A group of my friends have celebrated New Years for the past 15 years by going to a cabin somewhere, usually at Moosilauke. This year was no different and with a slightly varied cast we set forth once again. Brenda and I did some lift telemark skiing at Waterville Valley then headed to trailhead after dark. It's a 1.7 mile ski into the cabin up the Ravine Lodge access road but since it's relatively flat and clear we didn't need our headlamps. By the time we got to the cabin it was warm and food was ready. People drifted in as the evening wore on, as we headed towards midnight. People lounged, played games, and ate chocolate fondue, before a fine celebration to mark the moment, then off to bed.
The morning of the first dawned cold, windy, and foggy, but what is that compared to tradition?! So most of us planned to hike to the summit via the Gorge Brook trail, while Dave and Kathy were going to ski the Al Merrill loop and put up some freshly painted signs. We packed up, got outfitted, and headed out. Only one person (Elaine) elected to bring snowshoes, the rest just planned on hoofing it. It was quite cold so we didn't stop long for breaks so we just snacked and hiked. We stopped for a very brief lunch below the last cut views which is where to only other hikers we saw that day turned around because of the cold. Just below the Balcony we put on most of our gear and pushed on into the mists.
Some Summit Photos
Lafe brought his new Canon digital video camera and managed to take some video from the summit. It was below zero with 30-40 MPH winds, so the video is rather spectacular. Hopefully I'll get a video card for my PC and manage to add it to this trip report. After just a few minutes up top taking pictures we headed back down Gorge Brook to get warm. We gathered everyone together below treeline for some nice hot tea with honey from my Thermos. It really helped us all get warm again and then we headed down to try and beat the failing light. By the section of trail that runs along an old logging road the sunset light was fantastic and we stopped for the last time as a group. The last 45 minutes was a long, tiring, slog back to the cabin and we arrived just after dark.
We had another fine dinner and spend the evening keeping the fire going and tried to get the maximum possible temperature differential between the outside (approx -18) and the inside (approx 65) using another Dave's indoor/outdoor thermometer. The next morning dawned cold and clear, so Dave and Kathy decided to go to the summit, proving once again that waiting is sometimes best. Lafe, Allison, Ed, Brenda, and I elected to ski the Al Merrill loop. After folks packed up and headed out we waxed up and started up the loop. Say what you want, but I have to think that hand warmers have a place on ski trips. Conditions were wonderful and the view from the top of the loop made us wish we had delayed our summit trip just one day. Then we hit the screaming descent, picked up our packs at the cabin, and skied out. In Hanover we had a fine Chinese dinner, hit the Hanover Hot Tubs, then headed home to avoid the ice storm.
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