Day 11: Back to Spruce Lake

Thursday February 25, 9.7mi/15.7km

West Canada Creek Lean-to (81.4/2280ft) to Fall Stream Campsite (91.1/1920ft) (NY)

Another 5am wakeup, and we left the lean-to just after 7am. There didn’t seem to be any new snow, so I guess the forecasted weather never arrived.

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We skiied along on a pretty good trail for an hour and a half. Breaking trail wasn’t too bad, as the snow seemed softer and the skis floated better. When we arrived to Sampson bog, however, the bridge over the outlet was missing. And it wasn’t frozen over, so we were forced to find a route over the bog itself, probably adding a quarter-mile to the day. Mark went first, exploring a route over the frozen bog.

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The rest of the morning was pleasant skiing in mostly hardwood forests, without the dense spruce bushwhacks. 

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I loved being out in front, it was a little more work, but the scenery and untracked snow made it feel like another world.

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Sometimes skiing under blowdowns is easy, when they are high enough. Can you find the smiley face in the tree snow?

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We emerged at Spruce Lake just after 10:30am, and we opted to ski the frozen lake. As usual, the trail follows the left bank of the lake, and travels through some thicker spruce forest that we wished to avoid.

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It was windy today, and especially so out on the open lake. Mark leads the way…

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Of course, I like to get a photo of the terrain behind us. We skiied down from the pass to the right of the rounded hill in the background. Jim is coming up from behind, passing nearby Spruce Lake leanto #3.

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Everybody is smiling as we approach the end of the lake ski, and close in on our lunch break spot, Spruce Lake leanto #1.

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It’s a good day for skiing.

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The wind had scoured off some of the snow, and the sun reflected on the bare icy patches. It made a cool visual pattern.

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The home stretch on the lake, we exited at the cove on the left.

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We arrived at Spruce Lake leanto #1 at 11:30am, and our tracks from a month ago were largely erased by nature. (We had hiked 10mi into here and camped on a shakedown hike on February 6th). We celebrated getting to this point, as now the terrain in front of us was mostly known, and we felt more confident in our finish. I also ate most of my snacks, as we are re-supplying tomorrow afternoon in Piseco, so I was on a calorie high. 🙂

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After a nice long break, we skiied for another 2.5 hours in the afternoon. We mostly followed our broken-out trail from 3 weeks ago, though sometimes it was easier to ski in the fresh snow. A very enjoyable afternoon of skiing!

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We arrived at Fall Stream around 3:30pm, and after negotiating a tricky crossing, we arrived on the opposite bank and setup our camp. 

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Jim is constructing a snow kitchen, using the newest semi-circular design from “Winter Camping Quarterly”, ha!

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This is a pretty typical setup of our camp when we’re not at a lean-to. The Big Agnes Copper Spur Expedition fits us snugly, and we usually hang a clothesline nearby to dry out sleeping bags and clothes.

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This was one of the few non-leanto camps where we had good weather, and it was great! The kitchen design was a smashing success, and we were all in very good spirits. Probably because we got to eat all our extra food, and we are excited about getting a resupply tomorrow in Piseco!

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