Sunday, April 30, 2006

Amazing Bike Trails Nearby

Today I wandered upon some amazing bike trails near Skidmore.  I saw some people bike out of a side gravel road that was gated off so I went to take a look.  After passing a no tresspassing sign and around the gate I looked into the woods to see giant slabs of rock.. and assumed there must be a trail over there.  Oh yes.. there was a trail and it ran over the slabs of rock for nearly a mile through the woods.  It was amazing and very technical.  I'm definitely going to have to get some body armor to really hit the trail like I should and push the limit.  On my 3rd time down the trail I shredded my rear deraileur cable and had to call it a day... but I can't wait to go back and hit it again..hopefully with the bike shop boys next time!


Friday, April 28, 2006

Hahaha... Enough Said...

I love this picture... and I think by looking at the CD covers I made for her you can tell why we all call Jessica Schmidt... "DJ Shitstainers". hahaha.


Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Bye Adrian

Well, again last night I had to say goodbye to a good friend who is leaving Saratoga.  Adrian Berezowski.  I met Adrian at First Guarantee Mortgage and we worked together for about 3 months before I quit last November but we have stayed in touch since and have partied a bunch together.  He's a great buy but it didn't work out between him and his girlfriend Kristin so he is moving back to Sleepy Hollow, NY near the city where he will again bartend and work towards his Bar Exam to become an environmental lawyer. 
    Rick, Adrian, Mike and Adrian's friend Mike Caldwell and I went down to the Tin & Lint for some drinks.  Being a Tuesday we expected the bar scene to be dead but there was a pretty good crowd of Skidmore kids at the Tin & Lint.  After a bunch of beers we were roped into a game of flip cup on a piece of plywood covering a pool table.  Of course us pro's destroyed the Skidmore kiddies but who's counting?... haha. Adrian and I soon had a game of Beurout established which we played for another hour or so using a bottle cap as a pong ball.... At about 2am a beautiful Skidmore girl passed by us and Adrian (always looking out for his bros) blatantly stopped her and introduced her to me (even though he'd never met her before).   Well, we began to talk and ended up chatting for about 10 minutes about her transferring to another school and about her horse riding abilities.  Eventually, I casually asked her, "so, your a senior at Skidmore then?"... she said, "actually, no, I'm a freshman with a really good fake id".  I responded, "wow... I shouldn't even be talking to someone as young as you"  HeAdrianr response shocked me... "It's ok, don't worry... I'm legal".  What!!??? Who says that?  I was blown away, and my buddies of course gave me the high sign to take her home but come on... I've got ethics... I'm 26... nearly 27.. I'm not going to take a girl home who I'm nearly a DECADE older than...
    At about 3am I convinced Adrian to head out and as we walked past The Alley he ducked in for a drink.  I told him I'd leave the door open and wandered back to my place.  Adrian woke up this
morning with no clue how he got home but thanked me for keeping the door open for him.  I hung out with him a bit then said goodbye to him as I walked to work today at 4pm.  He's a good guy and I'll miss him! :)


Saturday, April 22, 2006

Last Night with Meg Baxter

Our good friend Megan Baxter has moved on to bigger and better things in the small town of Boston, MA.  Last night was the last night going out in Toga with her.  We will all miss her but I'm happy that she is going to experience new things and meet new people.  She is moving to the Sommerville area of Boston near Cambridge.  I met her out with some friends from work after I got back from my long drive to Saddleback, ME.  Her friend Lindsay who is the grill chef at Springwater Inn was absolutely beautiful but as usual she has a boyfriend... just my luck.  We stayed at Gaffneys for a while waiting for Megan's Skidmore "friends" to show up.
    Finally her friends Jess and Emily showed up briefly to quickly pound an expensive bottle of champagne Meg bought for everyone and then take off with their lesbian friend for some sort of orgy... real nice friends of Meg's in my opinion... but it's just my opinion. 
    Meg's true friends and I then took off to 13 for a bit and the Tavern to see what was goingCimg3164 on.  Nothing much was happening as it was nearing 3am in the morning.  Megan was hit on by a bunch of
guys at the bar on the 1st floor of the tavern so crazy Meg's idea of scaring them off (I love this girl) was to blatantly come out of the bathroom with toilet paper on her shoe! hahahahah.. Check out the picture. 
    Shortly after Meg scared off the annoying guys at the bar we parted with her friends and walked back to my place where she crashed on our pull out couch.  It was a fun night and I hope to bump into her friend Lindsay again sometime.  I'll miss Meg, but I know she'll have a great time in Boston and I can't wait to go visit her with Kerri!


