Dodge's on last leg
Disclaimer: Please excuse my lack of writing skills, I promise my skiing and hiking skills are much better.
Well, Tuesday (April 29th, 2003) was THE day to take off work. It was a near perfect day at Tuck's. I got the call at 6:15am from my buddy in VT and he informed me that he called the boss and he was all set. We planned on meeting at Pinkham notch at 10. We opted not to head into the great gulf with such a late start. So, we weighed our packs in at about 48-49lbs and hit the trail. Our hike to Hojo's had to have set a new record. We took a break once the whole way up. I think the motivation was the picture perfect day and such a late start. We must have got to Hojo's in under an hour and a half. Unfortunately neither of us have a watch, so we'll never know, but my legs know... So, we really didn't stop at Hojos either, we were anxious to get the tough part of the hike out fo the way, so we moved on. We got part way up Hillmans and found a rock to ditch the unneccessary items in our pack, and strap on the boots and crampons. The hike up Hillmans was not record time, but we didn't waste any time either. Knowing how early that Dodge's goes into the shade, we really didn't have much time to waste. So, I am assuming about an hour up to the top of Hillmans. Once we got just over the top of Hillmans we were faced with 50+ mph winds, with a peak gust of 74mph!!! (I checked the archives to verify this). We were quick to throw the hoods on to protect our faces from the winds. It was cold up there with that wind, even on a 70 degree day or whatever it was. We had guessed about 50mph knowing what that feels like on a mt bike. So, we found shelter under a large rock to catch our breath and take the crampons off and prepare for the descent. After a 10 or 15 minute hike over to dodges our hearts were pounding with excitement!!! The snow was steep and stable. There are a few entrances to Dodges, but this day there really was only two ways down. Dodge's make a Y at the top and looking up at it, we skiied down the right side first. It was wider!!! First run was phenominal. My buddy who dropped in first was quick to inform me to watch out for a crack that he had to hop over, but I didn't see it. His tracks must have covered it up. There was a trench dug into the skiers right of the chute that acted as a path for the snow to slide down, it was something I've never seen. It ran the entire way down to the first ice bulge, which is a good thing. It filled that area up with snow, but not enough. So, upon reaching the first ice bulge, we decided that that run was too good to do just once, so we found a good spot and put the crampons on and grabbed our ice axes and headed straight up. This was a little slow going, but we made it. In trying to capture the steepness (yet to do any justice) we took some photos of us hiking from directly accross where we were hiking. Hopefully you will be able to see how steep this chute is. We decided to ski the left part of the chute (looking up) on our second run. Run #2 was awesome as well (very narrow), but the sun wasn't hitting any more and it was starting to set up. That didn't really matter though, because we were beat anyway and we still had to hike down, ugh!!! So, we took our skiis off at the first ice bulge and one other time. The chutes were very narrow and slow, one-at-a-time kind of conditions. The underbrush is overtaking the skiing due to the snow melt, and it really made it tough. probably the last run down dodge's for the year, atleast for us. After the rain today and tomorrow, I believe that Dodges is going to become unskiiable. I could be wrong though. I think that we are going to try Great Gulf this weekend instead. It has a better aspect (more to the north) for holding snow longer. Anyway, let's pray for good weather this weekend and a couple feet of snow on Monday and Tuesday.
PS- Has anyone ever suggested to propose to raise money so they could get some snow making operations going on the Sherburn Trail? I know that I woulod help that cause. The hike out blows after skiing 2 runs down Dodges!!!