Tyson Sawyer updated April 23, 2019
Another case of lemonade from lemons. Thor and I had planned an AMC-NH group trip on Saturday to ski Monroe Brook off the west side of Mount Monroe. Unfortunately, the forecast was calling for anywhere between 2 and 12 inches of snow on top of an icy surface with winds in the 50-70 mph range and overcast. The forecast had been quite variable over time and we needed to make a decision with enough time for the entire group to stay coordinated. Thursday I sent an email to the group listing a few options. On Friday I informed everyone that the votes where decidedly in favor a nice glade that Thor had been exploring off the side of the Kancamagus Highway. We were all disappointed to not ski Monroe, but would make the best of it.
Emilie had planned to join this trip, but we had plans to ski the Gulf of Slides with Isaac the next day and we couldn’t figure out what to do with Isaac while we were on this trip. Emilie and Isaac ended up skiing with some friends at Cannon instead.
Thor and I arrived early wanting to get to the trailhead before the group so we could be ready with our boots changed when they arrived. This group was having none of that. 2 of the 4 were already parked when we arrived and the other 2 pulled up right behind us. The air was warm enough to soften the snow and the sun was shining.
I had joined Thor for an initial exploratory trip in 2014. On our first trip, we had missed where the trail turned off an old logging road and entered the woods. The map we were using was not detailed enough to discern our error for quite a ways. On the descent at the end of the day we managed to follow the trail back to the logging road.
This time, I was ready. I was pretty sure that after the 2014 trip, I had used my GPS track to update OpenStreetMap.org with the correct trail routing. That map was in my phone. I began to question how sure I was when both Thor and I were pretty sure that we recognized the section of logging road that the trail had intersected well before the map on my phone said it should. We did a good bit of poking around and backtracking. We consulted other GPS’s in the group, one of which depicted a trail about where Thor and I felt “our trail” should be. We decided to head off trail toward the other trail and see what we would find.
It was an easy bushwhack except for one stream crossing that presented a small challenge, exactly the type of backcountry skiing Emilie loves. We eventually found what may have been the trail we were looking for, but then lost it again. As the terrain gained altitude, the hardwood forest that had been easy to travel was becoming thicker with evergreens. Eventually we were within a couple hundred yards of the trail depicted on my phone. I made a slight course correction and soon found the correct trail exactly where my phone said it would be. The remainder of the skin in to the glade was highlighted by the trail’s need for trimming and one difficult water crossing where all but Thor removed skis. This crossing would get the best of me on the way out. I found myself standing in the stream with one ski off and unable to get the other one off. The tech-toe of the other twisted at an angle and refused to release my boot.
We arrived at our primary destination to find soft, deep snow and small rollers formed from the recent new snow. More rollers came down the steep slope around me, set off by the rest of the group above me. After warning everyone to watch out for the ledge to our right that we had climbed above, we all enjoyed a run down the slope. We couldn’t have asked for better conditions and the glade was very nice, especially for one that hadn’t seen any trimming. The vertical drop was 400 ft and the slope was generally 20-30 degrees with the steepest areas approaching 40.
We paused for lunch at the bottom and unanimously voted for a 2nd lap. This time, one of our skiers found a route through the ledge that I’ll need to find next time I’m back there.
When I returned home, I check the history of the trail in OpenStreetMap. It was the route I had entered into their database after our 2014 trip. I should have trusted it.