Friday, April 21, 2006

Saddleback & The Horn

Yesterday I decided it was time for me to start knocking off some mountains in Maine. I woke up at 7am and picked my father's car up at 8am to head towards Maine for the 6 hour drive. Yeah... that's right...6 HOUR DRIVE.
I got to Saddleback Ski area at 2pm in the afternoon after driving all morning in beautiful, sunny warm weather. On this trip I decided to pack my Salomon 1080's and ski boots along with me. I also took crampons up because the guidebook said it was a ridgewalk. As I was gearing up a man came out of the lodge said hi and asked to make sure I had a cell phone with me. Not that it helped at all because when I actually got to the ridge I still had no reception... I started off up the slushy ski slopeSaddleback_the_horn_42106_012
and made amazing time. I guess my legs are being reconditioned fast with all the hiking I have been doing this past month. The ski slope I decided to hike up was a straight shot up to the ridge from about half way up the mountain and it was steep... real steep. The kind of steep that if you fall you will slide for a very long ways. I decided on it because I love challenges :). I had my plastic Koflach mountaineering boots so I felt pretty secure stomping into the snow and using my ski poles for balance. I made it to the top in an hour and dropped my ski boots and skis of at the top of the chairlift before proceeding onto the exposed ridge to the summit of Saddleback.
The Saddleback ridge was unbelievable. It is a long exposed ridge for almost 1.5 miles to the next mountain I was after - Saddleback, The Horn. It was 60 degrees out with no wind and perfectly Saddleback_the_horn_42106_024
blue skies and except for some shaded sections in the trees there was only patches of snow around on the rocks - I didn't need my crampons at all. I had great views over to the Presidential Range and the White Mountains of NH which I had passedSaddleback_the_horn_42106_028
through that morning as well as terrific views of the backside of Sugarloaf, my home ski mountain while at college at Bowdoin in Brunswick, ME. I snapped a few pictures on the summit of Saddleback and proceeded down the 500ft col to begin my ascent up the ridge towards The Horn. Whenever I would duck into tree strands on the ridge I would sink up to my thigh inSaddleback_the_horn_42106_016
melting snow.. it was a little irritating. Again, to my amazement I saw moose tracks at that elevation! Once again a moose had found it was wise to follow the Appalachian Trail on the ridge to get to wherever it was going. All along the ridge there were little pools of water collected from the melting snow. It was amazing.
I quickly ran up to the summit of the Horn, snapped some pics and headed back down to the col to go Saddleback_the_horn_42106_038back up to the summit of Saddleback. Essentially the hike was 3 mountains because I had to do Saddleback twice coming back over it to the chairlift where I left my skis. I was strapping on my
skis at 4:45pm to head down the slope ISaddleback_the_horn_42106_054 had hiked up. My legs felt strong even though I had only eaten a kitkat since breakfast
at my parents at 8am. The ski down was great in the sun by myself and I was able to grab some air off some lips on the steep slope. I ended up skiing the last section down to the lodge switch (backwards) hoping to impress anyone in the lodge.. haha.
I headed out of the ski resort at 5pm not looking forward to the 5.5 hour drive home against the setting sun. Route 16 north of Mt. Washington all the way to Saddleback was the most desolate road I had ever driven. I was honestly averaging 80mph for a good hour down it on the way up in the Saddleback_the_horn_42106_065
morning and I did the same on the way back. There were no cars on it for miles and miles. On the way home I had something different to worry about.... large 1500lb animals that come out at dusk to hang around pools of water by the side of the road... that's right... moose... and I saw 8 of them on just that road on the way home. One was standing directly in the middle of the road when I came around the corner at 80mph and quickly ran to the side of the road. I stopped a couple times to take some video and pictures and yell at them a bit to get their attention. I think they were confused at the loud muffler on my dads car.. haha.
As I passed through Berlin, NH I saw a forest fire on the side of a mountain overlooking the city. It has been reallySaddleback_the_horn_42106_069
dry lately with great weather and there have been many fires... this being one of them. I also had some great views of the northern Presidential Range going through Jefferson, NH (where I climbed Waumbek last week). I took the wrong road briefly at one point and lost about 15 minutes of time before realizing I was heading towards Canada! Stopped at McDonalds for some really shitty dinner and was home by 11pm to drop the car off at my parents and head back to Saratoga to go out for the night. What a wondeful day of hiking in blue skies and warm weather... too bad it took me 6 hours to get there!


Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Mt. Waumbek

    I have climbed nearly 200 mountains in my life so far.  Out of those 200 I have had to turn back on 4.  One of those times was yesterday.  I decided to stay overnight at my parents on Sunday so I could get a head start up to northern New Hampshire on Monday morning to go climbing on my day off.  I had an ambitious plan to climb all day Monday, get up at 5am on Tuesday and climb another mountain then make the 4 hour drive home in time for work at 4pm at Wheatfields on Tuesday.  I checked the weather on Sunday night and noticed that it had changed from sunny and warm to cold and a 60% chance of rain.... This bothered me and I almost cancelled my plans but remembered a few days when I had cancelled that had turned out beautiful... 
    So at 8am I headed out in my fathers Ford Taurus back to Saratoga Springs to pick up warmer waterproof clothing for the trip and was able to hit the road out of Queensbury at 9am.  It took me 3.5 hours to get to Lancaster, NH for my firts mountain - Mt. Cabot.  I immediately became lost on side roads trying to get to the mountain so I pulled over and asked in a store for directions.  A very nice old woman drew up some directions for me and I followed them perfectly to what looked like a gate for cattle... not a trailhead... After more searching I pulled into a woman's driveway and asked her.  She promptly told me that the Forest Service had closed down the trails on this side of the mountain 5 years ago (my book is very old that I use) and that I would have to travel around the mountain range and start on a longer trail on the other side... Well, I looked at the map and noticed that the section of trail that the forest service had control over was about a quarter mile so I decided to keep looking for it - and by now it was nearly 1pm so I really wanted to get started.  I eventually found a small camp called "Mt. Cabot Camp" that looked run down but there were signs to trails pointing from it so I assumed this was the old trail....
    My first mistake was that I started hiking up without snowshoes in my leather Asolo boots, not my winter mountaineering boots.  The trail turned out to be an ATV trail and it seemed to go up the mountain in the area of the old trail according to my old map.  After 45 minutes of hiking the trail abruptly ended at a very thick grove of spruce trees - Damn... not the right trail.  At this point I began looking around trying to find my bearings.  I could see the Waumbek Mountain range behind me (what I would do the next day) but I wasn't sure what ridge on Cabot I was on.  I decided to throw on my gators and start traversing the mountain looking for the old trail.  I quickly saw what looked like an old path through the woods but there were no trail markers.... because it was a moose herdCimg3034
path.  Suddenly I found the ground I was walking over was coverd with litterally hundreds of fresh moose tracks in the mud and soft soil and there were moose droppings everywhere... some still steaming they were so fresh.  So here I was traversing this mountain completely lost following a major moose herd path through the woods obviously very close to a pack of 1500lb animals that could kill me in a heartbeat.  Eventually I came down to a river that looked very familiar on the map and proceeded to search the side of it for where the trail should be to no luck.  Regardless I began to hike up the side of the river up the mountain hoping to meet up with the trail and while doing so began to encounter more and more melting snow which I sunk deeply into with every other step, soaking my leather boot and slowing me down immensely.  I looked at my compass heading then back at the Waumbek mountain range for a reference..... It was gone, swallowed up by a huge cloud.  This is when I stopped, took a look around and took measure of what was happening to me:


When to turn around

1. When an angry
local tells you that the trail on her property is closed by the forest service.

2. When you can't
find the trail you want to be on.

3. When you see
massive moose tracks and still steaming moose droppings everywhere.

4. When you have to
follow moose paths through the woods to get through the brush and come across
moose resting areas.

5. When you come
across the snow line and realize you're not on a trampled trail and you are
without snowshoes with worn out ski boots.

