Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year Sampler

(Photo by Tyler Finck)

As we sit on the couch, sampling from a box of chocolates, it's tough to wrap my head around what sort of year 2012 has been. I can't find the right analogy, so I'll say just say it straight: it hasn't been easy, but after the year it's been I can say without any doubt that in life, you never know what you're going to get.

But when I remember 2012, I'm choosing to remember the last week. So with that, as you'll read below, It's been a great year.

Goofers on Madison 

"Goofers," I said.
"What's a Goofer?" they asked. 

 Kevin was wearing Carhartts and an L.L. Bean Parka. He decided to forgo a backpack, and had apparently stolen his cute little mittens from his 6-year old daughter. Pete had on low-top trail runners, relying on the fact that they were Gortex to keep them from filling with snow, or perhaps he was thinking that the magic textile would keep the sneakers once they were filled with snow. At least Tyler's beard made him look like he knew what he was doing. 

They were Goofers. Grossly unprepared hikers. And I was leading the way. 

All three of them could run a half marathon faster than I could hike four miles through the mountains. All three had done significant hikes: Tyler has recently been exploring the Adirondaks, Kevin has done Katahdin numerous times and Pete thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail. 

But today, a day after Christmas, we were on my turf. Valley Way to the Madison Hut and up to the summit of Mt. Madison. In the winter and in the snow. 

Were they actually that unprepared? Nah. But with this crowd, any weakness is fair game to be picked on. Whether it's a lack of trimness to your manly figure or one bad time in in the 800m , its exploitable. You know what.. fuck it, they were Goofers. 

The snow on Valley way was nicely packed. At the hut, there was barely a sound, the wind stunted trees frozen into snow drifts and trail signs with their windward sides crusted with rime ice, a result of being wind blasted with cold, served as a nice reminder of how rare a nice day like this was. 

And we even made the summit of my favorite peak, Mt. Madison, as a merry band of Goofers. And I've never laughed so much on a hike. 

(Photo by Tyler Finck)

(Photo by Tyler Finck)

A "Roof" for Our Chickens

Our poor neglected chickens hate the snow and it hasn't taken long to figure out that we hate chickens being indoors all the time and the alternative, shoveling the run. 

So do we let the birds stay inside, plucking each others feathers and overeating in boredom (holy shit, do we have kids?) or do we break our backs shoveling their run and throw them outside— only to have half of them come right back in.

The run needed a roof. But they already had windows with latches, an outdoor area with a roof might just be too much. And buying materials for another roof? That would literally be too much. 

We don't have many coniferous trees on our land, but lately the few we do have been turned from green to white, their branches covered in snow.

An excuse to use the chainsaw. Knock one down. Off with it's limbs. We'd been meaning to cut that pesky balsam fur down anyway. It blocks our few south and filters out much of our precious morning light in the heart of the winter. 

With over a foot of new snow on the ground, and more starting to fall, we practiced our open faced notch, fell the 25' tree perfectly alongside the chicken run, and spread its limbs evenly over the fencing that was already securing the top of the run.  Our chickens a perfect "green" roof for nothing more than an afternoon together. 

Backyard Skiing

Coffee. Fresh eggs. Snow blow your way out of your driveway. Put your ski boots on in your living room. Turn right out of your driveway and drive five minutes. Park. 

It's going to be a good day. 

There were two cars in the parking area at the Doublehead Trail Head, but no one else was in site. I had 6" of fresh snow to myself. Two miles up. Two miles down. My first ski run of the year. 

It wasn't the prettiest run. My legs had their typical early season kinks, my thighs burning with each turn, but the quiet moments with perfect glide and rhythm between turns, rolling over the features that make the old school backcountry trail special, made it all worth it. 

I coasted out the flatter section of the bottom, letting the wind whistle by as I dodge water bars and barely covered streams. It was hardy 9 a.m., the lifts at the local ski area were just filling up, as was the trailhead when I got back to my truck— snowboarders, ready to posthole there way up the pristine trail I had just come down, then come down, pushing all the fresh snow into piles, just like at the resorts.

But I was happy. I had my fun. 

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