With a storm in Boston on Thursday, and the prospect of another on Sunday, it seemed like another good weekend for skiing. Went this time to Cardigan, another mountain from my childhood, but my first time skiing. Had some excitement on the approach road, due to the fact that I don’t yet have snow tires on the Fit. Chris and Greg got out to push, but I ended up having to back down the hill and get another running start. Of course, I couldn’t stop to pick them up on the way back, so they had to run about a quarter mile uphill, to where I was able to stop on the flat. Neither was happy, and Greg will probably never let me live that down.
With the driving drama over, we met the other guys in the parking lot, and skinned up the Alexandria trail. Felt much stronger than last week, and led a fair bit of the way. Dan’s dog Tucker was actually leading, but I was breaking trail for the skiers. I wish Laika was dog enough to come on trips like this, but she’s just too small to do well on a long hike, as much as she might like it. Ella would do well though, if she were controllable. The snow field on the top of Firescrew was a little crusty, but still had some fun on the rocks, and enjoyed a tremendous view of the whole Whites (Moosilauke, Franconia Ridge, Washington, Osceloa and Tripyramid). I’m not quite an experienced enough with powder to really rip, but I had a ton of fun, and got some good face plants in. At least it doesn’t hurt to fall. After coming all the way down, we also did a quick run on the Kimball. Dinner at the Tilt’n Diner, and then back to Boston to batten down for the next storm. I wonder if I’ll be able to maintain this op-tempo…
The snow has been falling all week at Jay Peak, and I decided it was time to enjoy some of it. It just happened to be the VT Telefest, so I loaded my little car with four other tele skiers, including two newbies, and headed north. They were all undergrads from Olin, so we talked about robots, anarchist conventions, and ascetic eroticism on the drive. It’s always a gamble going on a trip with strangers, but the shared interest in the outdoors tends to ensure good people.
After a sweet powder day, and some useful lessons, we went to Moosilauke on Sunday. Despite living near the mountain, and climbing it innumerable times in the summer, I’d never skied it. Met Steve Flanders in the parking lot, which brought back good memories of carousing with him in the past. Skinned up the Snapper trail, which was a little too rocky for good downhill travel. Made a blind left turn onto the old Snapper trail, henceforth dubbed Whippersnapper, which was steeper and untracked. Had some excellent turns, drank a slushy PBR with lunch, and then bootpacked back up for a run down the Carriage Road. That was less steep, but allowed for some good speed. Instead of skinning out to the access road, we followed Greg’s crazy intuition that there was a shortcut requiring less uphill. After a stream crossing, some serious ‘shwacking up a hillside, and a briar patch, I learned not to necessarily trust Greg’s judgement. We did make it out, but the shortcut didn’t end up being so short. After a beer and steak sandwich at the Woodstock Inn, it was back to Boston for another week of work. God bless the weekend.
Spent the week at a robotics conference in San Diego, which was less the beach romp than I thought and more slow suffocation by Powerpoint. I saw right inside the belly of the military-industrial complex, and while I was pleased that the starred generals there had “saving lives” as their ultimate goal, it was clear that they are only counting American lives. One large company (name redacted) played a video of its vision for the future, which included having robots autonomously determine the threat posed by a man in a turban driving a truck toward a checkpoint, and asking Marines to let it fire on him. Of course they accepted, and disaster was averted. Another life saved by the intelligence of military robots! Of course, the robot I work on is designed to save casualties and will not be armed, but we’ve already had discussions of having it run “point man” operations, where it is the first guy through the door. Scary stuff, and I’m not sure I’ll happy to be working on it if we go that way. Might have to run back to the warm welcoming arms of academia. Going to bed now to catch up on sleep, maybe everything will be right with the world in the morning…
This weekend I drove up to the mountains for some work on the MIT cabin at Intervale. By trading my blood, sweat and tears, I now have a key to a great base for further adventures in the Whites. After cutting down trees all day on Saturday, and gorging myself with meat Saturday night, I thought a hike was only appropriate for Sunday. I convinced a few other folks to join me on a loop of Huntington and Tuckerman ravines on Mt Washington. I didn’t tell them that the AMC guidebook lists the route as the “most difficult regular hiking trail in Whites.” If they had been warned, they might not have followed me into the breach.
As it was, they were glad they came. It was a gorgeous, clear fall day, with just the right chill in the air to take the edge off the strenuous climb. The trail starts off on the regular Tucks highway, but after Huntington diverges, becomes very steep. There are parts that require hand over hand climbing, and those unsure of their footing might prefer a rope. I made like a mountain goat and scampered up. Having trail running shoes as opposed to real boots was a blessing, because I could jam my feet in cracks and smear on smooth faces. We topped out of the ravine in the Alpine Garden, and I remembered that it was one of the places we scattered Ann’s ashes years ago. I said a silent prayer as we walked across the field, enjoying the sunshine and the spectacular view. Then we turned left and came down Lion’s Head, instead of Tuckerman. Had dinner at a family restaurant in Lincoln, where they had a painted saw with hymns and a cross on it. A cultural experience, to say the least. Then a hurried drive back to Boston, and an exhausted shower. The perfect end to a perfect weekend.
I guess I’m officially an adult now; working for the man every night and day. But I’ve still been able to get out and enjoy the summer. We celebrated Klara’s last week in town with a trip to the Harbor Islands. This was the first visit in my memory, although Janet informs me that I was taken there as a little tyke. I probably had as much fun this time exploring the fort and watching the re-enactors fire their cannon as I did when I was four. Standing in a pitch black room, lit only by a single shaft of light from above, we practiced our maniacal laughter. Had a picnic lunch overlooking the harbor, and then took the interisland ferry to a smaller island where Hana and I napped on the beach while the others explored the abandoned WWII battlements.