6. When it starts to
snow then freezing rain.

7. When the mountains
in the distance used as reference for height and location dissapear in the

8. When the map you
have isn't up to date.

9. When your cell
phone has no reception for emergency calls.

10. When you hear gun
shots in the distance from the crazy locals.


For these reasons I decided it was time to leave... better to live to hike another day.  Sure I was pissed off but I was also happy to know that even with my extreme desire to finish the mountains I need before moving to Oregon I can still make the right decision about when to turn back or keep going.  This will be crucial when I'm climbing Everest in the future and I have $35,000 on the line attempting it.  I traversed back to the muddy atv trail and headed down the mountain.
    I stayed the night at a nice place called the Skywood Manor in Jefferson, NH, just 1500 feet Cimg3097from the
trailhead up Mt. Waumbek I would take the next morning.  When I got to my room it was freezing so I turned up all the heat then went out to get some food at a local deli and bring back some snacks for 24 that night.  So, there I sat alone in a small town in northern New Hampshire of about 200 people eating Cherry Garcia and watching 24 on a 19" screen.  Immediately after the show ended I turned off the lights because I would have to get up at 5am the next morning.  It poured rain all night.
    I woke up today and quickly drove to the trailhead to begin my hike, with snowshoes and plastic mountaineering boots this time, up Mt. Waumbek at 5:30am.  I cruised up the well maintained trail to about 3,300ft where I hit snow and ice on the trail which I had to be careful negotiating by myself.   There was still no cell phone reception and I didn't want to break a leg up there alone.  AtCimg3040

about 3,500 feet I hit the snowline from when it was snowing yesterday at that elevation.  It was beautiful! Fresh snow covered everything and as I hiked along the sun rose into view creating mist on the forest floor.  I was so full of energy from my chicken parm and ice cream last night and the beautiful weather that was starting the day I found myself at the summit of Mt. Star King in just over hour.  Waumbek was just 20 minutes away on the ridgeline.  The sun was coming up and shining through the trees with blue skies opening above.  On the ridge I first followed fox tracks over the trampled snow and then to my amazement at the wooded summit of Mt. Waumbek I saw moose tracks - at 4,000ft (moose usually stick to valleys and sometimes, as in the case yesterday herdpaths on mountain slopes).  Because of hikers throughout the winter packing down the snow on the trail, the trail itself was a hard crust of snow and ice that could easily support a human and provide a much Cimg3058welcome stable platform for a moose to travel on as well which this  particular moose obviously found out.  Occasionally  I would see where the moose tilted off the  trail and sank up to its thigh in snow... (that would be a funny scene to watch).  I took a few pictures on the summit to prove I was there and then headed down the mountain.  It was slippery at times on the ice covered trail but I was able to make it back to the car by 9am and home at my parents to have lunch with them at noon.  Plenty of time before work at 4pm.
    Yes, I failed to climb one of the mountains I set out for, but I learned that I still make wise choices when in the outdoors that ultimately could save my life or others with me.  A key aspect of serious mountaineering is knowing when to turn around, knowing when mother nature has you beat.  After going a few rounds with her on Mt. Cabot I threw in the towel, and I'm glad I did.  But I'll be back.....


Saturday, April 15, 2006

Rick & the Cops

Last night I went out with Rick and Mike downtown for some drinks.  By the time we left our apartment it was clear that rick was a little drunk... very drunk.  He had on some sort of Don Johnson Miami Vice shirt with flowers if I remember right and he was sloppy drunk.  The night began at Gaffneys where Mike and I proceeded to flirt with his hot friends from work.  Rick was having a great time dancing by himself at times to the live band they had playing there.  Rick was smiling, having fun, laughing, and enjoying the night out.... which is why I'm completely confused about what happened later on....
    As the night progressed we ended up on the 4th floor of the Tavern with some of Mikes friends.  I went upstairs and as usual on that floor was immediately grabbed by a young blonde Skidmore girl and forced to dance with her a bit.  I glanced over at mike who was also talking to a smoking hot blonde so things seemed to be going well.  We had left the Bullpen 10 minutes before and I had thought that Rick had followed us into the Tavern but he was no where to be seen.  After about 5 minutes of dancing/grinding with the cute blonde I asked her age and she responded "21". 
    It was at that point that I apologized and excused myself from the dance floor.  Not necessarily because of her age but because I'm pretty much done with the hardcore partying time of my life and this girl seemed to right in the middle of that time herself.  Also... I didn't see sloppy Rick anywhere.  I glanced over and saw mike dancing and kissing the hot blonde so I didn't even bother to say bye to him.  Correction:  Mike kissed the hot blond AFTER they left the Tavern.  I've been informed he's only danced with one girl at the Tavern - Sarah.
    I proceeded down the stairs to the front door to see Rick Spratt surrounded by 4 cops... uh oh.... I walked up to one of the cops and asked what the problem was...  The cop responded that Rick was very drunk and had been in a fight and was spitting blood on people... This made no sense because about an hour ago I saw Rick smiling and dancing and having a great time, not to mention he is not a violent drunk at all.  After talking with the cop a bit, and after they didn't find anything from running his ID I convinced the 3 cops to let me take Rick home and put him to bed.  Thankfully they agreed. 
    Rick had a large welt on the top of his forehead that looked like someone had hit him with a mallet but he didn't seem to notice it at all.  He was very upset at the hard time the cops had given him though and I had to keep bear hugging him from returning to the scene angry and probably getting arrested.  Thankfully a few drunk Skidmore girls saw the problem I was having and decided to give me a hand by flirting with Rick and getting his mind off of what just happened. 
    As soon as Rico Suave saw the hot girls it was like a switch had been flicked... his whole demeanor changed back to funny, charismatic, flirtatious Sprat-ta-ta-tat.  Next thing you know we were at the corner and the girls waved goodbye and I thanked them for the help. 
    I got Rick home, threw him on the fouton and then returned back to the bar scene breifly.  I met up with Megan and Kerri who were also out that night but they ended up heading out with Clint Sheer back to his place for a party there.  Mike called me and told me about his escapades making out with two hot girls and felt bad he didn't know what happened to Rick.  I told him my luck was out for the night and I headed home...
    At 10am this morning I heard the bike shop guys yelling up to move Ricks car.  I yelled for Rick who replied, "oh shit... I should be in Boston right now!".  I heard him sprint out the door and that's the last I've heard of him since.  I'm sure whoever he's visiting in Boston will get a kick out of his forehead... hahahaha.  YOUR WELCOME RICK.


