Since last weekend, New Hampshire has received some snow, some rain, some melting temperature, and a hard freeze. Usually, I head north to be challenged by steeps and bumps. This time, I was confronted by a garage door embedded in a solid block of ice. It was eventually dislodged by a lot of boiling water, but that created a new problem: how to clear it before re-freezing caused the same problem all over again? While not impressive as jtidwell's use of her mountaineering axe as a stairway de-icer, I nominate the service of my kayak pump to the same pathetic awards ceremony.
Once the skis were liberated, we set off to find some good cross-country paths. The same weather that trapped the garage door also turned the ski trails into a nasty trench of icy snow surrounded by a bulletproof shell of crust. The dog was able to trot but not run without punching through. Meanwhile, I started to worry about my ability to get down a steep, icy trail too narrow to snowplow. After a mile or two, we bailed and awkwardly skidded back to the car.
Driving back on the Kanc, the views were amazing from the highpoint picnic area. On a whim, I had thrown sleds in the car and decided that the ice fields here would make a sporting place for some impromptu downhill. The trick to sledding on death cookies is not to punch through: maintain your speed and balance, and you'll zip over the top. Slow down or shift your weight too far forward, and your sled will fall through the crust and embed itself, sending you assoverteakettle. This is called fun.
Day 2. I was worried about the armored snow south of the Kanc, but Cannon surprised me. They apparently received little rain and the groomers had done their job, so the first 3 hours on the snow were wonderful. With uncharacteristically clear views, I sped down grippy corduroy and felt that perfect rush of technique elements slotting into place. It turns out that my right knee doesn't hurt if it's not fighting ill-placed ice patches. Around 11, clouds formed, the wind picked up, and the temperature dropped. The good snow was scraped off to reveal an ice base and conditions had returned to New England nominal. But at least I had those few great hours.
A mixed weekend, but fun in its own way. I'll take it.