Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Monroe Skyline Trail (Aborted)

It seemed like a great plan at the time . . .

We had a scheme to try to see some of the PSIA Alpine Level 3 exam yesterday (March 28th), but get around the $78 price for a full day (midweek) lift ticket at Sugarbush, VT.  Our plan was to get a single ride on the Mad River Glen Single Chair, slap on some skins, and traverse the portion of the Long Trail that runs between Lincoln Peak (Sugarbush) and Stark Mountain (MRG).  We envisioned a triumphant ski down at the end of the day at Sugarbush, a beer in the bar, and a bunch of stories about our epic 5.5 mile hike.

Unfortunately, I completely missed the trail.  The guidebook said that the trail would be pretty clearly marked with white blazes on the trees.  Unfortunately, with the pretty fantastic amount of snow they got this year, the white blazes must have all been covered up.  As guide (i.e. the only one who had read the book), I poked around skier's right of Antelope, but could not find the trail to save my life.  I kept diving in the woods and going further and further right, only to be closed out.  We eventually ended up somewhere around the 20th hole (for those familiar with MRG).

I though we should kind of hike in a little bit further, just to see how much we missed the trail by, so we set off on a pretty well trafficked traverse:

We even strapped on the skins and went up towards the ridgeline for about 20 minutes.  After Sugarbush North came into view, though, it was clear that we were not even close to where we wanted to be.  We decided to just ski back out to the 20th hole and go down to the base lodge from there.

We took another run, just to see if we could find the trail at the top.  I noticed a faint yellow ribbon in a tree just about where Antelope makes a sharp turn to the left.  I followed the wind loaded, bumpy terrain up the ridge until I found another yellow ribbon and a faint, wind exposed, narrow trail in the altitude shortened trees.  Jackpot.  Don't know if I'm going to get back here this year, but it definitely feels like something I want to try at some point.  I still want that celebratory beer.

In other news, I went to Pittsburgh on Saturday and Sunday (so I didn't get any skiing in), but Ace has been up at Killington and Stowe for the past few days and it sounds like she's got some great stories.  Maybe I can convince her to write a guest blog post.  I'm thinking of adding a regular Friday feature which will basically be a link dump of all of the ski stories I found interesting over the past week.  I have a Google Reader account with just about every ski blog (and a few bike blogs), and I'm constantly "sharing" things, but they aren't going anywhere.  I finally found a way to "share" them to my twitter (@mattchuck2), so they'll pop up there, and then I'll compile the best of the week into a Friday "Big Dump" (or something more clever if I can come up with a better title). So look for that as the latest addition to the blogging phenomenon known as ski=mc2.

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