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Grab a reeb. It's a long one.

Having enjoyed my fair share of powder days for December and January, I 
headed to the backcountry with Maria. Neither one of us had ever checked 
out the goods on Camel’s Hump, and Ben’s pictures along with stories from 
friends made it sound like an enticing destination. So we decided to head out 
and see what was up for ourselves.

I was all about getting out early and finding the last of the great powder 
before the thaw. However, I was also aware that we were going on recon 
mission to learn the lines and that there was no guarantee we’d find the best 
shots. The day, in fact, ended up being a backcountry comedy of errors, 
which I am sure was spurred on by the outpouring of skiing folly confessions. 
It was like one of my dreams/nightmares come true.

The previous night I had gone up to BV to pick up Maria’s gear from the Ski 
Patrol shack. (Conveniently, I had to pick up my gear at the bottom of the 
hill.) As I approached Ski Patrol the door opened revealing a couple of crusty 
old BV patrollers ;). They looked at me funny when I told them what I wanted, 
but went inside to grab Maria’s gear after I described it in detail…blue K2s, 
flowers, tele setup…and I was off down the hill toward home.

The next morning by 7:30 we’re all geared up and ready to go. I popped my 
trunk to take out the boards and Maria’s face fell. “Those aren’t my skis,” she 
said. TIHS! Luckily Maria lives really close to the trailhead so we headed to her 
house to call BV. Maria talked to the owner of the skis who gave her the 
thumbs up to ski ‘em. Relieved and already late on our start time, we slipped 
into a mode where time is no longer of the essence. The kitchen, coffee, and 
conversation were comfortable. 

We didn’t dawdle too long, though, and were hiking by 9:00. I had heard of a 
nice line north of the cliffs off the Alpine Trail. Around noon we ducked in 
there to explore. There weren’t any track going in and the trail was not 
obvious. The low branches of the trees were heavy with snow and hung over 
the trail. With my board on my back, I kept ducking and trying not to get hung 
up in the trees and not to get too much snow down my back. (I couldn’t 
remember why I like to hike in my raincoat so I didn’t bring it…I remembered.) 
After about .3 grueling miles, the trail disappeared into the overhanging 
boughs. We couldn't see any blazes, and the only option was to hike down 
some to check it out. At this point, we were both running low on energy and 
didn’t relish the possibly of having to hike back up if the trail was not to be 
found. We also knew that we had at least another .3 miles to go. So we 
turned around and hiked back out to the Monroe Trail. Once there we 
proceeded up to the hut clearing, but stopped just shy of it due to strong 
winds and low energy.

I got a few powdery turns at the top, but as for the next 1.5 miles…well, let’s 
suffice it to say that there’s gotta be a way down that’s more fun than a 
narrow worm hole where you can’t see what’s around the next bend and you 
know there’s open water somewhere…in more than one spot, really…and you’re 
glad you wore a helmet because it’s taking a beating from the branches 
hanging into the trail…a fun factor of 3, an adventure factor of 7…east coast 
survival skiing…

We were glad to get down to the cliffs and followed a skin track made by a 
friend earlier in the day below the cliffs. That was a mistake. In going so far 
in, we missed a bunch of sweet looking lines. We saw them after we 
descended a short ways and traversed back towards the trail, ending up 
under the line we had come for. I thought about hiking back up to get ‘em. 
Alas, I was too tired to rally, and it was getting late. 

We continued, I in my snowshoes, and Maria basically cross-country skiing. I 
was getting really frustrated by this point. All I wanted to do was put my 
board on and go downhill! Was it too much to ask of a mountain? Finally, we 
found some pitch and powder. It’s amazing how few perfect turns it takes to 
make a long, hard day worthwhile. I appreciated the lleh out of those turns…
felt every second of each glide and float, soaked it in, reveled in the soft 
fluffiness and the ease of movement. 

And then came the schwackiest run-out known to humankind. Man, it lasted 
forever…and then there was the trail again. We were out. 4:00, light fading, 
legs toast, and smiling.

I’ll do it again. (I’ll try just about anything twice.) I did my research and 
information gathering, marked a few waypoints, inspected terrain, saw where 
other people’s track were coming from, and got a pretty good idea of how to 
do it better next time. 

Uploading is taking forever tonight. There'll be pics here soon.
http://powderplayvt.blogspot.com

Special Bonus Features and Humbling Experiences of the Day
*Running into old friends in the middle of the woods.
*Making new friends in the middle of the woods.
*Two shirtless guys hauling ssa up the trail in snowshoes toting boards on 
their backs.
*Maria doing the splits in an attempt to cross a creek on the high line.
*Rachel landing upside down, on her back, in a creek after attempting to 
shoot a high, tight line between two rather large areas of open water that you 
couldn’t see until you were right on them. She emerged miraculously dry.
*Maria being a typical tele skier and justifying all the traversing by 
saying, “It’s all still skiing.” Meanwhile, Rachel pines for pitch.
*Less than a mile from the car Rachel’s camel back busts a leak, and a liter of 
water flows into her pack.

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