Thursday, April 13, 2006


    For the past two weeks I have been applying throughout Saratoga Springs for jobs at restaurants for the summer and I recieved several calls back over the past couple days.  I interviewed at Forno Toscano, Baileys and Wheatfields.  At first I was excited about working at Baileys because George the owner also was partners with Judd from Judd's Tavern in L.G. and he said that he would try to get me behind the bar later this summer.  His scheduling girl didn't sound like that was going to happen though so I was nervous.  Then I went to Wheatfields for my interview and spoke to the
owner Tim who told me about all the renovations currently going on there.  Apparently they bought the store next to them and are doubling the size of the restaurant while also adding a 25 foot bar.  The bar will be open until 2am during the summer along with a brick oven pizza so it should be a very popular place right on the corner of Caroline Street as people are heading home after a night of drinking.  According to the schedule the renovations should be complete by mid-June for the summer.  He only has a 7 foot bar now and 2 bartenders so he said that he should easily be able to get me behind the bar this summer to help it get started.  I hope he keeps his word.  In the meantime I will be taking tables as a server which should also bring in some great money.  I heard tonight that one server made 9K in 6 weeks last summer during the track season.... I may have to hold off on going to OSU until after Labor Day if I'm making that kind of money!  Anyway, my first night of training was tonight with a beautiful girl named Christina and I had a great time.  The chefs listen to hip-hop in the back and everyone there seems to be genuinely very nice.  I'm looking forward to working there over the summer.  Never thought I'd ever wait tables again... but I also never expected to be in Oregon either... hahaha... how life changes.  Click the picture to go the restaurants web page.


Monday, April 10, 2006

Mt. Mansfield

Because I'm heading to Oregon State next fall for the next 6 years I've decided to put a lot of effort into finishing my Northeast 111 (All the peaks over 4,000 ft from NY to Maine - actually 115 of them). With gas prices totally sucking as they are I decided to take my father's car to the mountains when I go thus saving me a ton of money. Today I drove to Stowe, VT and climbed the highpoint of the state, Mt. Mansfield. At 4,393 ft. it is well under a thousand feet smaller than the other New England State highpoints but I believe the views from the summit rival all of them.

