Wednesday, 12/30 Idea

Proposal from tMail: the great Carter-Moriah attack (south, middle, north and Moriah):

19-Mile Brook Trail to South Carter
Follow ridge to North Carter
Return via Imp Trail

Mutha's Trip Report (pics here): No report, man. Got too busy and never wrote one up. Read tMail's - it says it ALL!!

tMail's Trip Report (pics here): Well 85% of the intended goal / traverse has been completed in December of 2009 for Carter Moriah.

DogMan, Mutha and myself tackled the all the Carter’s except Carter Dome which was previously done by Mutha and myself in early December of 2009. The weather was fairly warmer than the last outing but the quality of air and snow texture was outstanding.

We started off on the 19 mile brook trail and worked our way toward Zeta Pass and had to do some route finding in order to find the Carter – Moriah trail. We probably spent about 15-20 minutes looking for the trail. There is a good amount of snow up there and this was before the last couple storms so I would imagine it is significant by now.

The trail from Zeta Pass to South, Middle and North Carter was not broke out, we took turns breaking trail. This trip I did a much better job of food, lots of peanut butter crackers, all types of nuts some salted some not and I have two snicker bars that I had in the upper pockets of my pants that stayed somewhat soft but were beginning to harden after 45 minutes.

The recent cold weather that we have been in has brought some real food challenges. I am sticking with the peanut butter crackers, large amounts of almonds, cashews, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and high salt items.

As far as gear, I think I am tying my inner boot to tight I have had feet problems lately, while ascending but when coming down my feet are nice and toasty. This last trip I had Darn Tough Ski socks on with Smartwool Mountaineering socks and everything was still cold, beats me suggestions?

New Patagonia R1 fleece hoody was outstanding and worked well, I have also used my shell jacket a lot more below tree line while hiking as there is tons of snow on branches and trees and the jacket has kept me warm and dry.

I continued the philosophy of not changing and everything dried out and I stayed warm. I have added a smartwool short sleeve shirt to my arsenal as a base layer it worked awesome!

Hats off to DogMan for his first big winter hike nice work!

Redfox was top notch again as we had pizza, nachos, beer, all their break and salads and had conversation about Kmart, St J Co op, NASA, the lunar landing, Pink Floyd, the song Frankenstein, solar power, Rush and Mutha’s old radio show on PBS.


The Great Meteorological Collapse of the End of 2009

As much as I'd like to head to the hills today, tomorrow and Monday, I look at this national weather map and wonder if I shouldn't just stay in bed with the covers over my head.

The MWO is forecasting freezing fog, glazing/riming conditions that will transition to snow eventually. While I don't mind crazy conditions, I'm not crazy, so heading out in this weather is not particularly appealing. The problem is that long-term it doesn't look good until Tuesday.

On the plus side, if the forecasted precip develops true to today's outlook, this even will end with snow and we'll end up with an exceptionally awesome base layer of strong, consolidated crust. A holiday gift that will keep on giving all winter long.

Happy Holidays to All (and congratulations to our italian friends for making through all of the 7 Fishes).


Man Vs. Wildcat

The trek was up Wildcat ski area to the ridge, then north to the Carters as far as we could manage.

