The struggles of the elusive winter.

Winter missed us, well at least here in the Mid Atlantic and most, if not all, of the east coast from my experience. Last year 2022 wasn’t bad for resort skiing here in McHenry, at Maryland’s only ski area. The conditions didn’t mimic spring skiing all year round! It was however horrible for anything without man made snow which unfortunately is my favorite place to partake in snow sports. It kept cold enough for the resorts to keep their produced snow in decent condition. Unfortunately though like this year it hardly snowed 48’ 2023 and 56’ 2022. Even more heart breaking this year it wasn’t cold enough to keep all the trails in decent condition. Basically one had all the base and the rest would melt out, then fresh snow would be made to replace it during a brief cold snap.

The last few of years, Ally and I really had bad timing chasing the snow. In 2021 we flew out to CO to try and get on the snow right before our local resorts opened up. They day we came back from that trip a section of 70 closed down less then an hour after we drove through on the way to the airport, due to a fire. This was in December and it was still so dry that fires were breaking out.

We did catch a few spring storms at Winter Park in 2021 and 2022 which seemed like massive amounts of snow given our local mountain conditions, but in reality wasn’t that much accumulation. We finally hit the Jack pot this spring in ID! Landing at the airport at midnight, Micah picks us up with news of over a foot of snow in the mountains with about the same amount forecasted for tomorrow. Waking up at 6 a.m. we head to Tamarack. Tamarack is a ski resort about 2 hours from Boise. We loaded the truck in the rain and headed out of town along the Boise River. Then as we paralleled the Payette River snow flakes started to form. As we approached the town of Cascade, we passed a heard of elk and followed the North Fork of the Payette as the snow thickened. Arriving at the ski resort we had free refills all day as the snow continued. After receiving a text alert of even more snow the next morning on our phones, we rallied for yet another free refill day. We went to Bogus this time. The fog was intense and visibility was super low and we spent the day trying to stay together. Then another powder alert; this time we took our time and were rewarded as the weather lifted and we could see the amazing 360 view, instead the back of each others heads like yesterday when we were trying to stick together. I mean, any trip out west this season would have pretty high odds of hitting the powder Jack pot, I feel we got lucky this late spring trip.

I have notice a trend with the snow in my local area. It seems to be coming later in the season than when I grew up. As I write this the on May 3, 2023, this notion is reinforced by the last 2 days of snow. The last two day’s accumulation are probably just shy of a quarter of the snow we had this season.

I am concerned the El Niño weather pattern is coming which will be bad for the ski seasons on the east coast. This could help send average temperatures to new heights, which isn’t good for winter sports. You can help protect our winters by donating to POW.

Major Setbacks on Hiking the Continental Divide Trail (CDT)

Grand Canyon

I have had a couple set backs with hiking the Continental Divide Trail (CDT). The first was that I won a Grand Canyon River Lottery for 2019, in which I was the default trip leader. Because I won and the method we used left no alternative leaders, I went or the trip did not happen. The second was well COVID! It actually set me back at least until 2022. It feels like I have spent a lifetime trying to hike the Triple Crown and I am only 2/3 of the way there. I know 2/3 is almost there, but it leaves me with over 3,000 miles to hike.

I honestly don’t think I would have went on the Grand Canyon Rafting Trip (GCRT) if there had been an alternate. In hindsight I would 100% not have gone on the trip! But the way we played the lottery was for everyone in our group to pick the same dates with no alternate. From our interpretation of the lottery rules, if an alternate also applies as trip leader you lose your extra points that you get for never having been on a GCRT. You see to boat down the Grand without paying for a guide to take you, there is a lottery you must win to do so. Each new applicant gets extra points so, we maximized our points by the combination of the above mentioned method: all same day with no alternate so we could get the maximum points for our group. I won a permit on my second time applying with this method.

The group came so close to not being able to go for two reasons: a government shut down and I ended up with an acromioclavicul (A/C) tear to my right shoulder along with a concussion.


South Fork, Salmon River

Again in 2020 I was going to finally complete my goal of finishing the Triple Crown via completing the CDT, but that didn’t happen. I am not sure COVID will not affect hiking in 2021. I did manage to jump on a neat adventure in 2020, but I am sure a lot of you discovered the stay-cation was back in for 2020.

I was lucky enough to get invited on an Idaho rafting trip of the Main Salmon and ended up doing a quick South Fork of the Salmon trip right before the Main. With that exception the rest of my time was spent exploring the area around where I live in WV. Mostly I kayaked and rafted the same rivers I always do, but I did get in a lot of local to semi local hikes/backpacking trips I had wanted to do, but always found myself hiking in other areas instead.


Salmon River

Staying local allowed for much easier planning and preparation. Instead of pouring over maps and menus, planning for multiple months of clothing and food, prepackaging the food and clothing, calling to see if places still exist where I was planning to stay and/or resupply, and finally getting someone to send all the packages. I basically woke up the day we were leaving and asked Ally, my partner, what she had packed, filled in the rest of what was needed, then we went hiking. I also got a lot more accomplished this year then I normally do since I was in the same tristate area for over a year minus the ID trip which was less than a month. You know I had more fun overall then any of the longer trips. I was lacking the sense of adventure and unknown, but not to a huge degree. I did miss the huge sense of accomplishment that comes from the completion of all that planning, but to be honest it fades really quickly and I am looking for the next big thing.

Over a lifetime we all face setbacks to what we want to do in life. Some are major, some are minor. Some we perceive as major are perceived as minor to others and vise versa. A set back is just a test to see how bad we want something, maybe the set back is so great you can’t overcome it, but you won’t know until you try. No matter what, you can always control your outlook or reaction to the situation. Even if something has dragged you down all year you change your feelings over time. Worst case, in my opinion, you have to have a new goal. It might be different from the original but it can be just as rewarding.
CDT 2022 is now my next objective for completing my life long goal of hiking the Triple Crown! Did 2020 interfere with any of your major goals? What did you do to overcome it? What did you do instead this year?