I was scheduled to co-lead an AMC trip with Erik. Normally that would mean lots of organization and some coaching. But Erik did all the screening. And the folks who actually came were all regulars. So this turned into just a fun ski together. We had planned to ski the White Mountain National Forest Beaver Brook backcountry nordic area. Sarah and Erik made the call to switch to the groomed Bretton Woods nordic area down the road. We were concerned the snow would be icy. The mid week 60F temperatures had melted and softened the snow, but then the temperature plummeted Friday. None of the kids had skis that could handle ice. Groomed nordic seemed like the safer idea.
I read an online complaint that blogs like these never tell about the crummy parts. Well, the worst part that day was getting our gear on in the car. Once we had our skis on, tempers cooled back down and the day was great.
Out in the open was cold and blustery, so we quickly ducked into the trees. At the first swampy bit, Fenton — one of the kids — heard chirping in the trees. We paused to look for the bird and were rewarded by a whole flock of hairy woodpeckers flying around us and twittering at us.
The nordic shop had warned us that conditions were “variable”. Most of the trails hadn’t been groomed that day. When Sarah took her snow measurement at lunch, we considered which description of the snow best fit
- crud – yes
- crust – yes, breakable crust off the side of the trail
- powder – yes, the morning started with an inch of fresh powder
- slush – yes, off trail, puddles lurked under that breakable crust. Two kids fell in.
We ate lunch in a sunny spot in the woods. Out of the wind, it felt pleasantly warm. After lunch, the two youngest kids came out of their pulks and shuffle skied for a little bit. We also stopped for a mid afternoon break at the warming hut. All the kids piled in, plus a couple adults. Sarah worked her magic to fix cold feet and hands, and bodies that wanted to wiggle and play. The rest of us stood outside for proper social distancing, and to enjoy the view of the southern Presidential range. The kids were making such a ruckus that when another group came by, they jokingly asked if we had locked the kids in.
Warning to future pulk users – even if your kid stays warm for three hour trips in the pulk, they may get cold on an all day ski trip. Wrap them up in a sleeping bag or blanket from the beginning. It’ll avoid crankiness later.
Isaac had so much fun that I barely saw him all day. He was always bouncing off ahead with Fenton. Tyson and I each enjoyed hanging out with the other adults.