Mutha's Trip Report (photos here):
The winds on the Bad Boy were ripping - roaring steady at 60-70 mph - and doing their part to keep us in the freezer all day with temps hovering around zero or just below. The plan worked well, although we made the wise decision not to continue beyond Zeta Pass (and exited via 19-mile brook). Highlights:
  • The ascent up the Wildcat trails was a great start to the day (over 2,000ft gained). We stayed to climber's left of the gondola line and worked our way up a combination of trails (Cougar, Lynx, eventually taking the leftmost, groomed Polecat to the summit). Trail map here. We were mostly on ungroomed trails and the snowshoes did their work. In spite of the sub-zero, windy start to the day we both did the entire ascent w/out any shell or windbreaker .
  • The summit of Wildcat was ROARING. We made a mad dash for the trail to get into the trees. At first I had some uncertainty about where the trail was (there appeared to be two routes into the woods) but made the quick decision when I heard tMail shout over the wind "GO! Take it!". Yeah, no point in hesitating in those conditions.
  • We had unbroken trail from Wildcat to Carter Notch. The trail was easy to follow (a few blowdowns and as much as 5 seconds of uncertainty a few times) nothing particularly dramatic. Just a lot of work.
  • The snow was pretty soft and the descent into the Notch a little crazed. In addition to having to snowshoe-ski down some impressive slopes, much of the descent is on switchbacks. Because of the side of the mountain being filled in with snow, following the trail means going downhill on the diagonal - very difficult footing since the soft, ultra-cold snow didn't pack but just sort of slid downhill.
  • The ascent up to Carter Dome is actually pretty quick - just a little steep work but the sun was beating on us and could've been done bare-handed.
  • The descent off Carter Dome into Zeta Pass was the best part of the day (for me). The snow was deep, deep, deep, and ultra soft powder. You could take huge strides, plunging deep and just letting gravity pull you down the mountain. It was soft, direct, easy, bouncy and lucious - like falling off a pile of goose down.
  • The Carter Dome Trail joins up with the 19 Mile Brook trail and winds through a narrow valley that had the weirdest weather of the day. It was completely protected from the wind and the strong sun baked the dark trees, making for very warm air in the sunny spots. The general ambient air was probably not more than 0-5°, but without wind it was like suddenly finding yourself on a nice March day in the woods.
  • Exiting onto rte 16 and trekking a mile north to where tMail's car was parked (at the Imp trailhead) was great training for Bataan. It was the Pinkham Notch Death March. We trudged along the plowed snow alongside the road, still in our snowshoes, over cigarette butts, beer cans and frozen gatorade bottles. It took about 30 minutes as the evening got darker, the air got colder and the headwind picked up, mixing with exhaust and salt dust.

A few gear notes:
  • The entire day was done with almost no insulation. I wore a facemask the entire time to keep my nose warm - and I kept my beanie over my earlobes. Eventually I switched to a balaclava with integrated face mask to also keep the back of my neck warmer (my soft-shell doesn't have a hood).
  • The cold was really harsh on the food. One of my Boost bottles was so sludged up it was difficult to get the nutrients out. I didn't eat my mackerel sandwich until I got back to the car, but it was like eating a fillet-o-fish right out of the freezer. tMail had his problems w/ food as well.
  • We got concerned about the ability of our headlamps to function and kept one in pants pocket to keep the batteries warm. Mixed in with other reasons for exiting at Zeta Pass (like the prospect of breaking trail for another 6 hours) was the possibility that our headlamps would fail in the cold - even with forehead heat - when worn on the outside of a hat.

tMail's Trip Report (report coming soon, photos here):
It was an interesting morning as temperatures ranged from -17 to -4 while driving. Going through my head I know that -17 is next to impossible to hike in as Mutha and I experienced -25 and that is basic human and gear failure.

We both got ready in the car and started our ascent up Wildcat. The ascent was great I was warm and had great management of moisture. I put on my shell jacket right before we went into the opening near the summit and it never came off the rest of the day. One thing I remembered was to keep the hood up to project the "snow down the back" as everything was covered and the snow was deep and soft.

Things that worked well:

1. Shell jacket with Patagona Capiliene 3 underneath

2. Blackdiamond gloves with liners kept them on all day, hands stayed perfect.

3. I could have put a facemask on but when my face did get cold I would tuck it into the the part of the jacket that was fulled zipped and I warmed up quickly.

Couple of hairy parts going down into Carter Notch no fall zones, managed them well got over my fears of falling, one thing I would have liked to have is my axe.

Carter Notch hut was awesome, nice and warm, we need to spend a night there.

Carter Dome beautiful the snow was beautiful, the views to the east and west were spectacular.

