At this rate, we’ll be snowed in ’till May!
An essential component of winter sports in the Northeast is the ritualistic grumbling about inopportune conditions. When we actually get more snow than we know what to do with, the silence is deafening. Snowboarders, skiers, snowmobilers, and snowshoers are out in droves, and we’re no exception. With a third storm on the horizon, Tim and Kelley and I decided to night-snowshoe the Appalachian Trail over Mt. Greylock.
I’d love to tell you that the mountain roared it’s ugliest head and we roared back. I’d love to tell you stories about losing toes to frostbite and abandoning a shredded tent in hurricane-force winds. It would have been so awesome if climbing Mt. Greylock at night in sub-freezing conditions during a snowstorm was arduous, but it wasn’t. It was delightful, and nobody got cold, and nobody got too tired. It was Type 1 fun, not Type 2.
We stayed at the Wilbur Shelter, which was also delightful. I took a picture of the map at the trailhead and used my GPS to mark our progress on the trail so we made the right junctures. This is the only good picture we have from the night hiking part, and it took us like ten tries to get it.
Moderate to strenuous… yeah right!
We stuck to the flattened snowmobile paths on the service road, but eventually had to break trail for a mile or two to the actual clearing. Funny, when we were up there, we were six days after the last major snowfall, and the trail was untouched. It seems the Appalachian trail isn’t getting much use in North Adams this season.
And why not? Things were breathtaking… The creaking hemlocks and pines worried us a little, since every branch had a couple pounds of fresh snow by morning, but we were treated to an idyllic hike with no major challenges. It was some of the best snowshoeing I’ve done this season.
The Mt. Prospect viewpoint afforded us a gorgeous view of the valley. Winter hiking brings the joy of almost constant pastoral views, since the leafless trees do little to obstruct the landscape. If you can, get out and explore some snow-capped forest before spring. Winter seems to be an off-season to a lot of people, and I feel like missing these wonderful months of completely unique conditions is criminal. We’re trying to milk this winter for all it’s worth. When we meet new people and swap stories in the summer, we’ll be able to share these experiences and feel like we actually know winter well enough to illustrate it.
Of course, we’ve been biking too.
Kelley and I got out last week for the big, big storm. There was a break about midday Monday, and we took the bikes out to explore along the quiet, suburban streets in Amherst. With super-wide 2-inch Schwalbe Marathon tires, Kelley found the conditions a bit agitating, but manageable. I was on knobby 2.3-inch mountain bike tires, and I simply ate up everything. Traction was glowingly positive.
The Karate Monkey as a winter bike is not an obvious choice, but it’s working. Sure, a part of me wants to buy a Surly Rabbit Hole wheelset and squeeze a Knard into my fork for some snow-biking, but as-is, the bike is more than capable. The Karate Monkey’s offset seat tube places my rear wheel directly under my center of gravity, so I’ve always got a good grip regardless of the conditions. I do, however, want to get my handlebars lowered properly before spring.
If that fender looks like it’s touching, it’s because it was. We ended up taking it out.
Keep riding, if your streets are still getting plowed!