Monday, February 28, 2005

Broadmoor Wildlife Sanctuary - February 26

It occurred to me late last week that I don't need to go north to snowshoe. There are a couple of places close to home with trails suitable for snowshoeing. The trick is setting aside the time to go.

Amy was going to be busy at least part of Saturday sorting fruit for a chorus fundraiser, so I decided I'd head to the Broadmoor Wildlife Sanctuary (5 miles, and 10 minutes from home). This required renewing my Audobon membership which had expired.

Saturday morning dawned bright, and a bit cold. I suited up - long undies top and bottom, ski pants, fleece vest, windbreaker (it wasn't _that_ cold) - and packed up - mittens, fleece hat, head band, baseball cap, sun glasses (I really need to acquire googles), turtle fur (fleece tube that's worn in place of a scarf and face mask), water, snacks (nuts, dried fruit, chocolate), camera, extra batteries, car keys (to Amy's car since she was going to need mine to lug fruit around), wallet, snowshoes and poles - and headed off to Broadmoor.

A full 14 minutes after leaving home (stop lights), I pulled into the parking lot. After checking in at the Nature Center, I strapped on the snowshoes and headed out toward the Indian Brook trail. The patterns on the snow as the trail crosses an open field were fascinating. Most were old snowshoe prints filled in by the small snow storm we had a couple days earlier. I did see deer prints as well.

After crossing the field, the trail heads downhill toward Indian Brook. Along the way I saw one skier, a solo walker, and a small group of walkers. I've spent just enough time snowshoeing in places that prohibit walking on the trails that I'm always amazed to see people trudging along a snowy trail in boots. I had to remind myself that Broadmoor doesn't limit access based on footwear. Later in the day I did have to bite my tongue when I was passed by a man in penny loafers. Broadmoor isn't backwoods by any stretch of the imagination (I don't think you're ever more than 1/2 mile from houses) but penny loafers in wet snow just isn't too smart.

At the point where the trail crosses Indian Brook (as far as I'd ever been on this trail) I crossed the brook (after a brief shoe tightening) stopping on the bridge to take this picture. This put me on the Glacial Hill trail. As I mentioned, I've never explored this trail before. I was expecting a hill of some sort but all I found were gentle rises and gentle drops. It did feel like I was much further removed from civilization than I actually was. The only sounds were the wind in the trees, occasional bird calls, and the gentle ringing of the zipper pull on my back pack.

About mid-way on the section of the trail I traversed I spotted a woodpecker high in a tree. I wasn't bird watching, but the bright red on the bird's head caught my eye. The bird proved elusive and I wasn't able to get a picture of it. I can't even note what variety it was, 'cause I haven't looked it up in our bird book yet.

I took a short detour onto the western edge of the Marsh trail to a rock outcropping which features a bench which makes a very nice spot for a break. I did have to bushwhack to avoid what looks to be a recent mostly fallen tree - it's stuck on another tree with only about 3 feet of clearance underneath. Then it was back to the Glacial Hill trail.

At the east end of the Glacial Hill trail I turned north and descended the steepest part of the hill (which isn't very steep) to the edge of the Mill Pond where I took a break on the stone bridge, and had a lot of fun taking pictures of the ice formations on the waterfall side of the bridge.

From there I proceeded along a portion of the Mill Pond trail past yet another waterfall, and the site of my only snowshoeing accident (2 years ago - caught the end of a snowshoe on a rock and jammed my thumb when I caught myself with my pole.) to the Marsh trail. From here I could see the Nature Center, my first glimpse of civilization since I'd headed out.

There were unidentified animal track on the marsh, and the sound of small planes overhead. I took advantage of the relatively new boardwalk across one edge of the marsh (okay for snowshoeing due to the 3 inches of snow on top, before heading up the final hill.

When I got to the car, I was very startled to discover I'd been out for almost 3 hours. Particularly, when I figured out that the entire trip was only about 1 1/4 mile. However, unlike the groomed trails at the XC centers, there are no groomed trails at the Sanctuary, and I did a lot of trail breaking.

I was also dismayed to discover that my boots have lost most of what little waterproofness they ever had. I'm definitely going to have to do something about that before heading out again.

President's Day Weekend

The snowshoe site for Sunday, February 20th, was Great Glen Trails Outdoor Center (, conveniently located just up the road from Wildcat. After dropping off the skiers I proceeded to the lodge. Parking was secured conveniently close to the entrance. I quickly acquired my trail pass and a trail map, and plotted out my day.

After traversing the convenient tunnel under Route 16, I discovered that the afformentioned plan was not to be. Unclear on the trail map was the lack of direct connection from the tunnel to the south (Wildcat) side of the trails. Access to that end of the trails requires either a 2km jaunt through the north side of the trail system, or as I discovered at the end of the day hitching a ride with the tubing shuttle. (They also have a tubing hill.)

So, off I went to the north basically making up my route as I went along. Views of the Toon were spectacular, the trails were uncrowded, and the day spectacular. At about the 1.5km mark I took a short break at the top of the tubing hill, including a short visit to the heated yurt (tent complete with wood stove) and porta-potty (oddly enough labelled with my last name – guess some distant relative is in the porta-potty business), and a change of head gear.

