Wednesday February 17, 7.8mi/12.6km
Camp Desperation (17.0/1990ft) to Cold River Leanto #3 (24.8/1680ft) (NY)
We were awake at the usual 5am, and got the stove going for hot beverages. It was much colder this morning, which is good news for the ski conditions, but it made the hot cocoa extra necessary. Breaking down camp took a little longer this morning, as it usually does at a non-leanto site. We were moving down the trail at 7:15am.
The good news was that the snow was no longer a gloppy mess of wet snow. The bad news was that the slush re-froze overnight, and there was a now a 1inch thick crust on top of the snow. And we broke through that crust with every step.
The sunrise through the open hardwood forest was a nice distraction, though!
This is my favorite time of day, early morning in the woods. The untracked trail makes it feel very remote — and it was!
Jim coming up behind, as I pull over to take a photo.
This photo was taken accidentally, but I kinda like it. My left ski is covered in pieces of breakable crust.
We took a break at Seward Lean-to for an early lunch (or 3rd breakfast?). It was a nice sunny day, we took our time eating all sorts of calorically dense things.
After the break, the trail followed an old road for the rest of the afternoon. This was nice because it had gentle grades, with no steep up/down across drainages. But, it was also littered with blowdowns. Jim demonstrates a textbook blowdown traverse.
We also saw many different types of animal tracks in the afternoon, along the Cold River. I think this hooved animal might be a moose.
Another photo with the ski poles for size reference.
Towards the end of the day, the breakable crust was less severe, I think the sun softened it up a bit. And for the 2nd and 3rd skiiers, it was really quite reasonable skiing, as the first person had broken through the crust.
But, it was nearing the end of the day and we were all pretty tired. It was almost 5pm and we had been moving for about 10 hours.
We stopped at Cold River Lean-to #3, and setup our tent next to it. The kitchen was built on snow in front of the lean-to, and we sat in the lean-to and lounged with our boots off. We boiled water for our dehydrated dinners and hot drinks, and used the extra warmth to thaw some Nutella, which becomes a brick in cold temperatures.
I scoped out the nearby swingbridge, which will be our first obstacle tomorrow, when we cross the Cold River. It was a tiring day, I will sleep well again tonight!