Desolation Lake

The exploration has begun! It’s going to take some time get all these places & names into my head.

Over the pass from Park City to Big Cottonwood Canyon Christina & I went. Up the Mill D North Fork to Desolation Lake.

Are we there yet? The terrain is much smoother than that of New Hampshire or Vermont; however, the elevation prevents us from having any speed advantage.

We are there; stunningly colorful and clear water at 9200′.

Paired with aspens that have begun to turn,

it was quite the splendid locale for a basecamp.

We stashed our packs and climbed higher for a view.

We looped the ridge and settled back for dinner, as temps fell quite below what we had been used to.

Our bellies full of Chicken-Ala-King, the Sun king gave his parting shots.

Back on the ridge, a megalopolis, began to emerge, and not very far away at all.

Back at our home away, the harvest Moon watched us sleep.

Still chilly when we rose, much to our delight, the other Jack Frost had run through our canyon in the night.

Back to the car, we passed some others early to rise.

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The Move.

Slowly I cut the fat, trimmed the heard, and downsized until all my personal belongings would fit into an Outback equipped with a roofbox. The subie was packed, the route was plotted and then we partied. It was the most EPIC send-off in history.(PERIOD in case you missed that tiny punctuation mark) Christina & I managed to get on the road at 7am; we quickly passed through familiar territory of 146 corridor, WEMA, and Eastern New York. We high fived when we flew right past the exit to 88 and into uncharted territory. Fortunately day 1 was the shortest; we were starting out past E on the sleep tanks, and one of us had had a few too many CryPA’s(TM) during the party. The Rainbow Bridge crossing into Canada was relatively painless. However, when the border patrol asks what’s in the car I suggest something other than a bleary eyed “uhhh, stuff, you can see it through the windows.”

Lesson learned we checked into our hotel and rushed to downtown Niagra, where we made it onto one of the last Maid of the Mist departures.

This is one of the few touristy activities I recommend.

Spoiler Alert: These boats should not be called Maid of the Mist, but Queen of the Fire Hose.

The “wild” life was being quite photogenic.

Oops. This would be the wild life photo.

Day 2 had us continuing through Ontario, where the cleanest rest stops in the world exist. The trickiest part about driving in Canada is figuring out just how fast you can go without being a candidate for a speeding ticket. I would estimate 20Km over the posted on the highway is about as far as you want to push it. We crossed back into ‘Merica just south of Detroit. To my dismay the urban blight was not visible from the highway. We passed signs for Ann Arbor and then South Bend; the heartland of college football. The hulking beast that is the Gary US Steel Mill marked the beginning of industrial superhighway that continued all the way to Chicago. We arrived early in the afternoon, giving us plenty of time to figure out the CTA, eat possibly the best burger of my life, and visit the observation deck of the Willis, formerly Sears Tower, which was built with 7.4 Million CY of Concrete!!! We saw other things on our 8 mile walking tour and agree that Chicago deserves another visit. What does not deserve anything is the rush hour traffic; even leaving the city it was horrendous. We lost an hour easy on our biggest mileage day. Once rid of Illinois, the odometer seemed to move slower and slower. Wisconsin, Minnesota, South Dakota; this is all we saw.

I guess we did see some of these too…

And then there wasn’t much to see with all the bugs splatted on the windshield.

It was dark by the time we reach Badlands National Park and found a campsite. No idea what our surroundings looked like we woke up to a spectacular view in the predawn light.

Here comes the sun.

A room with a view.

I know we weren’t in Montana, but this place sure seems like Big Sky.

Driving through the badlands was definitely my favorite part of the trip. You may notice, I got a little snap happy. The terrain is just so different than anything I’ve seen before.

Apparently there are some hazards in them there formations.

I’ll take a badlands traffic jam any day of the week over Chicago.

The prairie portion of the drive.

I was unimpressed with Rushmore, but the Black Hills National Forest looked like a mighty fun place to spend some time.

I kept expecting Yogi to jump out of the woods yelling “Hey, Boo Boo, howaboutanutha picnic basket.”

And then it was this:

For SIX HUNDRED MILES; Wyoming is a very large area. Just Christina, Myself, and the aptly titled murder mystery Cross Country in audio book format.

We hit a five minute very intense rain squall somewhere near the Wyoming-Utah border, just to keep us on our toes.

We arrived in the dark, 2600 miles later. A new chapter begins.

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“death march”

Squeezing in all the requisite New England summer activities as the exodus quickly approaches.  This trip ironically turned into the laziest camp/hike weekend.  Boxes, however, were checked off.

