Dodging A Snowstorm

By Mike Boisvert.

I was concerned that the cold I caught during the week would force me to back out running this trip. Friday night Tom, Mark, Andrew and Colin joined me for an overnight at the Mad River Lodge. Tom left early so he could hike up Carter Dome with John. Apparently an isolated snowstorm dumped over one foot of snow in certain areas up north. As we were driving to the trailhead we started to think that perhaps we should have brought our snowshoes. However once we reached Gorham, NH, we discovered that the storm did not hit the area of our trip.

We got to the Nineteen-Mile-Brook Trail at 12:00 PM and greeted Beth and Kate who were there waiting for us. Our group total at the Trailhead was seven. Our entire group total was nine counting Tom and John hiking up to Carter Dome. We left with our full packs about 12:15 PM.

At the Trailhead we ran into three hikers out on a short jaunt up the trail. Five minutes after they started we saw them return back to their cars. They indicated the trail was a sheet of ice and had to turn around. That prompted us to put on our crampons and Yak Tracks. The hike in was beautiful following the frozen and snow covered brook. At our nice leisurely pace, we reached the Hut, sometime around 3:30 pm. The notch itself was very windy but nice to listen to. The temps at this time was hovering around 20 degrees and dropping like a lead ball. We went to our bunks to unpack.

After changing into dry clothes, which let me tell you is NO easy feat at 15 degrees, I came down to the Hut ready to relax.

Most of the hut guests were from a Boy Scout troop from Maine all 19 of them. They were all well behaved. We were surprised how ill prepared they were. Some of the scout leaders were wearing denim jeans and nobody had any kind of traction device for the ice. We told a couple of the leaders that we were a gay group thinking it might help their attitudes towards gay scout leaders in the future.

Tom and John were still out on Carter Dome. They arrived back in time for dinner. The cute caretaker, Chris, got the woodstove going and the inside of the hut reached a comfortable 60 degrees.

I cannot put into words what a wonderful experience dinner was this weekend. To have everyone contribute is really how cooking dinner should be every night. Kate and Beth made some tasty Spinach Pita and awesome oatmeal cookies as appetizers and stovetop dressing as a side dish. Andrew and Colin made their own soup paste and turned it into a delicious hot pea soup and then made  spicy Indian curried rice as a side dish. John, Rick and myself baked about six Chicken Pot Pies as the main meal. Mark and Tom brought in moist brownies topped with vanilla icing.

We brought so much food that we began to offer it to other people in the huts. The Boy Scouts loved the brownies. In the end, we had to carry some back. It was easy for John to bring back the Chicken Pot Pies - they froze overnight for the carry out in the morning.

Those who didn’t get a chance to help with the preparation of the meal either went out to the pond to get water or helped with the clean up. Everyone should be thanked for the teamwork. I got to sit back and relax in the Hut, which was now a cozy 60 degrees. After polishing three bottles of wine between all of us, it was time for bed. Everyone liked the idea of taking a hot water bottle with them into the sleeping bag to prepare for the cold night in the unheated bunkhouses. The predicted temps were frigid and the morning reading confirmed that with the ambient temps falling to 10 and the wind chills bottoming out at minus 5 . . . someone correct me if the numbers are wrong.

I slept like a baby in my Marmot sleeping bag. However the bottom zipper by my feet was not working properly so my bag vented more than it should.

It was tough getting out of the sleeping bag the next morning. Everyone packed up and left at his or her own paces. We left the Hut at about 9 am with either crampons or Yak Tracks on our feet, and arrived back at our cars around 11 am.

What a weekend. I cannot thank the great group enough for making the weekend such a success. I had a FABULOUS time. So, who’s up for Madison Spring Hut in June?

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