Tuesday February 16, 7.2mi/11.6km
Moose Pond Lean-to (9.8/2240ft) to Camp Desperation (17.0/1990ft) (NY)
We were awake at 5am, and boiled water for morning beverages at the leanto. Boiling water and packing up generally take much longer in winter than summer, and we departed just before 7am.
The morning started off nice, with good skiing under cloudy skies. The trail had some small climbs and descents, but overall was pretty flat.
We passed by a trail register, which was covered by a hilarious amount of snow. I signed in for the group; it looked like only two other parties had been through since autumn, and one of them was hiking the Trans-Adirondack route…badass!
After the trail register, we lost the nice snowshoe track from the previous group. (It turns out, they bailed out at Duck Hole, using an arduous exit route). Breaking trail was a little more work, but the flotation of the skis kept us mostly on top of the snowpack, and the untouched forest looked beautiful.
We stopped at the Cold River #2 leanto for lunch. The Cold River #1 was nearby, but a tree had fallen on it, yikes! We spent a relaxing 45 minutes snacking with our packs off, while the temperatures continued to warm up.
About an hour later, we were still breaking trail, but the warm temperatures were causing the snow to become sticky. Skiing was becoming more difficult, and we were having to occasionally knock off clumps of “mashed potatoes” snow.
We all had our pack raincovers on, as there was some precipitation starting. It was kind of a wintry mix of snow, rain, and freezing rain.
After two hours of worsening snow conditions, we decided to call it a day. It was only 4pm, but the wet, gloppy snow took 10x the effort to move through, and it just wasn’t worth expending the energy. My skis were so heavy with frozen mush that I had to use both hands to lift my leg up! We setup camp on the trail, put up the tarp to guard against the falling moisture, and Jim got to work building a snow kitchen.
It was dark by 6pm, and we made dinner in the nice snow kitchen, and ate on the “dining room” bench. Winter camping is great, you can always build benches and counters!
We starting getting in the tent around 7pm, and with 3 adult humans trying to get in through 2 doors, it took awhile. The whole process of removing boots, setting up sleeping pads and sleeping bag, and changing clothes can take awhile. Once we were in the tent, we started one of my favourite nightly traditions, Mark reading a chapter from a Guy/Laura Waterman book.
Hopefully tomorrow’s snow conditions are more conducive to skiing and covering miles!