As per usual it was late in the day when we reached the Forest.  All campsites including the go to Hancock were fully occupied.  So it was primitive style for night one.  After Stefan & both claimed at 7AM that we would not be able to fall back asleep, we woke will a start at 9AM.  Already behind schedule we booked it out of the woods and altered the plan to get hiking asap.

We landed  at the kanc hairpin.

River crossings en route to the hancocks were much more manageable in the summer time, and the second attempt proved to be the charm.

The day started out with blue skies.

As we climbed higher the sun started a game of hide and seek- I found you!

North Hancock provided some nice views of the East side of the Pemigawasset and the ridge of an actual death march.

If you time it right- beauty interrupted.

The day concluded with hours of fun with fire.

The coals & clear skies last long enough for a breakfast of ages.  And then the rains came.

and with it our motivation for any further “death marching.”

These were wise investments…
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next time I’ll drive

Oh what vast landscape is this?

Where the mountains tower over 14000′.

Where there really was gold at the end of the rainbow, and lot’s of it!

Where gondolas are the preferred method of transportation.

My that is quite the quandary.

Where the sun rise shines up from below.

Where the first bullwheels did not haul skiers but miner’s delight!

Where the water supply is 11000′ above the Quabbity.

Where mountains bleed rojo.

The roots of this quandary run deep with wild reds.

Where you can take the highway through the GREAT DIVIDE!

Where you can find snow in July.

Where the light does not pollute.

Good night Colorado. Till next time, when I’ll drive.

Moar Photos.
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Spring Beach Photo Roll










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Spring? Break?

Spring has come, and so has some love from Ullr in conjunction with Christina’s spring break.  We traded in our shades, sunscreened noses, and spread eagles out of corn bumps for bonus powder days.

Contrary to the standard grey snow days of New England, the blue bird flew over in the morning shining some light on the fresh fluffy dendrites at sugarbush.

In the spirit of a “typical” spring break, we floated along some undulations. 

At the summit Nick puts in the first track,

and Christina makes the second mark of the day.


The skiing was really too much fun over the past two weekends, so the camera stayed in the car most of the time.

Saturday at stowe, conditions were the best I’ve had all year.  It really is a shame I’ve not spend more time on the flanks of Mt. Mansfield and in Smuggler’s Notch.

Landings were soft, as long as trees weren’t involved…

Christina showed me how to be graceful on her line.

Always a good idea to replenish the calorie bank after a solid ski day.




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“I’ve got another confession to make, I’m your fool”  Dave Grohl screams into my ear.   Your fool looks at his phone; it reads 3:00 AM, a minute ago it was 1:59 AM.  I stumble around crusty eyed pulling on baselayers and gathering my personal affects.  Thirty minutes disappear by the time I hit the road.  It’s quiet, but not empty, most of these people are likely on their way home ending there night still many hours from cursing that annual evaporation of time.  By 5Am I had passed through Andover, and Mike was now in the co-pilot seat.  I gather we drifted between mission planning & blank road gazes until we made a coffee stop on rte 16.  Driving through conway we were treated to a brilliant red sunrise and view of our objective basking in the alpen glow.

We hit the skin track by 8 and made it to Hojo’s just as they were putting up the Avy Report.  At the same time we got our first visual report of the various options.

The duchess has been on my list, but the cruxes looked a little too brushy & ice bulgey for my tastes.

Skinning through the little headwall we reached a surprisingly very empty Tuckerman Ravine.  With a hard freeze overnight we were confident in stablility of Right Gulley, one of the easier ascent routes.  With only a light wind on the ridge we decided to venture over to the east snow fields and let the top of the steeper ravine routes soften up as they were still borderline bulletproof.

We traversed an ocean of sastrugi; waves frozen in time.

I kept my skins on my skis for the climb up and easily started skinning up, getting some good kick turn practice in.  Mike regretting sticking to booting and thus we found a nice switch over spot about halfway up the summit cone.

Knuckle dragger dragging knuckles.

Navigating the sharks.

Back at the Ravine.  Visualizing the steep turns ahead; mental preparation is paramount.

Nothing left to do but shred!

So you’re saying the sun won’t set till 7pm?  I think I’ll have another.  We headed up the lip where we saw a lone skier making some fantastic turns early in the morning.  I didn’t feel comfortable going up through the crux without an axe so I changed over early and enjoyed some STEEP soft turns down while Mike kept going to the top.  There is certainly some serious exposure to navigate.

Did I say steep?

Racing out on the gentler slopes

as the shadows take over an hour late.

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