Saturday, February 27, 2016

Smells like beer in here

Today was spent catching up on home brewing tasks. Bottling an Irish Stout and a Belgium ale, and starting off a rye-based IPA.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Hut-to-hut Skiing in Maine

Last weekend we made a long drive to northwestern Maine to enjoy a weekend of hut-to-hut cross-country skiing.  We were a party of eight friends and we stayed at the "Maine Huts & Trails" lodges which are modern and eco-friendly places to stay - they even have hot showers!  We carried our clothes, sleeping bags and lunches, but everything else was provided at the 'off-the-grid' huts.

We arrived at the Stratton Brook hut on Friday evening after a short (~3 mile) "ski" from the trailhead.  It did not bode well as the trail was composed mostly of boiler-plate ice, along with an assortment of mud and rocks.  The weather had not been very good leading up to our arrival!  We spent the evening planning our hike back to the car the next day to pick up our hiking boots and crampons!

We awoke on Saturday morning to 4-inches of fresh sticky snow that was perfect for covering up all the imperfections in the trails.  After a hearty breakfast and re-packing our bacpacs we set off on the  ski to the Poplar Hut. The conditions were fantastic and with the right glide-wax we soon forgot our plans to dump our skis.  Instead we enjoyed a winter wonderland schuss to our luxury overnight accommodations further down the valley.

Saturday evening was spent relaxing and enjoying the home cooked hut food, and even a glass or two or beer/wine.  On Sunday we skied back to the trailhead (where we had left the car) in 35+ degree weather and we got back just in time to see the last of the recent snowfall melt in front of our eyes.

Overal, it was a great weekend and we were really lucky to have a big dump of snow on Friday night so that we could enjoy a weekend on skis with great friends.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Lonesome Lake Hut Trip

Last week we spent the weekend backpacking in the White Mountains near Lonesome Lake with our friends Paul and Anne.  We stayed Friday and Saturday nights at the AMC hut of the same name.  We enjoyed great views, clear skies, phenomenal star gazing, and excellent company.

On Saturday we hiked up the Kinsman Ridge via the Fishin' Jimmy trail and we reached the >4000' peaks of both North and South Kinsman.  The trail was quite icy and we were glad that we brought along our micro-spikes, ice axes and also crampons for the steep sections.

The hut was very well equipped and provided all that we needed.  The unheated bunk-rooms were a good test of our new winter sleeping bags. Fortunately it was warmer that our last winter hut trip when we experienced record lows at the Zealand Hut (in 2015).

On Sunday we hiked up to the summit of Cannon Mountain via the Hi-Cannon trail.  This was steeper than the trails of the previous day and even had wooden ladders up some of the steepest parts.  Needless to say this was great fun in the snow and ice.  We were back home to our chalet on Sunday in time for tea and a hot shower.

At the trailhead on Friday afternoon.

Approaching the hut before sunset on Friday

 Starting off on Saturday's hike

 Paul on the trail

Time for a short break

Glad we came well equipped for winter conditions

The sun comes out after lunch

 Sheri & Anne near the summit of North Kinsman

At the summit of South Kinsman

Great views in all directions

 Back at the hut for Saturday night

Very comfy accomodations

Chocolate cake baked at the hut!

 Ready for another day of hiking

 Sheri shows us how it is done

 On the hike back to the car

Friday, February 12, 2016

Fun on Skis and Snowboards

Winter has been elusive in New England this year with very limited snow fall, especially in the mountains of northern New England.  We did have a few fantastic days on snowboards and XC skis.

We picked a quiet Saturday  in February to ride at Bretton Woods.   Considering the amount of natural snow that has fallen, the conditions were great! On this day, Mt Washington was covered in snow, which was not the case for most of January!  The day started with mostly cloudy skies but by the end of the day skies were clear and we caught Mt Washington aglow our way back south to the Chalet on Dundee Road.

The Sunday following our trip to Bretton Woods we traveled to the East side of Mount Washington to take a ski lesson at Wildcat Mountain. We hired Jeff Lea who teaches backcountry skiing (mostly on tele skis), mountaineering and climbing skills in the White Mountains.  We wanted to learn how to make turns in the backcountry on our free-heel backcountry XC skis.  Jeff was a great instructor and although a bit skeptical to begin with, we spent the day on the lower mountain learning different techniques for negotiating turns on downhill sections of backcountry trails.  Now we just  need practice applying these skills to the much more narrow trails in the backcountry!