I picked up my father's car at around 9 in the morning and headed up North in what was becoming a beautiful sunny day. It took me about 3.5 hours to get all the way North on 89 toCimg2973
the small village of Stowe, VT. When I got to the mountain I found it still open for business with skiers coming down the few slopes that were still open. I always get funny looks in the parking lot when I start strapping on a backpack and tying my plastick mountaineering boots to my feet with gators on. I took my skiboards today just so I wouldn't have to have the extra weight of ski boots in my bag while climbing up the slope. They easily snap onto my plastic mountaineering boots for the trip down.
I decided to climb up a windy closed ski slope on the right side of the mountain to avoid the ski traffic and made very good time. Half of the hike up was over a trail covered with melting Cimg2984
moguls. The sun had come out and the temperature was pushing 60-65 degrees with the radiant heat reflecting off the snow into my face. I made it up to the top of the Gondola in about an hour and a half and stopped into a warming hut to ask the ski patrol where the herdpath to the ridge started. The guy looked at me like I was some city punk who was going to get himself killed up there. I reassured him that I was prepared and tried to flash my multiple "46er" patches on my bag so he could see them and realize I knew what I was doing but he didn't.
I quickly made it up the herdpath highway trampled through the woods to the ridge where I was met with 20-30mph wind gusts and a temperature drop of about 25 degrees. On the way
to the ridge I passed multiple large cliff drops that I had read about in ski magazines. One of them was nearly 40' from
the lip of the drop to the snow below. In a good snow winter these would be amazing to hit... I'll have to remember that when I come home to visit from Oregon. After putting on my shell pant and jacket, gloves and a winter hat I proceeded up the ridge to the top
of Mansfield.
Cimg2999 The view from the top was spectacular. I could see all of the Adirondack High Peaks in the distance over the long, narrow Lake Champlain
to the West and to the East I could see the
Presidential Range and Mount Washington in NH dominating the view over the White Mountains. To the South I could see the long narrow band of the Green Mountains stretching out before me all the way to the slopes of Killington which I had passed through in the morning on the way to Stowe. To the North was the Canada and very few significant mountains.
I stopped on the summit for a few minutes to call my parents and take some pictures. (very hard to set a camera on a timer up on a rock, then run to position in less than 10 seconds while hoping
Cimg3019the camera doesn't blow away). The rocky (western look) geological structure of Mansfield was amazing to see. The gondola ended in a nook of the Cimg3010mountain directly below a 300 sheer cliff and the ridge led south towards a rocky knob called the Nose. On the way down I passed a bunch of snowboarders heading up the ridge from the gondola. They had seen me climbing up the slopes and gave me a few nods. At the top I strapped on my ski boards and proceeded down the slushly slopes on tired, wobbly legs with very little control over the boards with my loose plastic mountaineering boots. I was able to ski down in about 15 minutes.
When I got to the bottom and was packing up the car I noticed the windshield had cracked in the sun... whoops... dad's not gonna like that one. Oh well. The drive back was uneventful and I ended up eating dinner with my dad after taking a shower at the rents. I headed out of there around 8:30 to make sure I made it back for the best show on TV - 24. And yes, Superman does where Jack Bauer Pajamas.


Sunday, April 2, 2006

Beautiful Sunday

Kerri and Meg called me this morning and asked if I wantedSunny_day_with_kerri_and_meg_4206_002
to join them for some lunch and a walk around Saratoga Park.  Of course I jumped up and showered and tried to sober up to out in the sun. :)  We walked downtown and got some bagel sandwiches at Common Ground and then walked around Sunny_day_with_kerri_and_meg_4206_004
Congress park for a bit before heading to SPAC with some blankets to lay in the sun.  We backed my truck up to the grass and played Dave Matthews (appropriate for SPAC) and just chilled out for a couple hours.  We then went back to my apartment when the sun started to go behind the trees to watch Wedding Crashers and order some Esperanza dough boys and pizza for dinner.  What a beautiful Sunday!


9 Maple with the Gang

Kerri came down to Saratoga last night to hang out with us and go out. We were of course watching the Final Four in college NCAA basketball
when she arrived. They were two blow out games. UCLA and Florida pretty much destroyed both teams and I'm guessing on Florida taking the tournament on Monday night. We talked Josh and Jess into heading out with us to the bars around 11:30pm. We all ended up at Gaffneys right away to check the scene out but Jazz_bar_with_friends_in_toga_4106_005
it was a lot queiter from the night before because there was a Skidmore Dance last night and nobody was out to the bars yet. I met up with Mike and his friend at Gaffneys and introduced them to Kerri. Jess and Josh decided to
head off to a small Jazzbar down the street called 9 Maple. Apparently you have to be 22 years old to get into it. I think they must do this to keep the rowdy drunk Skidmore kids out. At first I wasn't keen on going there but walked over with Kerri to find it a very cool, chill place to grab a few drinks - and we even got a spot at the end of the bar near the jazz band. Megan showed up just after we arrived. So, there we sat for about an hour Jazz_bar_with_friends_in_toga_4106_014
and half enjoying the music and each other's company. (check out the pics). It was nice to have the whole group out again. It must be spring time! Kerri, Megan and I decided to head to a few other bars to check out the scene because the Skidmore kids were beginning to trickle downtown to the bars. We all ended up at T&L only to find ourselves immersed in dressed up Skidmore Kids. Kerri bowed out of the scene and headed back to our apartment and Meg and I quickly followed. By that time it was nearing 3:30 am. Kerri and Megan went home and I was suprised to find that Josh and Jess had just gotten home from 9 Maple. It must have been a fun time there! Great night!


