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Esther 1-8-18

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  • Esther 1-8-18

    I hiked Esther on Monday and it was beautiful, but a big challenge also. Headed up from the ASRC trailhead at 8:20. (FWIW, a snowy Monday in January gets you a primo parking spot at the trailhead...) The weather did not look stellar, but it was not cold, either. The Marble Mountain Trail was pretty nice going, lots of snow underfoot, but broken. Took a number of pauses to admire the concrete blocks and catch my breath. The snow got thicker after the junction with the other trail, and I started hitting some small drifts. I hoped to do both Whiteface and Esther, but decided in any case to do Esther - I didn't know what might be in store, and thought Whiteface was a better orphan than Esther if it came to that.

    A few feet down Esther's herd path, it became clear that there had been no steady stream of visitors recently, or if so, there was zero evidence of it. Broke trail to the summit through many drifts - snow was soft and deep, not quite solid enough even for good snowshoe support. One memorable drift had to be chopped down to size with my poles before I could hoist myself over. The bindings on my Tubbs snowshoes were solid through much workout, I was impressed. I tried some steps without my pack just to compare with weight, but it didn't make much difference. I hadn't packed particularly light. One too many Nalgene bottles, plus the extra layers I was too warm all day to wear, and some leftover meatloaf that I had earlier, for reasons that escape me now, thought would make a great hiking snack. I ended up only eating honey stinger gummies and the one chunk of seized-up ice cold Snickers bar I could pry off. And water and Gatorade, which eventually froze into a slush. Brrr.

    Took a full hour and a half to get to Esther's summit from the junction; arrived around noon I think. It was howling windy and sideways snow, but the heavily laden big trees and the frosted up tiny trees on the way were really stunning. After parking in a drift, out of the wind, and snacking for a few minutes, it was time to go back to my car, I decided. I grew up in the prairies and know what a blizzard looks like. This wasn't a blizzard. But it wasn't far off, either. Whiteface would have to wait. My tracks had already started to fill in with blowing snow, so I had to keep trail-finding my way back to the junction sign. Aside from a few steps of indecision, I was glad I had left a fairly direct trail for the next person - until I saw how quickly it was totally erased. Notwithstanding the A+ I get for strict adherence to LNT principles (ha ha), it's kind of amazing how quickly it appears one was never there at all... these mountains are forever humbling.
    Most of the way back was out of the wind, and mild to medium downhill; it really was fun. The snow was thick and fluffy enough to slide in, and try a few telemark moves to stay upright on the really steep bits. Occasionally succeeded too! (Not really.) Not bad, falling in slow motion into fluffy drifts, as opposed to my summertime-style of Adirondack trip'n'fall, of the noisy collapsing lawn chair variety. Hurts way less in winter. To my disappointment, the Marble Mt trail wasn't steep enough to butt-slide down, but it was an easy going shamble. When I got to my car, I realized my knees and ankles felt... totally normal... amazing! Deep snow was best friend and worst enemy this time. In retrospect, I'm not convinced the trail and weather conditions were good enough to justify my trip? Although, that was the day I had free for it. It wasn't too cold and it ended up being a great little mini-vacation. I was sad in principle, I guess, to "orphan" Whiteface, but I hear it has an ok view maybe I'll get a clear summer day for that one sometime.

    p.s. Wyatt's in downtown LP makes a burrito that includes smoked brisket AND mac and cheese. It was a good day.

  • #2
    Originally posted by stone611 View Post
    Not bad, falling in slow motion into fluffy drifts, as opposed to my summertime-style of Adirondack trip'n'fall, of the noisy collapsing lawn chair variety. Hurts way less in winter.
    This is probably one of the most accurate observations re: anything that I've ever read on the Forum. I'm sure we've all had a collapsing lawn chair moment.

    Abandoning an ascent early is a bummer, but if you're using good judgement along the way then making this decision is always for the best. Those mountains aren't going anywhere.
    My mind was wandering like the wild geese in the west.

    Comment


    • #3
      An hour isn't so bad if you are breaking. Being there weren't good views it's just as well to leave Whiteface for another day because you'll want to go back.

      If you Nordic ski now there is the possibility to climb the toll road either skiing or snowshoeing and then skiing back after tagging Whiteface by climbing from the last hairpin turn.

      Don

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      • stone611
        stone611 commented
        Editing a comment
        I don't actually Nordic ski, but I was pretty amused that the snow was thick enough that snowshoes didn't catch on anything, so it was almost like skiing. I hadn't been out in those conditions before, glad to experience it. I bet skiing down the toll road would be really fun!

    • #4
      Telemark snowshoeing is a quite the hoot in fresh powder! Good job at breaking trail. One mountain a day is enough for anyone performing that chore, but gets you first tracks on the way down.

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      • #5
        The skiing part was another floatation test. You were seeing the floatation of 2 snowshoes. So if your snowshoes were 200 square inches, when you were skiing you were experiencing 400 square inches. I think this is why you were suddenly impressed with the floatation, and its also why just taking your pack off was not enough.

        I think this is where people think they learn about snowshoe size. They increase their size by 25 to 30% and think they've done something great, but it doesn't show that much necessarily. You have to increase it by 100%, depending on body weight of course. Then the person decides with their little experiment that the small increase didn't show, so why bother.

        Of course, the downside is that your 100% bigger snowshoes might want to act like skis when you wish they wouldn't.
        Last edited by CatskillKev; 01-10-2018, 11:29 AM.
        I might be kidding...

        Comment


        • stone611
          stone611 commented
          Editing a comment
          That's really interesting - I definitely learned a lot about gear in those conditions! I confess I bought my snowshoes like I buy most things - get the lady version so my guys don't try to borrow them all the time

        • CatskillKev
          CatskillKev commented
          Editing a comment
          I liked that you were considering the floatation, and not just blaming the snow. There are a lot of nuances with snowshoes. The lady version tends to be narrower in the back. That can be a rip-off when the lady wants floatation. Kind of like the old department store bikes. The bike with men's frame would be 36 pounds and the women's frame model would be 37 pounds.

      • #6
        Originally posted by stone611 View Post
        My tracks had already started to fill in with blowing snow, so I had to keep trail-finding my way back to the junction sign. Aside from a few steps of indecision, I was glad I had left a fairly direct trail for the next person - until I saw how quickly it was totally erased. Notwithstanding the A+ I get for strict adherence to LNT principles (ha ha), it's kind of amazing how quickly it appears one was never there at all... these mountains are forever humbling.
        .
        Extra credit for breaking trail both up AND down the mountain. My parents used to mention something like this about walking to school when they were kids - uphill both ways! And yet these mountains, on a stormy winter day, can truly feel that way at times.

        Comment


        • #7
          flotation vs floatation


          https://books.google.com/ngrams/grap...tation%3B%2Cc0
          Looking for Views!

          Comment


          • CatskillKev
            CatskillKev commented
            Editing a comment
            Yes I'm aware. I just like floatation better because it has the root word clearly spelled as float. The other version just seems like flo what? Like flow?
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