The Bowdoin Outing Club encourages students to dream, organize and lead outdoor trips. This fellowship offers the financial support to shape the most creative and adventurous outdoor visions into real opportunities. The expedition should foster a spirit of adventure and encourage personal challenges and skill development and in the end, contribute to the growth of the Bowdoin Outing Club.


Thursday, February 27, 2014

"Skiing Vermont's Catamount Trail: 
The Story of How We Did Something Completely Different"

We totally did the "Catamount Trail"

Our trip to the Catamount Ski Trail began with us driving right past Vermont to upstate New York’s Five Ponds Wilderness due to a lack of snow in Vermont. We had planned to ski one hundred miles along the Catamount Trail, but several warm spells had reduced most of the Northeast’s snowpack to a few inches at best. However, things looked promising and we headed to our first campsite at Janack’s Landing on Cranberry Lake.

The trail started off even and snowy...
Partway through the day, we ended up removing our skis as the weather warmed up and the snow began caking. After several involved river crossings and arduous sledular navigational tasks we made it to our lean-to on the lake. The night was spent exploring the mysteries of the frozen Cranberry Lake, namely a shiny plastic cone.
"But what does it mean?"
Day two also started off promising, though the warm weather again quickly thwarted our efforts to cross-country ski along the trails. The trails were also becoming uncreasingly uneven and rocky; we just couldn’t ski. After removing our skis, we hiked to a massive beaver dam. With a little bridge building and sled shuffling we safely got ourselves and our gear across the river and continued on our way.  

Dam beavers
Once across, we hid our gear in the woods and made a side trip, bushwhacking up Cat Mountain. The top (though only a modest 2267 feet) had a great view showcasing thousands of blown-down trees from a righteous storm back in the ‘90s.  

"Shhh I'll sneak up on him"
We changed our plan slightly and camped at the Cowhorn Pond Lean-to due to the snail’s pace we had been managing all day. Our campsite featured a sick boat that we used to tow each other around the pond. 

Paddling was not an option
We also made a snowman and videotaped Dan destroying it with a flying ninja kick.

Day three was rough, rainy, and treacherous. We walked back to our sleds and dragged them to a trail junction, where we stashed them for the next few days. After a few hours of wet slogging, we got to an awesome campsite at High Falls. This area hasn't been ravaged by logging, so we got to see a lot of virgin pines that went Beyond even The Bowdoin Pines in grandeur, age, and beauty. 

Where's Karl?
The campsite was situated within earshot of the roaring falls and was surrounded by towering pine trees.

Also this thing
The next morning, we awoke to a light dusting of snow on the ground.  We shouted to the heavens, “Too little, too late Nature!” to which she had no response.  After a few hours of hiking, we reached some parts of the trail that had entirely transformed into a swamp, leading to a bit more bushwhacking and a few unfortunate foot dunkings.  

Dan's goal of the day was to keep his feet dry. He dunked them twenty minutes later.
By early afternoon we decided to backpack no farther. Wet boots, wet feet, blisters, and a beautiful campsite meant we were staying put for the day. We dropped our gear at the lean-to (Big Shallow), put on our stylish fanny packs, and went out to explore nearby while there was still daylight. 

Fanny packs are in style
Once back at camp, we got the opportunity to make a fire as some past hikers had kindly left a lot of dry wood in the lean-to. We decided to stay at the lean-to for the next night as well.

With our fannies stuffed, we started the next day heading out on the trail for Sand Lake, with the intention of bushwhacking up to another lake. Turns out Karl can’t read a map, so that didn’t work and we just did an out and back, with a quick stop at the Wolf Pond lean-to. It’s too bad we weren’t able to stay there; it may have been the nicest of all the campsites we encountered. Meanwhile, Kyle spent the day in camp as he recovered from some foot ailments.   

"Go on without me..."
That night, we stood on the lake enjoying the full moon and cool trees. The sunset that day wasn’t bad either. 

It would've been nicer if it didn't mean it was time for bed at 6 PM
On the way back to Janack’s Landing, we picked up our skis and sleds. We arrived in the early afternoon and that’s when the magic happened. Cranberry lake was fully frozen with a thin layer of powder, making for some fast skiing conditions. We skied 8 miles straight down and back the lake. It was as close to flying as a we’ve ever come with our feet on the ground. By some miracle we hit 25 mph and saw a magnificent sunset that looked like a demon face. We spent the night eating copious amounts of chili and listening to the ominous, tumultuous, heaving cacophony of ice cracking (it sounds like whales shooting lasers at each other). Karl also got a good look at some pretty neat caddisfly larvae in a stream.

The next morning we all went for a pre sunrise ski and caught the beginning of the day sitting in the middle of the huge lake. We trudged through the last few miles to get out at Wanakena.  Once there, we regaled the bored old man at the General Store with tales of our successes. In return he told us about how the town and its historic foot bridge got wrecked by some ice flows, which we checked out before leaving. 

Ice versus Town. Ice wins.

Putting together a satisfying and tasty menu for a long trip is not an easy task. It's especially difficult when some group members have dietary restrictions. Kyle only likes to eat “healthy” things. Dan is intolerant of both gluten and dairy. Karl doesn’t eat any meat. Peter eats anything and everything. While preparing our meals with our limited cooking equipment (two pots and a frying pan) we had to be really careful about keeping ingredients separate. We usually cooked as much as possible in one pot and then added the rest to our own individual bowls. Overall it worked out very well; we were full of tasty food after each dinner and we nailed it on portion estimation (no unhappy games of yum-yum).

Here’s a quick outline of our dinners, which include some BOC staples along with some new delicious creations:

Pesto Chicken Pasta:
• pasta (or gluten-free "pasta" for Dan)
• pesto
• bell peppers
• onions
• canned chicken
• cheese

Stir Fry:
• pasta
• thai flavoring packets
• bell peppers
• onions
• peanut butter

Pizza Pasta:
• pasta
• tomato paste
• pepperoni
• cheese
• bell peppers
• onion

Mexican Night: (so good we had it twice)
• rice
• instant beans
• avocados
• bell peppers
• onions
• salsa
• cheese
• tortillas

Quinoa Chili
• instant beans
• quinoa
• bell peppers
• onions
• tomato paste

* we also ate two pounds of raw garlic, divided roughly evenly among our dinners

We actually smelled like garlic

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