Saturday, April 1, 2006

Tuckerman's Ravine

    Early in the week I had heard that it was going to be nearly 75 degrees and sunny in Saratoga on friday.  I began to think what I should do in that weather then glanced up at my Tuckerman's Ravine poster on my wall... bingo... but who do I take.  After some thought I called up my boys Logan Jones and Jonny Hughes.  Unfortunately Logan had a busy day at work so couldn't go but Jonny was all fired up for it.  We took off Thursday night around 6pm and headed towards North Conway where I had booked a Comfort Inn hotel room for us for the night. 

    While driving through Rutland, Vt, we saw a state cop in front of us stop his car in the left Tuckermans_33106_001
lane, put his lights on, walk around his car... and proceed to beat the living hell out of whatever was in his back seat.  Jon and I had no clue what the hell had happened and neither did the line of about 10 cars now stuck behind the the thoroughly enraged officer... So, Jon and I did what anybody would do in a case of police brutality... we took a picture.. hahaha.
    The hotel we stayed in was very nice and Jon and I watched some sick mountain biking videos I had stored on my ipod over the tv in the room.  We had picked up 6 pack of guiness for the night before we got to the hotel room around 10pm and decide to just relax for the night instead of trying to go downtown to scout out local bars.
     We woke up early at about 7:30 and ate the free breakfast the hotel provided for us.  Jonny had a hole in his paper cup which he allowed to drip milk out all over the table for twenty minutes before cleaning it up.. bunch of slobs we are.  We got to Mt. Washington at about 9:15 in the morning and after gearing up and strapping our skis to our bags we hit theTuckermans_33106_003
trail around 9:30 in the morning.  Almost immediately we hit snow on the trail which made me smile because it meant the Sherburne ski trial would be mostly open all the way to the parking lot for our trip down.  We took our time going up and met many nice people headed to the bowl for the afternoon of sun and 65 degree weather.  One guy passed us skinning up the mountain (when someone attaches "skins" to the bottom of their skis that prevent the ski from sliding backwards so they can ski up the mountain with free heels).  He had a large St. Bernard with him that was carrying two six packs of beer on either side of it's back in a dog pack.  Awesome! 
    We made it to the Hermit Lake Shelter around 11am and had a 20 minute rest there for some food and pictures of the Bowl and Huntington Ravine to the left.  Jon was blown away.  Tuckermans_33106_007
He had never been out west before and had never been in a truly big mountain environment like this.  He was tired but I could see him actually gaining energy when he looked at the views around him from that point up.  I'm so glad that he was able to experience that with me.  I told him before we left that it wasn't just another ordinary ski trip.  Climbing Mt. Washington and skiing Tuckerman's Ravine with it's 70+ degree slopes and steep ascent is an epic journey and will leave you a different skier after completing it.  You will never look at a ski resort or chair lift the same after skiing Tux.  It is a "right of passage" for all hard core Northeast skiers and snowboarders because only the well prepared and experienced are able to do it without injury.  Every couple years people die in the ravine.  It is a serious alpine environment with frequent avalanches, crevasses and dangerous ice falls that come down at you in clumps the size of small cars.  Like I said... Jonny was blown away.
    We made it to the famous "lunch rocks" by noon and rested for a little bit.  The lunch rocks are where people hike up to in order to watch the young kids like us ski the ravine.  It's also a great place to lay out in the sun or toss around a ball or frisbee.  I've done tux 4 times now and once there was a guy with a saxaphone up there playin' tunes for everyone.  It's the partyTuckermans_33106_009
place of tux and it provides a 270 unobstructed view of the bowl for everyone to watch and cheer on the skiers heading down.  No more than 10 minutes after arriving at the rocks we saw a snowboarder and a skier eat it... complete yard sales the entire way down the face... their bodies cartwheeling down the slushy steeps slopes... goggles, skis, hats, gloves, poles - flying everywhere all followed by anguished groans by the nearly 50 people hangin' at the rocks.  The skier that fell tried a line through the central rocks of the headwall that took him off a 10-12 foot drop at the end over an ice fall.  When he landed he pitched forward and tumbled about 300 feet down the ravine to the base.. having to climb all the way back up to grab his ski - poor guy.
