Monday, March 07, 2011

Friday Vacation at Jackson XC

This winter has been a truly great winter if you like to participate in winter activities that require snow. Although we were on early track to break records, it was not a record year, at least, not so far. The early winter was brutal with multiple storms weekly, multiple weeks in a row. This pushed the snow-pack to points that we had not seen in years. Even after the snow tapered last month, there was enough to keep the conditions relatively consistent. Up north they rebounded from a slow early season start to get a spectacular year. The conditions for XC skiing and snowmobiling have been superb.

Last weekend we took Friday off, made the break, and headed north to get in one more weekend of snow fun. We were not disappointed. Despite a cool start with -12F Friday morning, there was a promise of daily highs in the 20's so we packed up and headed to Jackson Touring Center for some skate skiing. By the time we arrived the temp was in the high teens and the sun was bright. The battle plan was to try something different and do the east side first. It had been years since we had skied that area and memory didn't hold it too highly.

Conditions were about as good as you could ask for.

What we didn't realize, but were told by the ticket agent, was that a great deal of development had been done on that side. The map showed numerous small loop trails and lots of up and down as well as a bunch of flat field runs. To get to the trails, which link together the Wentworth golf course and resort as well as a number of other Inn's, you cross the road, ski through a field and then start up.

The initial climb is a good one and a shock as well, given that you are not fully warmed up and in fact, barely started skiing. At the top you cross another road and then you are on the trail system. There are loops in the fields and a number of loop trails off the main trail, the Wave. These trails are side hill, up and down, roller-coaster rides and were a ton of fun. We hit those trails as well as making a number of loops on the trails in the various fields and golf greens, basically linking up almost everything on that side. Back down to the visitor center and we grabbed some lunch at the J-Town Deli, logging 15 miles and one and half hours moving.

That's enough given that I can barely move.

After lunch we were tired but opted for another crack at the Ellis River trail out and back. This meant nice gradual up on the way out and downhill on the way back. The plan was to go as far as we felt comfortable and turn back. I decided that I was going for the Rocky Branch parking lot off RT16, which is the end of the Ellis River Trail. Cathy opted for a little less. The final push to the lot was torture and the last few miles on the way back I was on fumes. Finished up for the day nearly crippled but with 30 miles in 3:03 moving time in the pain bank. My longest XC ski day ever.

It never ceases to amaze me what can be done with the right equipment in the hands of seasoned professionals. From trail design to grooming, to the facilities and staff, Jackson rocks. We changed up, visited with our friend Mark who was manning the ski shop at the Jackson Touring Center did some shopping as well. I'm a sucker for a sale, especially when it's on good quality ski gear that is really tough to find. From there it was back to J-Town for some coffee for the trip back through Pinkham Notch and home to Bethel. What a great day.

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