After once again purusing the trail map I decided to venture off the groomed trails, and explore a back country trail called Outback, with the intent of doubling back to the tubing hill on a switchback called Hiccup (more on that in a minute). Outback proved to be a nice wooded, snowshoe only trail partway up a ridge (about 400 feet of vertical climb). While slightly more climbing than I’d originally intended, it was superb – heavily wooded, quiet enough to hear the trees cracking in the cold, secluded (I didn’t see anyone else for about an hour – for those who are concerned I carry a high decible whistle with me), and for the most part well marked.

Upon reaching the southern end of the trail, having missed the Hiccup switchback (maybe the trail wasn’t as well marked as I thought) I discovered how Plunge got it’s name. When I regained my footing after leaving my mark on the mountain, I managed to traverse the last 60 feet of incline without incident.

Earlier intentions to partake of the tubing hill were abandoned due to crowding, hunger, and no desire to climb up anything else.

After a quick bowl of soup in the lodge, I reconnoitered with the skiers at Wildcat.

All in all a great day –
Final calculations on distance are still to be determined but it’s about 6km distance, 400 ft vertical.

Bear Notch - February 5th

I don't have any pictures from Bear Notch Ski Touring Center ( I struck up a short conversation with a gentleman named Bob while fastening my snowshoes, and ended up snowshoeing with him and stopping for photos just didn't happen.

Bear Notch is in Bartlett, New Hampshire just 3 miles north of the Attitash ski area. The day started at the Highlands Inn in Bethlehem, where Amy and I were enjoying a 4 night stay for our (original) anniversary. (22 years on Feb 5). When we left the Inn we were expecting that Amy would meet up with Fritz and Inga from the KSC at Attitash. The drive was uneventful, since the day was a crisp, clear, postcard perfect New Hampshire day. After dropping Amy off at Attitash I headed back north to Bear Notch.

The "lodge" at Bear Notch is quite a contrast with the modern lodge at Bretton Woods. Bretton Woods has a fancy gift shop, and cafe and comes complete with locker rooms with showers. The lodge at Bear Notch is an old farm house (tickets and rentals) and barn (snack bar). The men's restroom is a porta-potty in the driveway. The parking lot was a challenge to walk on reminiscent of the closed section of the Perimeter trail at BW 2 days earlier.

After acquiring my ticket and a small amount of advise from the attendant, I headed across Rt 302 to the more level section of trails. I was very pleased to find a picnic table near the start of the trails. It's so much easier to get the snow shoes on with the aid of a bench. That's where I was when I met Bob. We had a nice walk that mostly followed trails 12 and 13, with a short stint on 16. I had a nice conversation with Bob, although I would have liked quiet time as well.

I ended up cutting the day short, after two stops for shoe related problems. The first to tighten my boot, the second to check on a pain on my left heal which turned out to be a blister. Unfortunately, I didn't have a bandaid in my bag. I did get it cleaned up and bandaged when I got back to the car (and it's all gone now).

I'll definitely visit Bear Notch again. The trails were nice and secluded (as opposed to the golf course hugging trails at Bretton Woods). They've also got a pretty good variety of trails, over more than 60km.

Bretton Woods Nordic - February 3rd

Took this on February 3rd at the Bretton Woods Nordic Center. This was taken on the Perimeter trail. If you look really carefully you might see Amy skiing. ;-)

The day was hazy and warm (I ditched my gloves early on and never did put them back on), but the views of the west side of Mt Washington were great. The snowshoeing was good, but the trail had significant bare spots. Most of the coverage was 2-4" - not great for early February. The good news is that there was significant snowfall a week or so later.

The trails at BW are fairly well marked, although like most areas the trail markings near the lodge weren't that great. I took a short detour around the back yard of the lodge as a result.

I also missed the markings on the trail map posted in the lodge indicating a short section of the Perimeter trail was closed. I discovered this after my outing, when I went in to make sure the staff knew that a 500 foot or so section of the trail was a very bumpy skating rink. All I can say is that it's a very good thing that snowshoes have crampons, and that I snowshoe with poles.

Welcome to the Snow Shoe Diaries

As most of you know, for several years Amy and I have been spending a good portion of each winter in the company of the KSC (Kerns Ski College). After each trip a report on the activities is posted to the KSC website. Additionally, there is a log book in the KFFRC (Kerns Family Freedom Retreat Center) living room which each guest to the house is encouraged to write in.

In the past my participation in the KSC has been limited to cooking (hence my skiname, Chef), and hanging out at the house or in the ski lodge. I've gone snowshoeing on a couple of the trips mostly in Lake Placid. And after we acquired snowshoes for Amy three years ago (I think) we've done some snowshoeing on our own.

Three times in the last month, while we were in New Hampshire I've gone shoeshoeing while Amy was off flinging herself down a hill on skinny boards. The last time was as part of a KSC trip. Prompted partly by a conversation with Sunshine (aka Karen) I posted a report of my snowshoeing activities as part of the weekend report on the KSC website.

While snowshoeing closer to home on Saturday I decided that I should share that with my family and friends. Which leads us to this blog. For the next month or two this will be largely a report of snow activities, after that we'll see.