    I told Jonny to take a rest and I headed up the face of the ravine, eyeing the spot where the kid had took a digger off the ledge.  I made good time and got to the top of the ridge in about 20 minutes.  Before heading out on thursday Chris Pitts from Elevate Cycles below my apartment hooked me up with his helmet cam which I taped to the side of my 70's gold trimmed aviator glasses... that combined with the flowered hawaiian shirt I put on at the lunch rocks made for a funny site on the last day of March at 5500 feet in a bowl of snow.  I turned on some hard rock and headed over to the entrance to the rock and ice cliffs where the kid had bailed.  It was pretty intense.  The slope was incredibly steep and led straight down of a good 20+ foot ice fall... any fall would leave me careening out of control over that ledge to certain pain.  I took about 3 big hop turns (everytime I hopped I traveled about 6feet down the slope.  I was picking up speed even while jump turning, found my 12 foot ledge and hucked off it, hip checking into the slope on landing so that my skis would stay on and to absorb the impact.  In the helmet cam video you can see the shadow of my body coming off the lip of ice cliff.  After a few quick turns I was back down to the lunch rocks and Jonny who was fired up watchin' me.  He said everyone was cheering but I couldn't hear a damn thing cause I was straight rockin' it out with my ipod the whole way down (I'd never have the balls to do that with no health insurance like I did without music pumpin' in my ears). 
    Jonny geared up and we headed up the slope.  I told him to use the bindings on his skis to slam into the slope for grip heading up the steep wall.  It was about a quarter of the way up Tuckermans_33106_017
when Jonny suddenly though it would be a good time to tell me he has a problem with heights..... I may have reconsidered taking him if I had known this because climbing the headwall on Tux is like putting a later up against a 3 story building and climbing up that... but instead of a 3 story buidling picture a 50 story building.... yeah.. friggin steep.. so steep you can put your elbow out in front of you and touch the slope.  So... I told Jonny not to look down at all and to count to 20 steps before stopping each time, and to seriously slam his skis into the slope for secure grip.  If someone falls climbing up the slope they will take out everyone below them and probably slam into the lunch rocks at about 30mph... not good.  Jonny took his time and made it up with ease... although he chose not to look down into the 15' deep crevasse (in pic) weTuckermans_33106_020
had to climb around at one point.  At the top we put on our skis, turned on the helmet cam and headed down the main headwall.  The skiing lasted about 5 minutes but as Jonny can attest to... it's the sickest 5 minutes of skiing on the East Coast.  When you watch your sluff (the snow you kick up while skiing) rocket past you on a very steep slope it's really amazing.. you get the feeling of falling with the slope, not just skiing down it.  Jonny was amazed.  I'm so happy he enjoyed it.
    We got back to the lunch rocks picked up our gear and headed down the bowl as the shadows started to engulf everything (no fun skiing in shadows so everyone usually leaves by then).  On the way down to the entrance to the frozen river leading back to Hermit Lodge I took a stupid ass digger and fell on my face at about 5mph... hahaha.. cutting up my arms andTuckermans_33106_025
fingers (yup, I was dumb enough to pack my gloves away).   We struggled down the semi-frozen river to the Hermit Lake Shelter where the trail opened up nicely and we easily cruised down the moutain.  We finally reached a point where there was just too much grass to continue but we were only a 10 minute walk down the trail to the parking lot so it was ok.  We bought some stickers to put on our skis and headed out towards the Kangamangus Highway for some views on the way to The Common Man restaurant in Lincoln, NH for some dinner.
    Jonny and I had some great eats in the very ski town environment of the Common Man and headed out on 112 across NH towards home.  We saw deer and hit a frost heave on the road so hard it through the truck about a foot in the air!  In Vermont we almost hit a possum as well on the way home.  We got home around 10:30 and Jonny came down to Saratoga to go out with Mike and I for the night downtown which was a great time.  We mixed up Amp, Mt. Dew MDX and vodka to stay up for the night.  It worked and I was wired till about 3am despite the long hike, long drive and long day.  I woke up today to find a kayak paddle on the front porch... I have no clue where it came from!  Awesome!