It's been a rough snowshoe season so far. It looked like we'd get snow in the first part of November, but then it melted off. We got new gear for nightshoeing, but there was still no snow. Winter teased us with a couple of brilliant cold days, but the snow was still lacking.
Every time we'd get a tease of snow it was paired with a warming trend and rain. This led to my darkest post for Tubbs yet.
It wasn't until the end of December that we had enough snow for real adventures like nightshoeing with the kids (and their awesome light-up snowshoes that we're giving away). So needless to say I was chomping at the bit to get out.
That's where the poor suckers that didn't know any better came into play. It's true that I've embarked on my fair share of poorly planned adventures. This has led to epic bushwhacks, great stories, and more than a few hefty medical bills. It's also led to at least a couple of "broken" hiking companions that suddenly find other things to do when I ask if they're busy.
But these three... They were fresh meat. Ready for a true MAAD trip. ("MAAD" stands for Moosefish Adventure After Dark, but that's not a term used since a fateful trip back in 2009.) These three were ready for Kendall Knob.
Don't get me wrong. Kendall Knob is a delightful little romp. It's about four miles round trip and 1,700 feet of gain. (If you look at a map or guidebook you'll see a substantially longer route that sticks to the road. Where we go we don't need roads.)
However, even on the penultimate day of December the snow was so thin that the bottom third of the route was more of a bushwhack than a snowshoe. If you've never had the pleasure of trying to navigate through slide alder in snowshoes you really must try it. You'll love it.
(It was during this section I heard one of my newfound/former friends say, "Never again, John!" which I took to mean, "This is the best time I've ever had! Never again will I doubt you, John!")
Above the slide alder was the steep part of the climb. While picking our way through the branches required dexterity and finesse, the slope called for stamina and determination. Each one of us, new and old, experienced the joy of quad burn on the steepest sections, but very little slipping thanks to the Tubbs snowshoes we were wearing. (Did I mention I outfitted several folks from out of town from my personal fleet of 15 pairs of snowshoes? No. I don't have a problem.)
Finally, we got into dry, fluffy powder beneath a cold, clear sky. The thermometer read 10F and it was thankfully windless. We pushed higher into the best part of the route. It's fairly flat and open, winding through small trees below the "summit."
Surprisingly, there was already someone at our destination. I suppose I shouldn't have been surprised since there was another car at the trailhead, but seeing a tent lit up was nonetheless a shocker.
Treen wasn't too happy in the bitter cold so I got out her portable bed and rubbed her paws. She was much happier until I put the Mountain Tutu on her. After that she was inconsolable even after I put the tutu on myself.
I, on the other hand, was in love with the beautiful night and great company. I poured some hot cocoa (and maybe something else), which really helped get the blood flowing again.
Our trip down wasn't fast, but creative route finding by one of my usual adventure buddies, Scott, let us bypass the alders even if it meant a little more road walking.
Every time I've been up Kendall Knob it's been a great trip and this was another one. Some are good for the views or the conditions, but this was best for the company. I love meeting new people and getting to know them while adventuring is so much easier for me than at a bar or a party.
Actually, with the cocoa and such at the top it was kind of like being at a bar or a party...