Western Whites '13-'14

TRs rescued from TelemarkEast before its demise
Bob T
Posts: 170
Joined: Mon Aug 12, 2019 11:07 pm

Western Whites '13-'14

Post by Bob T » Wed Aug 14, 2019 2:10 pm

Veg and Cooper

Dog one. When he's going full-tilt in fresh snow where you can measure, his paw prints are grouped in intervals with something like ten feet between them. He seriously hauls.
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Dog two. Not as fast.
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It snowed about 5-6" near 2000' in my neighborhood, 2" 1000' below that, and just spritzed down by the river. Psyched about Wednesday.

Bob T
Posts: 170
Joined: Mon Aug 12, 2019 11:07 pm

Princess and Monster

Post by Bob T » Wed Aug 14, 2019 2:12 pm

Went out last night with the princess and the monster. Snow covered princess.
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Monster. Notice snow depth.
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The P. and the M. check in. BTW, the remote xmas lights are finally out! I was beginning to wonder if I was getting punked by Duracell.
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Skiing down. I concur with Drop. Here in the WW we've still got fluff on stuff below 2000'. Above is better.
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Group portrait. Cooper is amazingly invisible.
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Bonus quiver shot. Sorry, this is gratuitous, but I'm pretty excited about being able to take the Chargers out for a spin!
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Bob T
Posts: 170
Joined: Mon Aug 12, 2019 11:07 pm

TR - Lucy

Post by Bob T » Wed Aug 14, 2019 2:12 pm

The day started inauspiciously. Veg, my Lab, who has never thrown up in a car before threw up TWICE on the way to the TH! A combination of being excited and frost heaves I guess. One was a direct hit on the center console. Disgusting. We dropped a car on the other side of the ridge, B drove us around, and we we're off. Bon voyage.
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The soft afternoon light was fading ahead of snow from a coastal storm.
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Finally we gained the ridge.
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Clouds were piling up in the south.
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It was time to head off trail toward our objective: a 500' vert waterfall/slide. I call it Lucy. I've been chasing this descent for 5 years ever since someone sent me a picture of it from across the valley. It looked intriguing. I've spent a lot of time getting lost, running out of daylight, and simply not finding it over the past few seasons.

We went into massive thicketeering mode. About 20 minutes into the thrash an internal "idiot" light came on. "BENIGHTED" it blinked. Initially I tried to ignore it. I tried to relax into my original plan to ski down into the belly of the sub-drainage looking for the Lucy. It wasn't going very well. It dawned on me that the deeper we went while burning daylight the more possible it was that we were actually going to get stuck there for the night. I got a compass out and tried not to get turned around. The chest strap of my pack busted off squeezing through a spruce prison. Branches were snapping. The dog was whimpering. Even though we were supposed to be going downhill at one point we started climbing. I began going through a checklist of what we were going to do if we needed to hunker down for the night. It was that bad.

Then the forest opened up. Now at least it was easy to make progress. Progress to where though? Progress, it turned out, right to the mouth of the slide! I couldn't believe it. We had accidentally navigated right to the top. It was like a road in the forest. We drove down it. It started off with a reasonable slope.
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Then a series of ice bulges began. Thank goodness there was a solid foot of stable snow to drop into. Veg was not into the drops.
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Veg got stuck above one of the larger drops. I was 50' vertical below him. I tried to yell up encouragement. No va. It was getting dark. At one point in frustration I yelled out "I SHOULD NOT HAVE BROUGHT MY DOG HERE!"
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I dismounted, climbed back up, and got him.
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I fed him lots of treats and told him he was a good boy while internally I was kicking myself.
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He then kind of got the idea that he could go over the falls and not get hurt. Phew.
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Meanwhile, I was really enjoying the descent!
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I got to the bottom and whooped it up. It's a lovely insane line.
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Of course the bottom is nowhere near a trail, let alone the car. A slog/shwack in the dark took place. I was REALLY happy to find the collector trail that traverses that side of the drainage. It was untracked and I couldn't quite believe it was for real. Even though it was clearly a trail I kept fearing that it would just peter out into a bunch of spruce. Like someone put in hundreds of yards of trail that dead-ended as a practical joke. I was cold, hungry, and tired, and it had begun to snow. The trail didn't end. We kept it together and eventually got to a broken out trail and a while after that the car appeared. Veg and I shared a turkey sandwich. The stereo played an inspired shuffle in tribute to Lucy on the ride home.
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Bob T
Posts: 170
Joined: Mon Aug 12, 2019 11:07 pm