Ascent to Rt 16 was great, soft snow good trails.

Note to anyone going to shop for xc skies in Lydonville, Marcel knows nothing, Mutha and I made him shit his pants. He said they were very busy, there were 3 people in the store, Mutha and I were two of them. The most knowledgeable person in the store Chris was busy helping a lady pick out a sweater. Marcel is a tool - bag.

Danville Inn is awesome for Saturday morning breakfast I highly recommend going there when in Danville.

The xc ski class that MadDog and I took was top notch, you learned everything in 2 minutes and then led on an all out assault of Danville's beaver ponds and a category II bushwhack.


Sunday, the 13th: The Kinsmans

Two scenarios depending on the weather:

  1. Cannon via the Lonesome Lake Trail, drop back down and hit the Kinsmans. Return via Fishin' Jimmy. (13.1 miles)
  2. Ascend via the Fishin' Jimmy. Hit the Kinsmans. Return via the Kinsman Pond Trail. (11.3 miles)
We chose the latter (also descended via Fishin' Jimmy).

tMail's Trip Report (pics here):

While packing for this trip I did the normal thing, mittens, hats, down, shell etc etc etc...but what I what I tried to do was leave the essential stuff I would need near "the zipper". Yes "the zipper" you know that zipper that you never use on your pack (some may have it) that gives you access to the inner large compartment?

What I have been trying to do and this is working well is not change, what I mean by that is keep my base layer/capiliene layer on once we stop for lunch, above timberline or in exposed area. I am trying to "trust my equipment" in the anticipation that it will dry quickly, why did I buy it to begin with?

So yesterday when I stopped, I immediatly pulled out my shell jacket put it on which stopped some wind that was circulating around us and then put my down jacket on over that zipped up everything and both hoods on and I remained warm. I never went into my pack all day I used "the zipper".

When we started to move again I took my down off, jammed it back through "the zipper" and just vented the shell properly with pit zips and the front zip, the baselayer dried relatively quickly.

Trip Report:
  1. G$$$ picked me up (G$$$ thanks for driving) at Kohls and we rocked at at 80mph to Lincoln for DD stop
  2. We met DogMan and Mutha at the lot
  3. Mutha went up to a car and said do i know you people, they probably thought he was going to kill them
  4. We saw a car on the other side of the highway with front window blown out ala MadDog.
  5. Conditions primo for snowshoes or crampons or micro spikes.
  6. DogMan had crampons on his paws all day and learned all about them and how to trust them.
  7. Shamus attacked Spanky, Spanky lost again, DogMan remained composed the other owners called their dogs (no drama).
  8. We had a very high level conversation with another lady about dog clothing particularly (Ruffwear).
  9. I saw more Aryteryx yesterday than we have seen jeans on Lafayette.
  10. Great to see G$$$ back on the trails sharing his knowledge, of crampons, microspikes, down, snowshoes, and his secret purchases of gear, new snowshoes
  11. DogMan crampons, ice axe, goggles, GEAR GEAR GEAR....
  12. Mutha thanks for the christmas gifts two have already been put to work.
  13. G$$$ thanks for getting me home in one piece the Jeep is a cross between a SUV and snowmobile, who needs winter wipers we got our fingers and hands!!!!

Mutha's Trip Report (pics here):
Well, I can honestly say that the whole thing was a blur. I remember a lot of white - and something else... hmmm... oh yeah, it started snowing.

That's about it.

Oh yeah, DogMan rocked the crampons. He went up AND down. It was like watching Nuryev getting hit by a bus.

g-$$$ let out a pre-war-whoop when his pack went all medieval on his bad shoulder, but it dwindled like a bad fuse on a damp pack of firecrackers.

tMail is the new Obama as far as Spanky is concerned. He gave her mackerel. That's fish we can believe in.

Spanky ate twice as much as I did. I'm still hungry. She took a shit the size of my head.