100 Mile Wilderness Maine (2023)

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xcdnewb0313
Posts: 25
Joined: Fri Sep 08, 2023 5:00 pm
Location: SE Connecticut
Occupation: Stay at home dad who enjoys web development, skiing, angling, & trail-running - b.g. US Marine, exvangelic, & a mediocre vegan chef. Namaste ✌️
Website: https://mountaintopcoding.dev

100 Mile Wilderness Maine (2023)

Post by xcdnewb0313 » Fri Sep 08, 2023 7:25 pm

This will be my first post on this forum. I am sitting at my desk in south eastern Connecticut wearing my new pair of Alfa Free A/P/S GTX boots. I got them at REI during the Labor Day Sale (30% off made the price just barely palatable). I came across this site while doing research on what skis I should get. I think I have narrowed my decision down to the Asnes RABB 68 and the Madshus Panorama 68.
This will be my third season nordic skiing, my eleventh AT skiing, and my first XCD/telemark. I moved to New England from southern California two years ago next month. Moving to New England piqued my interest in nordic skiing. Then this past season I skied the 100 Mile Wilderness in Maine for five days. My buddy and I skied fifty miles hut-to-hut over the course of our trip. He was on pair of Fischer Outback 68s w/ NNNBC/Alaska boots. I was on Sporten Ranger 68s w/ NNN/RossiX5 boots. The difference between what my buddy could do and what I could was stark to say the least. After getting throat punched by the ice/snow and crashing over and over again I decided that I had found the limit of what my NNN setup could do. I swore I was going to get a more robust setup for the next season. Then I discovered the Rotefella xPlore and the rest is history... So, enough about me lets discuss the trip.

Route Logistics
The Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) operates all but one of the lodges in the 100 Mile Wilderness. The AMC opens up reservations for the huts the Monday after Labor Day. I called right when they opened Monday morning and made my reservations. The problem was that the West Branch Pond Camp is privately owned and they allow you to make reservations as far in advance as you want. So, unfortunately my plans to ski North to South were thwarted as WBPC was booked solid on our second day. They only had one spot left on our first day. I ended up booking the last spot (do note that the best way to communicate with WBPC is by email, they can only make calls when they go into town. Also you have to pay for your reservation by check, which you will have to mail). Instead of going from Medawisla, WBPC, Little Lyford, Gorman Chairback we went from WBPC, Little Lyford, Gorman Chairback, back to Little Lyford and returned to WBPC where our truck was parked. If you were to go from North to South (or vice versa) there is a shuttle you can take to get you back to wherever your vehicle is parked.

Cost
The total cost for four nights/five days for two travelers was $1031 ($515.50 a person). This includes breakfast and dinner cooked every night at your hut, a trail lunch (that you order the night before), and snow mobile transportation of your gear between huts.

Food/Accommodations
Since I was traveling with my buddy we opted for the bunk room every night. The only exception is WBPC where they only have private cabins. This kept our cost down. It was also a great opportunity to meet new and interesting people. I am vegan and my buddy is mostly vegetarian. For the trip I had to go vegetarian a few meals, but overall I was able to eat vegan. On the third day for trail lunch I ordered two sandwiches - peanut butter and jelly, and the veggie wrap with hummus. However, the person making the sandwiches must have been confused so they made one sandwich with all the ingredients. I was starving so maybe I was hallucinating but the sandwich actually tasted kind of like a Thanksgiving Meal :lol: The accommodations were luxurious and we stayed quite warm at night. If I do it again I will bring my summer bag though. I was not sure how warm the huts were going to be so I brought my 0 degree bag. I would have been totally fine with my 25 degree quilt (and had a lot more room in my bag/brought a smaller duffel). All the rooms have a fire place and are well stocked with fire wood. WBPC does not have alcohol, nor does Little Lyford. You can bring your own though. However, with the temps well below freezing it is advisable not to bring beer. Gorman Chairback has beer and wine. We bought extra on the third night and carried it in our day packs to keep it from freezing so we could have it our last night in Little Lyford. All of the AMC lodges have wood fired saunas. If you are keen on that I would go straight there when you arrive and get the fire going as it takes about an hour for the sauna to warm up sufficiently - don't wait till you are feeling good on whatever libations you are imbibing in.

Thoughts
This was my first hut-to-hut trip and I had no idea what to expect so I brought my sub-40 winter boots for camp shoes. It was fine the first night but the second night my feet were COVERED in blisters. Cramming my feet into those boots at night was horrific. The last night I just walked barefoot into the snow at night to pee. When I got home I bought a pair of Teva Ember Mocs for camp shoes.

