Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Wishicouldtellya Glades

Working title: Ski not where there are other tracks, make your own

The past couple of weeks have been a whirlwind! I've leased a small apartment in North Conway, and have given notice at my place in Portland. Who would have thought I'd have two apartments, even if it's only for a month! So the moving, and accompanying packing and throwing/giving away unused things has commenced. There has also been skiing, and some pretty good skiing at that. Since I apparently had the disposable income, I also picked up a brand new pair of skis, more on them in the second part.

Into the Wishicouldtellya Glades: 2/26/15

Peak: Mt. Wishicouldtellya

Trails: *redacted*, *redacted*, bushwhack

Mileage/gain: ~7.5 miles, ~2300' of gain

New redlining miles: 2.4 (ooo, what trail?)

A typical sleepless Wednesday came, and I had an afternoon appointment to look at the aforementioned apartment. I headed up early and finally finished off the Doublehead Ski Trail, which was in decent shape, but far from ideal. A little powder on the edges, and some soft spots, but overall very skied up. I also had my heavy touring gear, since I was getting the lighter setup tuned... so that sucked a bit.

Fast forward to an early Thursday morning, and it was a lot more cloudy than forecast. Mike was unable to join me, due to a back tweak the day before, so I hit a very quiet Sunrise Shack, then headed north. That's about the last directional cue you're going to get out of me.

Undisclosed location, weak colors

I got myself parked in the empty lot, and after gearing up, I clicked in and headed down the trail on a well packed snowshoe track. This didn't last long, as a short distance later the packed trail bore right, leaving my trail of choice straight ahead, and unbroken. There were some visual remnants of an old track (no firmness below the surface), but visual remnants don't make trail breaking any easier. Sinking in 6-12 inches (to start) with each step, I stopped often trying to get into a rhythm that was always just out of reach. Climbing up old logging roads (and occasionally crossing them), the trail soon steepened a bit as it climbed toward the high col flanked by the glades. The sun played behind the clouds, visible through them, but providing nothing in the way of warmth.

Deep ice and snow on this stream

Follow that old road


Faint track, still deep

Corridor, turned out to be a fun little descent

The open woods and sporadic blazing near the top led me off trail a couple of times, but I was always able to correct. Passing through one junction, I continued downhill a moment to the second, and turning uphill, I started into heaven. It had been more than two years since I'd been through these glades, and while I remembered that they were there, I didn't remember just how expansive and gorgeous they were. In my defense, it was late fall, and I happened through them in the middle of a long day hike. Excuses. I soon lost the trail, and started angling up through the birches.

High col


Opening up


The higher I climbed, the deeper the snow. To this point my skis had cooperated, but lo and behold, in the deepest of the deep, one ski decided to pre-release. I got it back on without too much trouble, and continued onward. Much to my surprise, I caught sight of a blaze, and found myself back on the trail as I neared the top of the glades. I ended up following (fighting to stay on) the trail to the top of the mountain, and its restricted views, which would be a dead giveaway if I were to post them! Returning to the top of the glades, I cut off my skintrack, and found a proper spot to take a break.

Here the snow lay in deep silent repose. If it had been tracked previously this winter, there was no sign of it. Once again, I had issues with the bindings not locking down my heel, but I soon got it sorted out, and made my run. The snow was very deep (knee +) and not really consolidated, making for some difficulty getting my narrow skis to turn. What turns I did make were pretty damn incredible. The mistake I made was not crossing my own skintrack, as there was plenty to be had below it, and cutting to the south. Sadly, this put a premature end to the steeper bits, and ended with me straight-lining down into the spruce that line the high col. Skins back on and a bit of whacking later, I came back upon my track at the second junction. Since it was cold and I was alone, I opted to get out of there and return another day.

I may have made a turn or two

Back up to the height of land and out of the col, I took the skins off and got a really fun narrow downhill run to within about a mile of the trailhead, at which point it became an exercise in futility to try and get there without skins. Sadly, in this mile, my bindings pre-released no less than 6 times. Only slightly infuriating.

I'm glad I kept this one in my back pocket, and waited to check it out. It exceeded my expectations, and will be a popular powder destination in the future (for me anyway... if you can hack it, you're welcome to come with).

A week passed, and I returned: 3/6/15

With no (very little) new snow in the week prior, I couldn't resist the pull of the glades. In the intervening time, I'd tried to mount the new bindings I bought on the K2's, and ran into trouble. When I brought them into the ski shop, they said they could re-drill the toe piece to get everything to fit correctly... but I'd been doing some research into new skis. Long story short, I walked out (not that day of course) having gotten a fantastic deal on a new pair of DPS Wailer 99's. I got to take them out for some resort runs at Cranmore, skiing for a few hours in warm temps and softening snow with Ashley. Needless to say I had to reteach myself how to ski, or rather how to ski on these particular boards. They're a lot of ski, and are going to take some getting used to.

With that out of the way, I got together with my friend Radley, who I'd only hiked with once, and hadn't seen since then! He needed a place to crash for the night and wanted to get in some skiing the next day... and I so happened to have a floor. There will be no couch-surfing, since I have no couch.

Up early, we headed for the glades after some breakfast. I had a bright idea to try and get into the glade from below, instead of coming at it from the trail. It appeared that my skintrack hadn't been touched since the prior week, and that made me smile as we started up. At a likely spot, I took a compass bearing, and off trail we went. My bright idea turned out to not be so bright, as we ran into lots of undergrowth, not conducive to skiing up or down. That and the snow was super deep, as expected. We did see what looked like a fairly recent snowshoe track in this thicker section, which was surprising, but we never saw it again. After some toil we entered the glades partway up, and ran across the remnants of my skintrack, which we followed for a bit, but lost just as quickly. We skinned up to the top of the glade, and got to taking a break in the sun. The weather was indeed on our side, bluebird skies, and a warmth to the sun that's been missing since the fall.

My week old tracks


Clicking in (and not having any issues with it!) we got started down. It was however NOT my best skiing, by a long shot. Apparently I need more resort days to get used to the new boards. My first fall landed me in an awkward position, and it took a moment to get back on my feet. The second one was more catastrophic, as I got launched out of my bindings, and ended up mired in a bush. Some thrashing, swearing, and eventually righting myself, I found the snow was up to my chest. I'm sure all of this was much to Radley's amusement, considering he didn't fall once. Gathering my skis, I ended up having to push myself up, straddle my skis, and then stand up on them... just to click back in! A struggle to say the least. I did make some good turns, but my two instances of operator error shook my confidence a bit. Note to self: don't fall. At the very least, we skied the full extent of the glade that I had missed the prior week. Skinning back up, we found my old skintrack, and came right out at the junction and started out on the trail.


It's pretty nice up here

There was a LOT of moose activity on and around the trail, their tracks and bedding areas criss-crossing and sometimes following the corridor up near the col. Taking the skins back off, we made a fun run down the narrow upper section of trail. I'm pretty sure we skied out further than I had, but not by much. The flat skin out was just alright, and we made it back to the car in good spirits.

Moose mucking around

Thanks Radley for not only joining me, but for being my first "couch" surfer, I hope to ski/hike with you again soon!

So with that, it's a wrap. This is the last entry I'll be publishing from Portland, and it's somewhat of a bittersweet goodbye. Having grown up right next door, and having lived in the great state of Maine all my life, it's going to be an interesting adjustment. I'll still be down here during my work "week", but my off days will be spent where I want to be. A small step, but a beginning nonetheless.

Here's to new beginnings (even if they're only partial), and perhaps more timely trip reports!

1 comment:

  1. Yup, pretty soon you'll be quitting your job and joining Northeast Mountaineering...