Monday, February 28, 2005

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.

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