There was a sweet family on the trip visiting from Europe. The saw me limping around and gave me a pack of Compeed Advanced Blister Care strips. Those things are AMAZING! Get a packet of them before your next trip. A 10 pack is less than $20 on Amazon.

Gorman Chairback had chipped a hole in the ice so you could go for a dip if you wanted, which was pretty trippy. The water was actually warmer than the air. Never experienced that before.

There is almost no cell reception in the entire area. There is also no wifi. Call your family friends from town before you drive into the woods. There is one lodge that has one bar of reception if you stand in the right spot and don't move. I will refrain from telling you what lodge - just plan on not staring at your phone the whole trip.

The terrain ESE/SE of WBPC along Hay Mountain had some really fun terrain - old logging roads running straight downhill that make for some fun skiing. The main routes are groomed - some more regularly than others. Some of the main routes are also snowmobile routes, which can lead to some pretty choppy conditions. A few days before we visited New England was slammed with an arctic blast that dropped temps into the negative forties and fifties. So, there was still a lot of ice and the lodges were not as full because some folks had bailed on their trips.

AMC Books Best Backcountry Skiing in the Northeast has a great write-up of the area along with a good topo map. Honestly, you can read the write up in the NY Times for free (the author pretty much copy and pasted it from his guidebook -- or vise versa) The link is in my blog post for those interested. I also bought the AMC map of the 100 Mile Wilderness and brought a compass, just in case. I did not end up needing it, the weather was great all but the last morning when it rained for an hour or two.

Indian Mountain near Little Lyford also had some really great looking lines. Due to our setup we just stared wistfully. I overheard a cook at Little Lyford talking about riding up there on her snowboard...

For photos and a play by play of each day you can check out my blog https://www.iloveto.fish/winter/100-mile-wilderness
Last edited by xcdnewb0313 on Sun Sep 10, 2023 9:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Manney
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Re: 100 Mile Wilderness Maine (2023)

Post by Manney » Fri Sep 08, 2023 9:26 pm

Thank you for posting. As an intro post, it is a very good one indeed!

WRT learning ski disciplines, it’s a process that takes years for each one. Even after considerable progress, muscle memory can and does fade. Your new stomping grounds (CT) offers some advantages in whatever discipline you wish to pursue (including all, if “MMA” is your path).

We all have our gear… but my advice is not to place equipment over conditioning and skill. A great deal of success and satisfaction is based on refinement… you might not get anywhere faster, but you will reach milestones and destinations fresher and safer after mastering the basics. Doing so can take far longer than 2-3 seasons… even if you’re a natural athlete (which you may well be).

Tele isn’t something people start out doing. Well, maybe some people do. Most negotiate their way along the XC or downhill paths, bumping into BC before having an epiphany and settling on tele. There is some wisdom in this approach because tele is a technique, style etc. that happens after the tour and climb… and occasionally must give way to other things if the conditions and terrain demands. So those skills (and fitness) you acquire outside tele are not to be trifled with. This might be part of the underlying logic that brought you to this point…

If it isn’t, your skiing might reach another crossroads quickly. Do you sacrifice tours and climbs and natural terrain in pursuit of an easier, elegant tele turn? Or do take a broader approach… one closer to the roots of tele? (This might be the heart of your decision before choosing a Raab or Panorama, which are quite different skis)

It’s best to make a conscious decision because “new religions” can become untenable in the long run. Sometimes all it takes is one bad tour for ppl to throw in the towel and switch disciplines… only to switch disciplines again and again. The trick is to navigate through adversity, not look for a detour around it.

Lots of philosophical musings here… but my view is that any athletic pursuit is about the athlete first, the mental approach second, and the gear third. Truly gifted ppl may be able to do alright mixing it up. That’s not me… and probably not 99% of recreational skiers either.

