After a riveting day this past Saturday cleaning the dusty, dirty basement, Alex and I decided it was time for a little adventure. We spent quite a bit of time pondering which hike we’d do. Last year we got a new ski set-up. We’ve been really into winter hiking, and overnights at the AMC/RMC huts in the Whites for the past few years. The biggest thing we’ve complained about is that we have to hike DOWN. We both are into downhill mountain biking in the summer, and the thrill of the downhill is the most fun. So we thought- hey, we should be able to enjoy the downhill in the winter too! And not just on my orange Paris sled. So, we contemplated the various set ups, from the full-on alpine touring down through the basic metal edge backcountry touring ski. Mind you – neither of us are downhill skiers. We both snowboard on the slopes, Alex being significantly more proficient than I am at it. I was raised 20 minutes from a pretty big (for New England standards) ski area, but never once got on downhill skis, primarily because I pursued a high school sports career of x-c ski racing, and also because it was cost-prohibitive! So, we decided to look at the various downhill ski set-ups. Somewhere between $2000 and $300 for a set up. Well, considering our experience, we went with a more entry level tele-backcountry ski set up. We got a wide ski with nice metal edges, and an a basic tele/touring binding. We can get skins as an upgrade so we can ski up-hill, and then theoretically we can ski down the mountains we love so much to hike up. So, last year in our efforts to learn how to use our skis, we decided to try it at a ski mountain, where there would be less trees likely to get in our way as we learn how to descend on our kind of half-assed downhill set up. It’s a set up that’s not good at any one thing, and it’s ok at everything. Too heavy for x-c skiing, not enough control for downhill, but all around ok for everything. And great for the backcountry skiing that destroyed our last x-c skis at the Frigid Infliction adventure race a couple years ago.
So, our attempt at using our skis at a ski resort kinda didn’t succeed. It worked better for me because of my x-c skiing background, but Alex really struggled to get control. But despite our embarrassing attempt to ski the slopes, we still have been dying to use our new setup. So, that brings us back to the beginning. Alex and I pouring over the various hikes/ski trips we could do. We finally came to the conclusion that we aren’t exactly ready for backcountry skiing down mountains on our new skis. So, with that decided (at about 9PM the night before), we agreed that we would hike the well-travelled Mount Monadnock in Jaffrey, NH. We packed like we always pack, which is typically for an overnight. So we were well-prepared for the 7 degree temps at the base of the mountain on Sunday morning. We set off, and within minutes, we warmed right up and stripped down to just our long underwear.
Within the hour, we approached the the summit.
We made our way to the top, where the winds were so strong that they definitely blew you off balance.
We thought we’d try out our gear in the winter, so brought the ol’ loved JetBoil stove to heat up water for some noodle bowls. Well, the stove prevailed and boiled us some water after a much longer cooking time than in the summer (obviously) and we added the water to our noodles. Which of course promptly cooled down before we could even eat them! So the gear worked, but definitely a different choice in food next time. All in all, the hike took us only a couple of hours round trip, and that was with our extended summit stay with noodles and hot chocolate and Baileys, mmm. Just enough time for our feet to start getting cold. So it was a short hike for us, but Alex hadn’t ever been up the mountain, so it was a good one to check off his list. And we were back lounging on the couch by 4PM. It was a worthy day trip.