TR – Pemi Traverse – Attempt One

Post by Bob T » Wed Aug 14, 2019 2:15 pm

The first leg of the tour started with a 6 mile ski into Zealand. Crossing 302 to start.
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Our group of 8 had a lot of awesome sauce. Some folks I've known and toured with for a long time. Some I had never been out with before. They're all great people. A pleasure to hang out with.
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Thursday, as you might recall, was a beautiful day. Even boring old Zealand Rd. was a treat.
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The weather and terrain shifted as we approached the hut.
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Trailside pagan totems.
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The final climb to the hut.
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The Pemi stretches out before us! One heck of a front porch.
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First things first after arriving at Zealand - check out the neighborhood!
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The last time I was out here the falls had just blown out to rock. Not this time.
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I deliberately skied in on T2s/Vectors due to the possibility that the falls were in.
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And they were - plenty of snow.
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The hut was packed that evening. A group of 15 kids arrived from the AMC's Youth Opportunities Program. They had undertaken an epic 8-hour slog from the Highland Center via the A-Z trail.
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The AMC winter self-service huts provide propane, stove, spices, water, cookware, and table settings.
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You bring the food, they've got the rest covered.
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Meanwhile outside it had begun snowing,
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It was warm inside though. We ate dinner and played Banangrams with a bunch of people we had just met and had a great evening.
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The next morning I rolled out of bed just after 6 and quietly got my gear together and skied down to the Ethan Pond trail while everyone was still asleep. I wanted to check out the conditions and make sure we could easily break trail.
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It was warm out. The snow had changed to sleet. I stopped and stripped down to a base layer and had a breakfast snack and some water. I contemplated what was about to be a really big day skiing out to Lincoln Woods - something like 14 miles. I checked my internal dashboard. All systems were go. The weather, even if it deteriorated to rain as forecast, was workable. The trail was easily broken out rolling on the little balls of sleet. I felt good. I knew that if I wanted to do this on my own that I could, but this wasn't a solo tour. Whether I could convince the group to go for it was another matter.
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I returned to the hut and reported my findings. Crap! Folks were not happy about the weather. The contrast of the toasty warm hut and the sleet outside was not helping my cause. The rest of the group voted to return the way we came in.
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And so we did.
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The journey out was fast. We went on the "Spruce Goose" trail which parallels Zealand Rd.
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It was a lovely tour, but I'll be back. There's so much amazing terrain out there!
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Bob T
Posts: 170
Joined: Mon Aug 12, 2019 11:07 pm

Pemi Traverse Conditioning

Post by Bob T » Wed Aug 14, 2019 2:16 pm

Went out on an 11 mile/1400 ft vertical moonlight (barely) tour with the zogs this evening. The forest road is in pretty good shape right now.
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The 3-legged little one lasted for 8+ miles before she got stuffed into the pack.
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With Coops on my back we did the final 3 miles in 10 minutes because it's downhill. Veg kept up for most of it.
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Thank goodness we had cell coverage half way through the tour so I could call mission control and let her know we were going to be late!
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We did 8.8 miles on Saturday. Trying to work up to 14 which is the maximum out and back we can do on this trail. The 14 mile version contains an additional 700+ feet of climbing for extra suffering points.

Bob T
Posts: 170
Joined: Mon Aug 12, 2019 11:07 pm

]TR - So Falls Witchita Falls

Post by Bob T » Wed Aug 14, 2019 2:18 pm

Do you know what D.S.T stands for? Daylight Skiing Time! Got into the car at 5 and started driving nervously toward what was going to be a personal first descent. Was thinking "damn, headlamps again." Then I looked up at the sun. Hey! There was plenty of light left! Oh YEAH, the clocks! D.S.T. Duh.

I was in tears pulling into the TH parking lot. Spindrift filling the air, winds howling. I love winter.
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It was cold out! Pulled up the hood on my middle layer and put the helmet on over that. Toasty head at least. And then into the woods. What's this?! Someone had already poached the line! At least the trail was broken out. Thank you mystery skier dude.
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Up.
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Looking down from the top.
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I had at least four of "those moments". Weightless. Like kissing Gina Pelliccio in a closet in 7th grade. Only better. The pictures don't even get close.
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Back at the car safe and sound, but with a frozen nose.
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The drive home was sublime.
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Thank you Gina - I mean - Witchita Falls.
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Bob T
Posts: 170
Joined: Mon Aug 12, 2019 11:07 pm

Pemi Traverse Conditioning II

Post by Bob T » Wed Aug 14, 2019 2:19 pm

The dogs and I went on an 11.4 mile tour up Zealand Rd/trail. It was getting late and was cold as heck so we u-turned at the meadows. Could see the hut about a mile away.
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I left a lot of stuff out of the pack in case Cooper needed to get stuffed into it. That was stupid. It was dangerously cold. No more tours with dogs when it's this cold.
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The snow is ok up there. A little bit of a crust, but not much and all of the underlying snow is dry.
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Bob T
Posts: 170
Joined: Mon Aug 12, 2019 11:07 pm

TR - Journey to Ixtlan

Post by Bob T » Wed Aug 14, 2019 2:20 pm

7am and snowing. Striding uphill. Fat uncambered ski bottoms slap time in an inch of dry powder on a packed, well-travelled trail.  Clip clop.  The snow sheds quickly from the top sheets which I'm thankful for.  It's going to be a long day that doesn't need a sticky snow sub-plot.