Good luck on your journey and don’t forget… it might just be just skiing, but it’s 100% you.
Go Ski



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xcdnewb0313
Posts: 25
Joined: Fri Sep 08, 2023 5:00 pm
Location: SE Connecticut
Occupation: Stay at home dad who enjoys web development, skiing, angling, & trail-running - b.g. US Marine, exvangelic, & a mediocre vegan chef. Namaste ✌️
Website: https://mountaintopcoding.dev

Re: 100 Mile Wilderness Maine (2023)

Post by xcdnewb0313 » Sun Sep 10, 2023 9:36 pm

Most negotiate their way along the XC or downhill paths, bumping into BC before having an epiphany and settling on tele.
That sounds about right :D
A good friend of mine who I skied with for several years in Japan was a tele skier. I was just learning AT though and while it looked cool I had my hands full learning how to travel in the backcountry. Fast-forward five years and this past season I met a guy in Tuckermans mid-way up Right Gully. We chatted for a bit and then he took off. While waiting for my buddies to get to the nice ledge someone had been kind enough to dig I see him rip down The Lip. I had not noticed before but he was on tele skis. Inspiring.
take a broader approach… one closer to the roots of tele
I have been spending a lot of time the last week or two thinking about what I want out of the new direction. I love cruising on mellow terrain and trees. Big long days. Finding untracked pitches a week after the storm. Squeezing in a night lap before the snow melts off tomorrow morning (I live in SE Connecticut near the shoreline - gotta move fast to get the goods). The Panorama offers a little more simplicity in that I could get away with not needing skins. Not so with the Rabb... Then I was reading about the SB98 and that looks promising - but it is hard to find (and pricey for a first XCD ski).The Panorama sounds like it may be softer, which scares me a bit. My first ski ever was the BD Kilowatt. It was a pretty soft ski and I had a lot of issues with chatter and not feeling like I could get an edge when driving it medium to hard. So, more thought is needed I guess.

I am a small quiver kind of guy though. I have one AT ski, one XC ski. One tenkara rod (okay technically I have three but the others are just backups that never leave the garage). One BFS rod. One fishing kayak. One pair of trail running shoes (Altra Lone Peaks baby) You get the idea... This is half the fun though - dreaming, thinking, and pondering while the days are still long and warm. 🙏🏼🌨️



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Manney
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Re: 100 Mile Wilderness Maine (2023)

Post by Manney » Sun Sep 10, 2023 9:48 pm

The SB and Panorama seem to be good all rounders. Untracked pistes after a snowfall won’t be a problem for even the softest sprung ski as long as it has enough surface area to bear your body weight (which is also why one must think a bit before getting a BC ski with a narrow waist). Not much chatter on fresh, natural snow over a decent base. Ever.

My week ahead will be spent doing a wax inventory and checking my tools (edger, scrapers, brushes, gummies). Like to get my wax box well stocked by October, which is right around the corner.
Go Ski



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CwmRaider
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Location: Subarctic Scandinavian Taiga
Ski style: XC-(D) tinkerer
Favorite Skis: Åsnes FT62 XP, Børge Ousland
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Re: 100 Mile Wilderness Maine (2023)

Post by CwmRaider » Tue Sep 12, 2023 5:11 am

@xcdnewb0313 Are you looking for a quiver of one ski that is suited for both 100 mile tours in flat terrain, and rup and down skiing?
Im not sure that the Rabb or Panorama 68 is the way to go in this case, I would get a ski with a bit less sidecut. This much sidecut will require extra energy to keep the skis tracking straight, and can be tiresome over distance.



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Manney
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Re: 100 Mile Wilderness Maine (2023)

Post by Manney » Tue Sep 12, 2023 7:53 am

Agree on the Raab. The Sb and Panorama have less sidecut. Enough to make a high difference? Depends on conditions. More powder requires some surface area but a turn requires sidecut. Less side better for tracking. Always compromises.

So let’s look at some others for sake of discussion.

A Discovery 80 is 80-58-69, so some sacrifice in surface area. The Discovery 102s? Back into bigger sidecut territory at 102-64-87. Not a tracking profile.

Combat NATO is 84-62-74. Have a Combat NATO myself. Tracks and floats well. Not a carving snake but easy enough to turn on descent. Not as much camber as some claim. Soft initial camber but it firms up a bit in the last 1/3rd of compression.

Rossi XP100… 100-80-85. Not a big fan of Rossi’s typical soft camber though it has its uses (nice in firm but damp conditions). Lots of surface area there for float though the softer flex can give away a bit of perceived support if the pow is light.

Don’t like getting caught up discussing products too early tho. More value in really defining the snow and terrain first. Any/all of these skis have their uses, strengths, weaknesses. Would happily ski them all. My perfect ski? Doesn’t matter. What’s good for me isn’t necessarily perfect for anyone else.
Go Ski



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spopepro
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Re: 100 Mile Wilderness Maine (2023)

Post by spopepro » Tue Sep 12, 2023 4:35 pm

Thanks for the trip report--another thing to add to my list. This looks great!

