I’ve been really looking forward to this stay at Bolton Lodge. A newly renovated GMC camp, I’d seen it at the opening celebration in December and it looked fantastic. Unlike last February’s stay at nearby Bryant Camp, we had actual winter weather (highs in the teens to 20s) and snow cover for the weekend.
I got to the parking area closest to the cabin just at sunset and started snowshoeing my way up the Catamount Trail. It’s only 2/3 mile in so I arrived before full dark. I was pleasantly surprised to find a stack of firewood already inside but I still brought in several armloads before I got the wood stove going. The top loading stove there draws so well that the fire was quickly started and built while I made tea and cooked dinner on my camp stove. I set up all my gear after dinner, then I settled in near the stove with a Long Trail book while I waited for the others to arrive.
Jenn and Michael got there later than planned so I was actually just finishing up the short book when they arrived. They got their dinner cooked while I kept stoking the fire and then we waited for Owen to get there. My back was starting to hurt from sitting on a backless bench for hours so I made a few forays outside to stretch and enjoy the just-past-full moon, then I got in bed just to be in a different position. Owen finally arrived and we all went to sleep shortly after.
The low overnight was -5F and the fire definitely wasn’t going to keep burning without help the whole night. I heard Jenn up adding wood to the fire at one point, and I got up and rebuilt it around 4:30. I was warm enough in bed, with lots of layers on, but the air in the cabin was definitely cold for most of the night. Once everyone got up in the morning, we really built it up and got some great coals going to warm everyone.
We were still waiting for Dan and Lindsay to arrive so we decided to walk back down to the cars and drive up to the Nordic Center to ski. Jenn and I stuck to the easy trails while Michael and Owen headed off for some more advanced stuff. I never skied as much as I wanted last winter so I’m still pretty nervous on any sort of hill but we practiced a few loops on the green circle trails before going inside for lunch.
Dan and Lindsay met us then and Jenn decided to take them to the cabin to drop their stuff off and then snowshoe back up to the Nordic Center, while I decided to keep practicing my skiing. I did a few more runs on the green loops and then ran into Michael and Owen coming down from their route. They came with me to try out some blue square trails that had been recommended to me as good practice for hills and I did better than I expected.
When we finished, we went back to the resort and met the other three in the pub for a quick drink and appetizers before heading back to the cabin. They all snowshoed back but I decided to ski back. It was 1.5 miles down a blue square trail, which turned into black diamond just at the end, but I’d been told it was all fairly easy, gradual downhill. Michael is a good skier and chaperoned me.
Whenever I’m skiing downhill, I’m pretty much trying to stop the whole time, which slows me down enough to where I’m comfortable. I prefer hills that aren’t too long and end in level parts so I have somewhere to actually slow down and don’t just keep gaining speed. I was doing okay on the way down, keeping my speed down enough and making the turns okay. Then at the very end, the hill just kept going, and I kept gaining speed, and I could see it was ending at a turn onto a bridge. I was going a little too fast for comfort and afraid I wasn’t going to make the turn and instead go flying off the bridge, so I bailed and fell over. Turns out the cabin was just beyond that bridge. Almost made it! But I was still proud of myself for getting there, fall or no.
We carried in more wood for the night, got the stove going, then started dinner. My dinners are so easy that I think I was finished eating before anyone else even had theirs cooked. I moved on to tea and snacks while everyone else ate their meals.
After cleaning up, a few peope went out for a short walk in the moonlight while a few of us stayed in to learn the rules to a card game I got for Christmas – Bang! The rules are exensive but it was a lot of fun once we figured it out.
It stayed above zero our second night, and we had a much better bed of coals going before going to sleep this time. The fire still had to be tended to in the night but someone would throw wood on whenever they got up to pee so it worked out. I didn’t even need to sleep in all my layers this time!
After breakfast, Dan had mountaineering class for us. We went over various knots, hitches, and security roping and harnessing. We were going to practice self-arresting with ice axes but there wasn’t really an appropriate slope to do it on so instead we hiked out.
We snowshoed down to the cars at the closer parking lot, then drove back up to our other cars at the Nordic Center.
Shoutout to my new Luminaid Lantern, which lasted at least eight hours at full brightness, then came back on for more after a quick USB charge. It can also be solar charged, which is handy. The light diffuses so well that it brightens up quite a large area and was really great for this type of camp situation.