Day 16: Down to West Stony Creek

Tuesday March 2, 8.4mi/13.5km

Abner Brook Campsite (121.5/1400ft) To West Stony Creek Lean-to (129.9/920ft) (NY)

It was a very cold morning (-1F/-18C), and I had to work fast to pack up, so I could get skiing sooner and warm up my cold feet. But, my hands work slowly in the cold, so it was a struggle. Finally, I was packed up and I started skiing up the hill. Jim and Mark were 5 minutes behind, I just wanted to get moving and warmed up. I skiied maybe a half mile up the hill, then turned around and came down to meet them. They were very close, I only had to ski for a couple minutes. We re-grouped, and I was headed south again, into the sunrise. Mark is in the lead here:

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The snow was pretty dense, so skis floated along the top pretty well. As you can see, the strong winds last night brought down all sort of sticks and branches.

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The southern part of this trail is lower elevation, and it definitely felt like it. The forests were mostly open hardwoods today.

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We got to Woods Lake pretty quickly, it was only 9:15am! We accessed the lake from the north shore (with the landowner’s permission), and skiied the mile across the lake. It was very sunny, but also still pretty windy, so I didn’t stop to take a break.

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Panoramic photo on the lake!

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This photo came out blurry, but I like it anyway. Looking southeast, skiing down Woods Lake:

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We arrived at the opposite shore 30 minutes later, and went back into the windless forest.

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We re-joined the official NPT and I stopped to sign us into the trail register.

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This trail register was full of groups hiking in the last month, it’s great to see so many people getting out there!

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We took off our skis, crossed Benson Road, and put them right back on. The rest of the day was familiar territory, as we had skiied this on a dayhike a month earlier. The trail was pretty rough, as hikers had come in without snowshoes or skis, and post-holed all over the trail. The deep holes can be dangerous, so we skiied next to the trail. At noon, we took a lunch break in the middle of the trail, and it was nice sitting in the sun.

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We had just over a mile to our planned leanto, so we tightened up our boots and started down the steep downhill.

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At first the trail was a nice gentle downhill. Just after this photo was taken, it became much steeper, and Jim broke one of his ski bindings trying to ski/turn downhill on very icy snow.

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The binding was definitely broken, so Jim removed his other ski, and walked down the trail in his bare boots. It was only a half-mile to the leanto, and he didn’t seem to sink in very much. I was still on skis and having a slow time navigating the icy steep slope, but eventually I got down. We all arrived at the leanto at 1:30pm, and I thoroughly enjoyed taking off my pack and sitting down. We looked at Jim’s binding, and two of the three M6 screws had been sheared off. The third screw (lower left) was fine, so a plan was hatched to use epoxy and ski straps to make a temporary repair.

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Jim fixing his ski with 2-part epoxy, hopefully it holds for most of tomorrow!

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We had all afternoon to hang out, in addition to the usual tasks of setting up the tent, hanging up the sleeping bags, and getting water. It was warm and sunny, and a perfect last afternoon on trail. Before dinner we enjoyed a celebratory beverage, and reminisced a little about the past 16 days. It doesn’t feel real that it’s ending so soon. However, my mind was more occupied by the dual worries of crossing the wide (100ft) West Stony Creek tomorrow, and traveling the last 5 miles with a broken ski binding. Oh well, that’s not my problem…that’s future Jon’s problem! 🙂

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