As a last push to find some measure of winter (defined by me as including skiable snow, not just being cold out), Jordan and I pushed out to the new Opus Hut tucked in the southern end of the San Juan Mountains. We had invited a number of other folks, but by the virtue that we scheduled our trip mid week, most of the working world wasn’t able to comply. So Jordan and I set out on this trip on our own. This was her first ski hut trip (though, she did get herself up to Gray Knob a few years ago) and she said it pushed her a bit more than she would have liked.
Back in the fall of 2006 I enjoyed a beautiful season as the caretaker for a cabin in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. This weekend, I’m back in the small mountain town of Randolph to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Randolph Mountain Club (RMC) with many of the great people who have also served as caretakers as well as those who have worked on the trail crew. On Saturday morning Al (who hired me to be the caretaker) and I hiked up to Crag Camp where we sat in the mountain sunshine and chatted with a few folks who stayed up there that night. We then hiked over to Gray Knob Cabin where I lived for two months. The large logbook on the table only had a dozen blank pages left and was the one I had started while working there. It was fun to read the entry I wrote about the first substantial snowfall that season on the first page. I wrote a little note to document this visit and headed back down.
That evening over 150 people gathered for dinner (I made a pot of chili to contribute), dessert, RMC trivia, and photos of previous caretakers and trail crews from each decade represented. We even did a photo of RMC Antarcticans as it seems this little club sends quite a few folks down to the ice.
Below are some of the photos I took as a caretaker in the White Mountains. Photos of the reunion are most likely to be found on the RMC website.
Click on any image to see more photos or to buy a print.
Click on “Full Story” below or the title above for a quick look at a few more images.
After getting off the Kongakut, rest certainly was not an option! We’re in Alaska for crying out loud! So, after the 6 hour drive from Fairbanks to Anchorage, we unpacked the car, re-packed the car, loaded kayaks, dropped off rented bear barrels at REI and started the 4 hour drive to Homer.
With the summer solstice having just passed by only the overcast sky really made it seem dark, but we never needed flashlights, even while setting tents up in the rain about halfway to Homer. We must have pulled into the campground around 1am and slept until 9am.
The Routeburn Track on the South Island of New Zealand is designated as one of the “Great Walks” in New Zealand. That means beautiful terrain, awe-inspiring views and luxury (by camping and trekking standards) style accommodation. It also means it’s guaranteed to be expensive and crowded. Ah well. It’s ultimately worthwhile sharing earth’s beauty. And it’s certainly tolerable the way the New Zealand Department of Conservation manages the number of people that come up.
The Buckly Transport shuttle picked Derek and me up right outside our hostel the same morning we called and took us from Queenstown directly to the trailhead. Not 20 meters in we crossed a span bridge over some of the clearest water I’ve ever seen. Further up the stream, pools of sunlit water glowed bright blue against the pure white of bubbly, churning water flowing into them. The stark dark shadows of trees spilled in creating a frame with the sparkling rocks around the whole scene. This was a good start.
Once in the woods the wide, well-established trail made for easy walking and allowed us to gawk at the surrounding beauty rather than where we placed our feet. An endless carpet of ferns and small lush shrubs covered the forest floor, split only by the meandering white rocky path. Criss-cross patterns of sunlight and shadows floated down from the canopy above.
The Sierra has truly been blessed this year with record snow fall. So, although the weather this spring and early summer has been warm, there is still plenty of snow in the beautiful backcountry. With that in mind, some colleagues at Atlas Snow-Shoe Company came up with the wild idea to do a traditional skiing route across the Sierra-Nevada mountain range on snowshoes. While this was admittedly for our own personal fun, we could justify it as a work trip to test the snowshoes.
The result was a 45 mile trek across the breadth of the Sierra. We started just east of Independence, off Highway 395, and hiked up Symmes Creek. After 12,000 feet of vertical gain and traveling and camping for six days above 11,000 feet, we arrived at the Wolverton Ski Area in Sequoia National Park. The route is usually done on skis with a few mountaineering sections to get over the highest passes, including Milestone Col on the Great Western Divide at over 13,000 feet.