About a mile in I come out of what has been a month long preparation tunnel for this tour and begin to look around.  It's beautiful!  Individual snow flakes change course around each other mixing with the gray sky.  Gaps in the trees reveal a sleeping river.  I actually sing out loud for a little while.  Then exertion consumes the excess energy and I quiet down into a sustainable pace.

Miles go by.  The new snow is perfect.  Crisp for a quick traction bite.  Cold for a fast glide.
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I'm familiar with the first part of this tour, but am soon in terra incognita which is thrilling.  As it opens up I open. 
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I see the watershed that holds the crux of this journey for the first time in my life.
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The sun streams through the last snow being squeezed out of the sky by a cold front.  With only 2 liters of water I'm counting on this.  Water conservation is easier when it's cold.
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At the height of land for the day I get a glimpse of the start of the super juicy heart of this trip through the forest: a waterfall.  A series of little accidents then unfolds.  I'm so excited by the first real downhill of the day that I forget to flip the tour/ski switch on the bindings.  Skiing down the trail leading to the falls the bottom section of one of my poles falls off which has never happened to me in hundreds of miles of touring. Stopping in surprise I almost crash due the binding setting.  While looking back up the trail for the lost pole section I feel water dripping down my leg!  The hydration bladder mouthpiece is jammed open in its pocket.  Wow.  What a welcome! The forward momentum of the morning and the whole project is brought to a stop.  I fix the leak, retrieve the pole, throw the downhill switch on the bindings and ski to the top of the falls smiling nervously.  Who are you?
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There's a trail here that skirts the river.  And then there's the falls and the river beyond.  A decision to make.  

I gather up my courage and address the river/falls out loud. Do I have permission to ski you?  Will you let me pass?  I tune into the environment for all I'm worth turning up my receivers to max.  The answer I get is sad.  The answer is that my receivers don’t work.  I'm just a visitor to this realm and don't speak its language at all.  I'm freaking blind and deaf in a beautiful/dangerous place.  This is humbling.  Sometimes humility is the best we can do.  Feeling like I greeted something and left some arrogance and speed at the gate, I enter and ski down the falls.
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What happens in the next two miles changes the day entirely.  The project falls away.  I feel - to use a word - lost.  Not literally.  Not despair.  More like in awe and gone.  
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Awe mixed with the reality of breaking trail in bottomless!
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Fatigue drives me to the nearby trail.  A section of it has tracks.  They last about a quarter mile where I disagree with their route.  It turns out they know something I don’t and I get my ass handed to me in the next bit of "trail".  Apparently this is part of the initiation for this place.
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I don’t say goodbye when I leave the river. The day and the miles continue punctuated by drinks of water, distant snow-covered peaks, and a sandwich. I watch the river through the trees from the trail. As is sometimes the case with these trips, part of me doesn’t come home.
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Bob T
Posts: 170
Joined: Mon Aug 12, 2019 11:07 pm

TR - Bear Gully with a Lime Ice Chaser

Post by Bob T » Wed Aug 14, 2019 2:21 pm

Took TM's advice and went out for a tour on the still dry snow yesterday.

Up.
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Top.
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Prep.
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Go!
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Christmas tree pinball.
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Possible linked turns.
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Rest stop.
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Then over to a neighboring slide which Irene created. This might be an FD.
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Climbing.
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Here we go!
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Glad we got all of that out of the way. Now for the fun. Swoopy.
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Over the river and through the woods.
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Zoom.
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Whoops. Out of light.
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Had a lot of fun once it got dark. Was no longer worried about it getting dark!
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The mountain brook skiing by headlamp was a blast.
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OK. Out of gravity. Time to return to the car. Turn on the slog-o-drive. Plenty of training for that recently.

Pond crossing.
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Then to finish it all off a daring nighttime navigation of a part of the forest that in the past I knew really well. First step. Climb to the magic contour. This guy seemed to be going in that direction...
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Follow coyote to a known landmark in the otherwise undifferentiated forest. So far so good. Ummm. Then my navigation mojo dissolved. Thank goodness I had cell coverage and could text B. cheerful little messages about "making slow off trail progress". Which - don't tell anyone - is code for being lost.
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Ended up emerging from the forest far from where I wanted to, but made it to the car and back home only 2 hours late. Mission accomplished. :mrgreen:

Bob T
Posts: 170
Joined: Mon Aug 12, 2019 11:07 pm

Drop, Russ, Cooper, and Veg

Post by Bob T » Wed Aug 14, 2019 2:22 pm

Earned turns with Drop, Russ, Cooper, and Veg at the Dartmouth Skiway this evening. We almost had a couple of other T-Easters. Next time I hope we do.
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Jet ski! Drop's Havocs projected a wicked rooster tail.
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Backwards.
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Viewage.
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