With a healthy dose of skepticism, I drove up to the Great Glen Trails this morning. Reports were they were skiing on a nice base of natural snow, but they said don't bring your good skis. My skepticism remained high for nearly the entire drive. There was a little snow in Plymouth, but most other areas were quite devoid of snow. Even arriving in Gorham, the snow looked old and burned off by the sun in open areas. However, as I drove up Rt 16 towards Mt Washington, the landscape changed dramatically in just the last two miles. There was snow there indeed.
After buying a reduced fee trail pass (bonus!), I was eager to see what they had. The temp was quite mild, around freezing and rising. Skies were intermittently sunny. The summit of Mt Washington remained socked in with clouds all day.
They hadn't yet filled the tunnel under Rt 16 with snow. Once I put my skis back on after walking through, I was skiing in near mid-winter conditions. The coverage was excellent, and the snow was surprisingly well packed. I never pushed through the base. I could just as well brought my best skis. Nearly all of the trails were groomed for skate and classic. Just a couple short "black" trails were closed. I skied four full perimeter loops.
I had skied Great Glen only once before, and that was earlier this year for the Ski to the Clouds race up Mt Washington. That time, the trails were very hard and icy. Today was vastly better. After four laps and two hours of skiing time, I was thoroughly cooked. I had forgotten how hilly it was there. You won't find big elevation change climbs, but you will find non-stop steep rollers that really wear you down after a while.
By late morning, there were a lot of skaters there, especially young women that looked very fast. Good thing they were always going the opposite way, else I would have been girled. A lot.
On my fourth lap, my left ski inexplicably came off. I was just cresting a climb and surprise, foot came down with no ski. This results in immediately face plant. I bought these used skis with bindings late last season. Don't know if previous owner had a problem with that binding or not. So cleats yesterday caused me to hit the dirt riding, and bindings today caused me to pack it in on snow. If that weren't enough, in my bonked state on the next decent, I bit it pretty hard near the bottom. This hill faced the sun and was pretty soft and chewed up. I somehow caught an edge. First time out this season, and I no doubt skied a few more kilometers than I should've. I logged 32.5km in 2:21hrs skiing time.
I have a list of climbing numbers to choose from:
GPS 2173ft (barometric)
DeLorme Topo 2540ft (ver 7.0)
Garmin Connect 2609ft
Motion Based 3478ft (uncorrected)
I know from experience that barometric altimeters under measure total vertical on rolling terrain. I also know that Motion Based can give high numbers when not applying their mystical correction routine to the data. That leaves DeLorme Topo and Garmin Connect, which are surprisingly close. They are based on GPS track and high-res smoothed digital elevation map data. Truth is probably in the 2500-2600ft range. Not bad for first time on snow this season.
It will be back to rollerskis during the week. It will suck.