Sunday, February 15, 2015

Zealand Falls Hut

We celebrated Valentine's Day with a ski trip to the Zealand Falls Hut.  We departed on Friday afternoon under clear blue skies with a temperature of +1F at the parking area at Route 302.  We took pause given the forecast for blizzard-like conditions and subzero temperatures predicted for the weekend.  We both agreed we were prepared, so we snapped on our skis and hoisted our packs onto our backs filled with our gear and food for the weekend.

Skiing to the Zealand Trail from Route 302.

We skied along the Zealand Falls access road through a camping area and eventually taking the Zealand Falls Trail to the hut. The skies remained clear through sunset, thankfully, as were officially benighted arriving at the hut by headlamp.  This of course was after a bit of back-tracking to find the trail to the hut, which requires a strenuous assault in your boots the final 600ft while carrying skis and poles.

Upon arrival we were greeted by the caretaker who was happy to have a few guests (we were the only ones at that point) and soon another fellow arrived on snowshoes. The hut was pretty chilly with temperatures dipping well into negative double digits on Friday night.  The ice on the inside of the windows of the bunkroom made us glad we had brought the warmest and heaviest sleeping bags we owned.  We prepared a quick meal including the infamous chocolate hut-cake that we made at the Betty Bear Hut in Colorado during our trip with Brandon and Kerry in celebration of Kerry's Birthday.

Saturday morning was clear, but soon filled in with light snow and low cloud. We spent the morning at the hut getting our bearings and planning our day.  Once we realized there the fire was not lit in the hut during the day, we realized the best way to warm up was to head out for a ski.  We skied along the Appalachian Trail to Thoreau Falls enjoying lots of powder and occasional views to the valley below.

View from Zealand Hut

Keeping warm in the hut - preparing for Saturday's ski
Headed to Thoreau Falls

Skiing back to the hut along the AT

We arrived back at the hut to find the woodstove blazing, and a hut full of skiers and a few who came on snow shoes.  A group of 18 provided the entertainment for the evening.  They arrived in droves, pulling sleds filled with extra wood (they knew of the situation with no fire during the day, so they brought their own wood for a fire in the morning).  They also brought Valentine's Day d├ęcor, a red and white table cloth, heart shaped napkins, candles, and wine glasses.  One fellow wore boxers with hearts over his long-johns!  As the evening wore on we were invited to stay for the Mexican meal the following night as they had extra food; they apologized that they would not have enough sombreros for us!  Apparently this is an annual affair for this group. We heard tales of previous trips which included a Hawaiian luau (grass skirts and all) and dinner followed by ballroom dancing (tuxes and strapless dresses of course).  And here we were cutting off the ends of our toothbrushes to save on weight!
Relaxing Saturday night in the hut

We woke on Sunday to partly sunny skies that eventually cleared to bright sunny skies.  We skied home via the Spruce Goose Trail which was a delight. We had plenty of fresh snow, lightly tracked by a few skiers ahead of us.  The trail offers lots of ups and downs with a few downhills to keep things exciting as it winds through a scenic spruce forest.
Bruno on the Spruce Goose Trail


Overall we were very pleased with the weekend. The conditions for skiing were fantastic and in the end, aside from some very cold temperatures in the bunkhouse and outhouse, the weather was great for skiing. We had clear skies and sunshine skiing both in and out, so we did pretty well for a "stormy weekend".

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Life in the snow

Our monthly trip to the dump is a little more challenging with a foot of snow on the ground.