Never doubt Alison Aiken when it comes to figuring out which direction to go on a backcountry expedition. Last week we went out for a backcountry ski to an undisclosed location in Vermont where I skied many, many times last winter -- and where Alison joined me a couple times. I must say, things looked slightly different with this season's meager snowpack compared with last year's onslaught of snowstorms.
Regardless of what things looked like, at a certain point, the trail bends sharply to the left and backcountry skiers will continue straight up a a skin track to the where the good skiing is. Ali and I have done both in the past -- sometimes we've gone to the skiing spot and other times we've stayed on the path for what basically amounted to a walk in the woods on skis and skins.
This time, however, we got to the bend (or should a say, "a" bend, and I said I thought we should go straight. She said, no, the trail bends left here. We had a brief discussion, and went my way -- which led us all over the place... and at the same time nowhere. We did some skiing, but it just wasn't like last year.
When the trip was mostly over, we found ourselves back on the trail -- farther up from where I had led us off-trail. THIS was clearly where I had always ventured off in the past. "You didn't know that?" Ali asked. Turns out, she did now, but she was just letting the know-it-all have his way.
In the future, I will defer on all route-finding decisions.
Friday, February 10, 2012
It's never a good commentary on a winter when posts are going up in February about the first foray into the backcountry. But that's the state of affairs around here... but what the heck: we're only a month behind schedule. Last year -- a record-breaker -- we got out there on January 1st, and we couldn't believe it. I'm not saying today was quite like January 1, 2011, but it was nice to get out.
One person who was happy to be out there wasn't a person at all. Our yellow lab Oscar has been dying for this moment. Yes, he's been getting his exercise -- I have been running with him more than ever before. And while he does enjoy running, above all, he is a ski-dog. You want to see a dog having the time of his life? Check out Oscar in the woods in wintertime.
Speaking of dogs, snow, and winter, today was full of firsts: it was Gladys' first backcountry ski trip. Don't get me wrong; we didn't ski anything steep, nor did we go far. There wasn't much snow on the ground, and it hadn't snowed in a week. But it was a good introduction, and she shows all the signs of taking to our favorite (behind hockey, of course) winter pastime.
Meanwhile, we were joined by Alison, who also showed signs of loving being on skis out in the woods of Vermont. It was a beautiful day out there, there's snow in the forecast, and we are all geared up and warmed up for the remainder of winter. Bring it on, Old Man!