Sunday, January 30, 2011

Quelle Suprise, Mt. Moriah! [ 9 to go]

After a two month peakbagging layover S.D. and I were pleasantly surprised to find ourselves on the summit of Mt. Moriah. It was our first true winter summit (sure there was snow and blowing ice on Moosalauki but that was November) and the Carter-Moriah trail took us up over the ledges of Mt. Surprise which must have lovely views on a clear day. But I was happy enough that the wind wasn't blowing, it wasn't snowing and the temperature was above 0. Still, I was cold, then hot, then freezing, and all the time feeling the effects of hike-less months. After 3 hours of hiking, and feeling like I was crawling up  the hill, I turned a corner and there below my feet was the sign pointing out the side trail to the summit.

Winter summitting is a bit different. Looking for trail signs below your feet instead of above you. Walking up on the packed path, occasionally falling off the side into the 3 foot deep powder.  Seeing the alpine zone trees bending under all the snow weight, feeling the constant pressure to keep moving or freeze. Freezing your fingers only seconds after taking your gloves off to get the peanut butter sandwiches. And best of all - glisading down, which takes the Jane's Addiction song "Coming Down the Mountain" to a whole new level.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Chateau Shakedown

We took The Chateau up to Hancock Campground in the White Mountain National Forest for her first trip. We wanted to do some snowshoeing, check out the bushwhack trail to Owl's Head, and see how the Chateau would function as our Advanced Base Camp.  Would she make the 3 hour highway drive (would we?) How would she handle in the snow? Could the furnace keep us warm even when the temps fell to 19 degrees? Could we spend the night comfortably enough - keeping in mind that headroom was only 4'.?

The weather was perfect for the shakedown. Cold at night, sunny during the day. The Wilderness trail was a bit too well traveled. We really didn't need to break out the snowshoes until we took the side trail to Black Pond, but it was beautiful and the bushwhack will definitely be the way to go. After that we headed over to Franconia Falls and that too was lovely. Hiking in the snow is much more than - well, hiking in snow.  The whole world is different. Quiet. Wilder. Bluer, Whiter.

Speaking of blue. The Chateau, while not beautiful, did work out well with the exception of the furnace cutting out around midnight. So long as SD started the engine up every hour to fire it up again, and my Big Agnes Lulu sleeping bad stayed snug around me it was okay. He says its fixable so that shouldn't be a problem long term. We also need some insulating curtains - that's my job. Cooking and doing dishes, while a bit much on either the knees or the back, works fine. The upshot - being able to camp at the trailhead, with no fuss, in the winter, or anytime of year is so very sweet, and the Chateau is perfect!