I booked this weekend at Bryant Camp over a month ago. It’s a newly renovated cabin a mile up a backcountry ski trail in Bolton Valley. The end of February should be perfect skiing weather, right? Not any more. It was in the 50s-60s all week and we lost tons of snow in the thaw. And Saturday was projected to be 50 and raining. We had to look at it as more of a fun cabin weekend than a ski weekend, and lots of drinks and games were brought.
I met Jenn and Owen at the resort after dark. We had more people coming from Portsmouth so we debated just waiting for them at the bar, but they were still over an hour out and we headed up the trail. I had been on this trail before so I knew where it was, but I had trouble figuring out how to get through the buildings to the trailhead. We finally found it, I texted Chuckles some hopefully helpful directions with a picture of a shed near the trail, then got ready for the climb.
The cabin is only a mile up the trail, and I borrowed a pulk for the weekend. So just like my first time canoe camping, I loaded up for this trip like I was car camping. I had dragged a sled full of firewood up this trail before so I knew how steep it was. Maybe I packed a little too much in the pulk this time, but I was really not going fast. Jenn made me give the pulk to Owen instead to slow him down. Despite that it was after 9pm on a February night, it was around 40° and we were surrounded by a warm fog and even warmer winds. We were definitely sweating getting to the cabin.
One perk of the unseasonably warm temperatures was that we wouldn’t have to worry about being too cold in the uninsulated cabin. It does have a wood stove and we got a fire going when we arrived, but that was more for something to do than for the warmth. We settled in and tried to stay up waiting for the rest of the group but eventually went to bed at 11:30. Chuckles, Spoon, Jon, and Alicia arrived shortly after, having had a resort employee decide to walk them up most of the fog-shrouded trail.
The next day, we had a lazy morning while deciding what to do. We ended up heading downhill to the Nordic Center to hang out some more, then finally decided to split up, with some people snowshoeing and some people skiing. Even though the conditions weren’t great, I figured I should ski and try to get better at it. Unfortunately, there are very limited easy trails at Bolton, and I could only do so many of the same laps before calling it quits.
It was starting to get really nice out, with the sun coming out instead of rain, and 60° instead of the forecasted 50°. We had a snack at the resort and then headed back to the cabin. The trail was definitely thawing as we walked on it and the snow bridges over streams were getting much narrower. The sun felt amazing though. I even opened a bunch of windows when we got back to the cabin to bring the warmth in.
I got the fire going again while waiting for the snowshoers to return. The rain held off until everyone was back in the cabin and it was dark. The temperature was dropping quickly so the rain soon turned to sleet and then snow. After cooking dinner, we had a great night of storytelling and board games (PS – Telestrations is awesome).
Alicia had grown up with the same woodstove as was in the cabin so she took over fire tending that evening. The stove was definitely keeping it warm in there (relatively – we still had puffies and hats on but were warm with them). As a matter of fact, the sleeping loft was so hot overnight I woke up roasting and had to get rid of a bunch of layers. Jon even moved downstairs to escape the heat. That wasn’t a bad problem to have though since I had heard of many other guests freezing. It got down to around 20° that night but was probably in the 40s inside, and warmer upstairs.
I had heard there was a mouse who lived in the cabin named Fat Mouse but hadn’t seen any sign of him until Sunday morning when he came out of nowhere and curled up on Alicia’s socked foot as she stood in front of the stove. That’s a bold move but he was just looking for warmth. When she noticed and tipped him off, he moved to the corner behind the stove and did not care that more and more people were waking up and making noise. Occasionally he would move to the front of the stove and curl up on someone’s drying boot to get on a better level with the heat. Normally I hate shelter mice but I kind of felt bad for Fat Mouse.
We had another lazy morning, played some more games, and then packed up, cleaned up, and headed down the trail. We had about 2″ of snow overnight so the trail downhil was beautiful and all the trees were covered. It felt like winter again.