Friday, February 4, 2011


Friday, February 4, 2011

Bluebird morning. Great Range from the top of Roaring Brook Falls.

Pristine snow.

Gray Jay afternoon. Noonmark on the horizon from the summit of Giant.

Friday's forecast: Sunny.
Saturday's forecast: Cloudy.
Chose Friday.
Friday's Bluebird became a Gray Jay.

New Gear
Roomier pack: Osprey Talon 44
Longer snowshoes: Evo Tails
Improved Hydration system: Thicker hose insulation. Bite-valve sheathed and stashed in jacket pocket.

Overslept; left Montreal at 6:00 AM. 
Left St. Huberts trailhead at 9:15 AM.
Temperature: -5 C (23 F)
Wednesday's storm brought plenty of fresh snow.
Register said: two people went to RPR the previous day.
Path to RPR should be a breeze.
Trail is 'post-holed' to the top of Roaring Brook Falls.
Remainder is blanketed in fresh snow and is pristine.

Trail-breaking assignment: apprx. 3000 feet of ascent over 3 miles.
Expected to be topside Giant in 3-4 hours.

Tails on. Tails off. Tails back on.
Variable snow pack; sank from 4 to 10 inches.
Sank a lot deeper off-trail.
Fueled by jujubes and energy bars.
Pancreas got a good workout.
Attempted to schedule rest-stops to, no less than, 100 paces apart.
Lungs dictated their own schedule and could not be ignored.

Me, myself, and I shared the trail-breaking.
We all had the same pace.
Four hours later, we're not on the summit.
Collective bewilderment.
Myself blamed me whereas I remained stoic.
Write-off RPR; Giant or bust.

Reached the RPR junction and stared longingly at RPR.
No epics today, thank you. On to Giant.
Summited at 2:45 PM. Five and a half hours of trail-breaking had to lead somewhere.
Temperature: -15 C (5 F). Windy; on goes the hardshell.
Fleeting views; clouds obscured everything.
Raven swooped by.
Downed the last of the hot latte.
Left the summit at 3:00 PM.

At the RPR junction, I met two young women, summit-bound.
Ascending via the Ridge trail, they had left an hour before me.
They were equally astonished by today's tough slog up Giant.
Remainder of my descent: striding and glissading.
Back at the trailhead in under 90 minutes. 
5.5 hours up. 1.5 hours down. Nonsensical.

Post-Hike Recovery
Chocolate milk.
8 oz prime rib washed down with 40 oz of red ale.
Professional massage.