Tyson and Bill led the anual AMC Cedar Brook trip. Typically sparsely attended, this year it had two competent backcountry skiers and three, well, lets call them strong backyard cross country skiers for participants. For an intro to backcountry skiing, this trip is quite an adventure. The trip up requires skins part of the way. The trip down has some narrow steeper spots, and some long kick and glide. And overall the trip is 13 miles. The good news is that the three new folks all loved the challenge and had fun.
This instance of the trip had a few extra challenges. The trail in is shared with snowshoers. I’d say about 4 snowshoers packed out the track, and then a couple people post holed it for good measure, before the track froze solid. We had to explain to the newbies that this was a particularly aweful track. We were overjoyed when the snowshoers lost the trail and we had unbroken crunchy snow ahead of us.
I got to demonstrate what a spruce trap is while walking around with my skis off for a stream crossing. One leg went down out of sight in the snow. The only thing that stopped me from going farther was my other leg doing the splits on top of the snow.
The next challenge we ran into was downed trees. This was expected from the snow storm a few weeks ago. The question was how bad would it be, and how large the elevation range where the wet snow fell was. The answer was given to us in time. At the worst of the the downed trees, we were an hour behind schedule. However, by the time we got to the decision point, we were back on schedule. At that point we had passed above the wet snow band, but we were necessarily going to encounter it on the way back down.
The downslope was a bit challenging for the newbies. I did a mix of staying in back, and passing them because I was going much faster. Eventually we got ourselves sorted out into a good order: Tyson skiing a ways ahead with the saw to cut downed trees, then the three newbies, then Bill, Mike (victim of our 17 hr epic), and myself bringing up the tail. The pace ment that there was plenty of time for chatting at the back.
We did end up behind schedule, and even that schedule puts us coming out in the dark. But that’s generally ok because the last three miles out are broad, flat, and well packed. In the light of my LED headlamp, the snow was nice and white. But the sections of ice didn’t seem to reflect the light until I was almost on top of them. The issue being that bare dirt also does not reflect light. Well, apparently folks got too complacent because at the bottom of a nice slope, the front three people ended up laid out flat in the gravel. Reportedly there was a nice fireworks display of sparks from metal edges.