicker than a spruce pit.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Winter Biking and Powder Skiing in the Kingdom

Fish Fry-days, every Friday during Lent
Friday morning was unusually calm given New England was expecting a major noreaster and upwards of 30 inches of snow through the weekend. As usual, I was up at the crack of dawn to check the forecast and flakes hadn't even started falling here in Rio Blanco. There were two clear choices. A four hour slog south in the skimobile to bomb all 425 feet of vertical and unlimited refills on powder at Mount Southington, Connecticut. Or, wait it out here in Vermont and hope for the best. With major road closures expected in southern New England, and only the most modest/baldest of light truck tires mounted on my HONDA, Connecticut was out. And I like waiting as much as I like a kick in the balls. Somewhere there had to be a better third option. 

The northern tip of so-called 'Winter Storm Nemo' had just entered Vermont, and the snowier southern end was starting to form up off-shore in Southern New Enlgand, leaving massive stretch of clear air along the I-91 corridor all the way to the Northeast Kingdom. This left a narrow window of opportunity to get north in time to catch both the leading and trailing edges of Nemo. Quick action required, the wheels began to turn a I visualized the gearshed that is the back of my Pilot. Skis - check. Boots - check. Helmet(s) - check. Mountain bike? Check.

This Valentine's Day, get that special someone
 something special. Get them carbide studs.
I'd been out all week in Lebanon NH's Boston Lot riding some of the hardest hardpack I've ever seen in New England. Winter fat bike use had left the Lot with 20 miles of icy rock hard snail trail, and studded tires had opened my eyes to the wonders (and horrors) of February mountain biking. The Kingdom Trails Facebook page had been pushing their new winter biking trails pretty hard all week as well. If I could get there by 9, there was a chance to get a good 2 hours of single track in, grab some lunch in town, and snap on the powder skis for an afternoon of freshies at Burke Mountain. 

For some reason, everything we've done in 2013 had gone perfectly, exactly according to plan, or even better than expected. My doubleheader in East Burke was no exception.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Vermont's Catamount Trail on a Fat Bike

I'm not much for point-to-point anything in the outdoors. These kinds of trips require a dedication to planning and logistics that, thanks to my undiagnosed hyper-thyroid and ADHD, I just don't have the time or patience for. This attitude excludes me from a number of fine outdoor sports that others seem to thoroughly enjoy. Sea kayaking (barf), canoeing (great when done from a dock with a beer in hand), pub crawling (inherent danger of never knowing where you might end up, or with whom), and most of all long distance hiking.

Point-to-point sporting enthusiasts have put a lot of work into the trails they've created, and there's no shortage of epic treks to be had here in New England. Vermont's has it's own version of the Appalachian Trail in the 272 mile Long Trail. For epic paddles you can float the Roger's Rangers route up the Richelieu from Lake Champlain to the St. Laurence River. Epic road riding? There's the Harpoon Point-to-Point, or, for the truly insane, the 1200 km Boston-Montreal-Boston Randonee. And with plenty of great through-routes in the Whites, it's not exactly slim pickings for skiers either.

Mountain bikers, on the other hand, have a long day at Kingdom Trails and... the Catamount Trail?

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

An Evening With Google Earth

Magalloway's hot sister. Look at those glades.  Hubba hubba.
The dry weather has us backcountry-repressed here at NEBC.  So we've been trying to scratch our itch by playing around with Google Earth to plan some future trips.  Come see what we've found.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

The Monarch Crest Trail, Salida, Colorado

It was obvious I didn't learn much in my 8th grade Spanish class after I spent four days in Salida, CO wondering why anyone would name a city "Salad." I guess "Gran Montana," "Rio Blanco" or "Ciudad de Sucio Hippy" seem more appropriate.

I've often tried to find the words to accurately describe the four July days I spent slogging through the Colorado backcountry, riding some of the best single track the Rockies have to offer, including racing Xterra Beaver Creek, DNF'ing the Breckenridge 100, riding remote backcountry segments of the Colorado Trail, and tackling a 40 mile descent of Salida's infamous Monarch Crest Trail.

I think the problem was I was traveling solo and by the time I got home I was so sick of my own thoughts that I couldn't be bothered to try to put pen to paper and share them with anyone else. But enough time has gone by that I can go back to that amazing cold dark place and tell you why I'm dying to go return to CO and do it all again.