The weather cooperated so we planned another winter trip to the Cabin. This was the first winter trip with the whole crew including Frankie and Teddy! Things worked out so that I could head up early by myself, open the place up, and spend a few days before everyone else arrived. As has become normal, I headed to the Cabin late on 23 Dec, drove all night, stopped at the rest area in Seney, then drove in to the trail head to get on the trail at the break of dawn. We were able to park at Ballard's (right at the trail head!) which was a great convenience. I rigged up a simple sled to tow in my gear. It worked great. It was a pretty easy ski in and the sled made it easy to haul in my gear. I plan on using it more in the future.
The big difficulty in the trip was getting into the Cabin. There had been an early, heavy snow so many trees were bent over making the entrance to the was driveway tricky to navigate. The trees did a good job of blocking the path and the snow was deep enough to make moving around hard.
It was not too cold, I arrived to about 30°F inside the Cabin. This was the first trip where we used the new fireplace insert. I took some time trying to get used to it. It took awhile and some more work is needed. It works quite well in getting to about 60°F and does a very good job of keeping it there, but it seems that it is putting out more heat than we are seeing.
I had my usual shot of Krupnik and did not do much else during the day. Getting the place opened up, the trails to the sheds and out house dug out/flattened down, etc. all takes time when done alone.
Christmas at the Cabin also resulted in using the flag pole for the first time in the winter. I snowshoed the driveway a couple of times to beat down the path so it could form a more solid base for the snowmobiles that were to arrive later in the week. I also took time to clear the overhanging branches from the driveway to make it easier to get in and out.
I decided to get the wood stove in the bunk room going. Imagine my surprise when I opened it up and saw a huge mouse nest in it! I took the whole mess outside, and, imagine my further surprise when a mouse came out of it! The mouse sat for awhile before running back to the Cabin and back inside through one of the many holes!
The main reason for getting the wood stove going was to get a bed of coals I could use for cooking dinner. A simple meal I now typically make is sausage and vegetables wrapped in foil and cooked in the coals. It came out great.
I went out for a short snowshoeing trip around the Cabin. It became clear that the early heavy snow bent over and/or damaged many trees. Standard paths, such as the loop, were all but blocked due to the trees bent over by the early snow, with their tops then further buried and frozen in the bent position for the rest of the season.
A little bit of snow finally fell putting a nice fresh layer of snow on the ground and the trees. I took this opportunity to explore more around the Cabin and see the sights.
The rest of the crew was expected to arrive so I took a survey of the area to make sure everything was set. The flag was flying, the driveway was cleared, and the path to the outhouse was ready.
The first snowmobiles arrived at about 2pm. It took two trips to get everyone and all the gear in. The weather was not very good. It rained awhile and kept us inside for most of the day.
Even with the rain the previous day there was plenty of snow and it packed well. Naturally Frankie and Teddy took advantage of this and were happy to play for hours outside. Later in the day some short snowshoeing trips were taken.
The oven was out of commission so we had to cook on the grill. Yes, we made pizza on the grill. It came out great.
As is usual, Jon made huge breakfasts with plenty of bacon. As an added bonus we had Spam this morning. If you look closely, yes, the date on that can of Spam was 10/14 (so the Spam was brought up and left in the Cabin in October, 2014).
Bill introduced a new game to the Cabin, Settlers of Catan. This was a big hit with Frankie and Teddy in particular. They set up to play it frequently.
We finally got some real winter weather. We got some decent snow so had to take advantage of it. We snowshoed the loop. Well, I skied it. It turns out the old fashioned snowshoes I had used on every prior trip finally gave out. The mesh on them began to break in a number of places so I could not use them anymore. In fact, my ski boot also finally gave out. Again, this was the original, old style, leather, 3 prong binding ski boot I had been using for decades. I taped it up with some electrical tape and that was good enough for the rest of the trip. This made things even rougher since trying to follow the smaller trails required a lot of maneuvering around branches. They were quite thick in many places.
To further take advantage of the weather the whole group skied along McCloud Grade prior to dinner.
As the evening wore on the propane tank finally was nearly empty. The lights started dimming so we compensated by using flashlights diffused through some of the water jugs. Though the gas was running low, it lingered, and lingered, and lingered. We finally called it good enough and replaced the tank.
The good weather continued with more snow falling in the morning. It always makes a huge difference to get fresh snow. Everything looks nicer and everything is more fun.
We finally took our standard trip to the Lucky Buck. Everyone skied (except Budek). It was a nice trip, despite the fact that it was along the snowmobile trial (443 still runs up that way despite most trail maps showing it splits off of Mc Cloud grade, not that I am bitter or anything).
What really needs to be said?
As usual there was another huge meal. This time pasta, a Cabin staple. Afterward was the wait for the new year.
As is usual we did not quite make it all the way to midnight. You can tell since Vittoria is actually still awake. It must have been midnight somewhere, so we welcomed in the new year.
We finally had to head home. It was a beautiful day and it was hard to leave. I had been up for a week and I could have stayed longer! It was the first winter trip for Frankie and Teddy, hopefully there will be many more.