Sunday, March 20, 2011

Winter on the Secret-Lamoille Trail

I wasn't into the big time commitment necessary for a ski tour today, and so decided to go for a quick winter hike on the under-construction Secret-Lamoille Trail. What a nice change of pace!

I was gratified to see a lot of tracks on the trail - it's clearly getting steady winter use, which just goes to validate the years of work I and others put into getting this project off the ground. It makes sense, though - not everybody wants to use a motor for winter fun, and not everybody is a backcountry skier. An accessible lower-elevation trail like this is going to see use by folks who want to get out and enjoy the winter mountains in a low-commitment kind of way.

Right now, the trail surface varies between mud, frozen mud and snow. It's quite walkable, but if you have the option go early in the morning to enhance the chance that you'll be walking on a frozen trail surface. It'll be easier walking and better for the trail. Snowshoes are no longer necessary.

The trail is very easy to find for about the first 1.5 miles, where the GBI crews left off working last summer. After that, the line is still very much there but it's a little harder to locate in spots. If you're up there and can't see where the trail goes, look behind you. The difficult-to-find places were, by and large, undefined switchbacks.

The views up there in the winter are astounding, even with a little spindrift thrown in for fun.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

So where the hell have you been lately?!?!?

Skiing, that's where.

Ruby Mountain Ski Days

Ruby Mountain Ski Days started out as nothing more than a place for me to upload photos. I and several of my friends used to post trip reports over on Telemark Tips - it was a great way to share photos, ideas, updates on conditions, etc. Unfortunately, the TTips photo server went down and if we wanted to post photos they had to be linked from a non-TTips url. Thus, Ruby Mountain Ski Days.

It's kind of taken on a life of its own as Google Analytics tells me that people are visiting pretty regularly. Don't know why, there are much better places out there to find local ski photos and info on conditions, including the website for Ruby Mountain Heli-Ski. But hey, if people are interested in lurking and watching the backcountry ski adventures of a slow 50-year-old woman, well, I'm not going to argue. I put it out there after all.

I will admit, though, that the pictures are pretty good.


Trail update - they're all covered with snow - duh! Bring your skis or snowshoes. ;) The road's closed at its usual winter closure place, just past Pete's Corner. The snow on the road is very whooped out from all the snowmobile traffic right now, which is usual for this time of year. Snowshoes are NOT necessary for a hike up the road right now. The snow is OK for XC skiing, as long as you don't mind dealing with the whoops.

You can also take your touring skis up Right Fork. The jeep tracks have enough coverage for short tours, and you can always make your way across the creek and through the willows up above the Scout Camp. Be aware that the climbers right wall does slide, so if you head up that way have an eye to avalanche conditions.

The first couple of miles of the Secret-Lamoille Trail are quite suitable for snowshoeing right now, and there have been snowshoe tracks on it on several occasions. A friend of mine told me recently that it was an excellent snowshoeing day trip. I've been focusing on skiing recently and haven't broken out the snowshoes, but on high avalanche danger days (like today) it's a good winter workout alternative. Might just head up there myself today. ;)