Great to be back out in the backcountry again

Saturday, December 13, 2008 at 07:49 PM

Snow and running streams on the flanks of Mt. Mansfield.

Ingredients for a lovely winter afternoon:

  • white snow
  • blue skies
  • backcountry gear.

I had my first backcountry outing of the season this afternoon and it was so nice to be back at it. The storm this week left about 8 inches of snow or so on the western flanks of Mt. Mansfield, where I skied today. The Skimeister and I parked at the Stevensville trailhead parking area and started up. And up. I think my arms are going to tell me tomorrow how they felt about today's ski trip!

There were plenty of rocks and streams to avoid during our ski outing. The water is only partially frozen up there. You really don't want to get your skis wet, or you'll have to stop and scrape for awhile. So, that made for some interesting stream crossings that required big steps and good balance.

The other challenge was the thin layer of ice that was just under the top inch or so of soft snow. This week's storm left a lot of ice in its path in southern Vermont and New Hampshire, but up here in northern Vermont we lucked out with just a bit of icing. But it was enough to make a layer that created resistance as I skied amidst the trees.

The crust actually made noise as my new-to-me plastic boots plied the snow. As for the boots, they are Scarpa T4s—plastic, lightweight tele boots. I bought them on consignment and this was my first outing with them. It was either going to be a good afternoon, or a very uncomfortable one!

The verdict: I think they are going to work out well for me. We didn't take a very long tour, but I didn't get any nasty rubbing on my feet. So far, so good.

If I had my Karhu Converts on today, I would not have been a happy camper. They are super comfy but the crust layer would have been way too much for them. They wouldn't have been rigid enough to direct my skis through the snow. A ship without a rudder.

It was refreshing to be out among the frosty trees and rivers again. Backcountry skiing is a great way to get away from the crowds on a Saturday, as well. Even though the temps were low, I was making plenty of heat as I stepped and glided up the hill.

So, all in all a very good first backcountry outing! Cross-country skiing is on tap for Sunday.

Filed in: Backcountry skiing, Mt. Mansfield, Ski gear

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