Monday, March 14

Part II: The Trail South…

Day 3Start/end/time    8:15 – 12:10   3:55
Distance/ascent/pace 9.4      +789/-440   2.4 mph

Yesterday the Rangers told us the forecast was for 6” to 8” of new snow on a southerly wind.  We figured the earlier we got going the better off we would be.  We knew the trail would be generally good as the Rangers routinely run their sled and big tote down as far as Russell Pond to keep it open.

I woke at 6 AM sore and stiff from 2 days of hard skiing.  Breakfast was oatmeal and tea, fast and easy.  Air temp at 14* with new snow falling already.  Waxed up and extended kick zone with Green then added Blue underfoot for stickiness on the steeper pitches.  Outside the moose was still about, but had finished the first R. Pine and had move to start the second.  We had to take some obligatory moose photos before starting out.  We were heading out across the lake at 8AM.

Wind driven snow was in our face as we crossed to the south end.  Not bad at first, light snow and maybe 20+ mph headwind.  By the time we entered Upper South Branch Pond the snow was coming harder and the wind increased to up over 30 mph.  Strong enough to stop my dead in my tracks several times but still tolerable.   By Pogey Pond the snow was going sideways and the wind was gusting to 40 mph.  We had whiteout conditions the entire crossing with visibility less than 100 yards. 

From Pogey Pond the trail climbs rather steeply for 1.5 miles.  On two of the steepest pitches, I pulled my skis and walked.  It was just too much work to try and muscle my way up.  Jim and Bart had no problems with their waxless BC skis – I was very envious to say the least.

We made Russell Pond before noon and because the conditions had deteriorated further, Jim suggested we fill all our water jugs now and save another trip.  Very smart move.  With 12 liters in hand we struck off for the final crossing.  By this point the sustained winds were over 30 mph and most gusts were near 50.

  Half way across a particularly strong gust knocked me flat – one instant I’m struggling to make progress and the BAM!  I’m in the snow.  Looking back I see Bart had been flattened too.  Several more rogue gusts tried to do the same but I was more prepared. 

Once in the cabin we got a fire going and began drying all our gear.  As we busied ourselves with warm food, fire and dry clothes our attention kept going back to the other party (the one’s with the sleds).  We knew from the conditions it was going to be hard for them.  There was over 8” new snow by the time we arrived, meaning the later in the day they traveled, the more snow they had to deal with – not to mention the wind.  Eventually they arrived.  Took them over 7 hours to cover what we did in under 4.  Glad we didn’t bring sleds!

1 comment:

Caratunk Girl said...

Holy crap!! What was up with that moose? That is crazy!!!!