The life-threatening cold and wind chill due to frost bite and hypothermia phrase in the weather alert caught several people’s attention and the head count plummeted with the temps. A few of us met early for a very nice breakfast at Jezabel’s. We were only 16 by the time we squeezed out of Folly Foods (a mix-up at ZAC left them closed for our meeting time), nine in the southbound group and seven in the northbound ‘Fisher Express’ (named after the sister/brother duo). We (Marie and I skied with the Fisher Express) had easy going on the old Hoosac Tunnel and Wilmington RR right of way (“Hoot, Toot and Whistle” or “Hold Tight and Worry”) from Harriman Dam, except for some drift busting along the reservoir’s edge. We had thought we might meet the SB group at Wilder Brook, 4 miles for us, six for them (they had a shorter drive again) but when they weren’t there we moved on to the huge rock cut the railroad made in 1922 in hopes (quickly dashed) of being out of the wind. We had a quick lunch (nice oatmeal brownies, David) and skied on, studying porcupine tracks along the way. I was just getting “officially worried” about the SB group, since we were more than halfway and I had expected them to beat us to the halfway point, but then we met them. Seems they’d had some very tough drift busting along Rt 9, and more of the non-railroad bed terrain as well. They seemed ready to keep going as we met and un-swapped keys. We then enjoyed the long gentle downhill remote snowmobile tracks, and met Rich and Sheri at the bottom, by prior arrangement they were skiing south to meet us. This helped me get to the plus side of my target of ending with +/-10% of the people I started with.
No one wanted to use the bail out car to skip the last few miles, so we plunged down (some more carefully than others) from Medburyville and froze as we crossed the open field along the river into the wind. It was bit more sheltered after the short road walk, and then we gained another trip member, a rambunctious black Lab who followed us (too closely most of the time) the rest of the way, up to his belly in snow. The ‘terrace’ around Searsburg Station was challenging as ever, the wind had taken the snow off right down to the ice. Then we took turns re-breaking the trail that the southbounders had broken in the morning (they had the same experience in the drifts along the reservoir), the wind had filled it right back in for the most part. We had to leash the Lab (Marie got to ski-jour a little) to cross Rt 9, and David agreed to bring him back to Medburyville, where the dog was re-united with a frustrated owner.
No frost-bite, no hypothermia, some rough language at times, some blisters, but I’m glad I went. Monday is forecast to be a bit colder… see you at ZAC at 9am.