You mentioned luggage service, but I notice in your photos you're carrying a pack that is about the size of what I'd carry for a hut-to-hut. Did you not use the service, or did you feel the need to carry full bivy gear in case of problems?



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xcdnewb0313
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Joined: Fri Sep 08, 2023 5:00 pm
Location: SE Connecticut
Occupation: Stay at home dad who enjoys web development, skiing, angling, & trail-running - b.g. US Marine, exvangelic, & a mediocre vegan chef. Namaste ✌️
Website: https://mountaintopcoding.dev

Re: 100 Mile Wilderness Maine (2023)

Post by xcdnewb0313 » Wed Sep 13, 2023 10:00 am

@spopepro
I brought that pack because it has a roll top closure, like a dry bag (definitely came in handy for the rain on the last day). It was probably about half-ish full (2000 cb/in capacity) for most of the trip (except when we were carrying our beer/wine to keep it from freezing in our main luggage). We did not carry bivy gear just a spare jacket, trail lunch, small first aid kit, two way radios, map/compass, and extra socks...
It is a great adventure - I was told it is the only place in the lower 48 where you can travel hut to hut over such a great distance (I could be misinformed just parroting what I was told by other travelers).

@Manney
Thanks for the suggestions! I was also eyeing the Combat NATO. The other ones weren't on my radar, but are now. Thank you. As for snow/terrain that is a bit of a mixed bag.
I live in SE Connecticut. I just moved here. Last winter was horrible, we had one storm the last day of February that dropped seven inches. That was all we got all winter. Still went for a xc tour with my son. When we got back to the truck the base had melted out five inches. The snow can go fast around here...
The winter before that I got two weeks skiing the trails around my place as we got a fair amount of snow and it stuck around for days. The hills around here aren't big but a ten mile trail run can yield 2k of elevation gain from dozens of ~fifty foot bumps (which is why I don't want to futz with skins - the time needed for transitions would make travel a pain in the butt).
I also visit southern Vermont three weekends a month to ski Prospect with my son (he is six). We are starting to explore more "remote" areas off the groomed tracks. He has been skiing since he was three and on XC skis he is braver than me :lol:
There is also two/three trips with the guys to ski The Whites. Sometimes the weather cooperates and we get in the alpine, other times the weather does not so we stay in the trees. For the alpine terrain I will stick with my AT setup until I get more experience. But this video is exactly how I want to travel in the alpine one day



How sick is that!? Rotefella xplore/Alfa Free in the cockpit. Nuts for how light and comfy a setup it is...

@CwmRaider
I would say I want a ski for more frequent up/down travel. Breaking trail (I LOVE breaking trail). I savor the descents (read: lots of breaks to take in the scenery).



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CwmRaider
Posts: 555
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Location: Subarctic Scandinavian Taiga
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Favorite Skis: Åsnes FT62 XP, Børge Ousland
Occupation: Very precise measurements of very small quantities.

Re: 100 Mile Wilderness Maine (2023)

Post by CwmRaider » Thu Sep 14, 2023 12:29 pm

@xcdnewb0313 I have a Falketind xplore with xplore bindings and Alfa Free as depicted in the video. Those are expert skiers on perfect snow and slope conditions aka "hero snow". I do ok but not as good as those guys after 8 years of experience with fjellski and a sharp rise in interest in xcD 5 years ago.
The setup is very capable especially for the weight. A dedicated Telemark setup with plastic boots and twice the weight will handle irregular snow better.
I find it very rewarding to use and learn with. I do have one other pair of skis (Ousland) for distance oriented tours. The Free are ok on longer distance for me with the top BOA loosened. The Falketinds are acceptable xc skis but I haven't skied them for longer distance trips on adverse snow conditions yet, I had to do shorter tours the past season.
The Combat NATO will be better xc skis in bad snow due to the non rockered tip. They are great off track cruising skis, but don't turn nearly as easily as the Falketind or Rabb.



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Manney
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Re: 100 Mile Wilderness Maine (2023)

Post by Manney » Sun Sep 17, 2023 1:16 pm

Smart two ski quiver @CwmRaider. A skier could certainly cover a lot of bases with a Falkentind-Ousland quiver.

A careful selection like this isn’t often seen… two skis that cover a range without falling off into extremes. Far better, in my opinion, to skis at the opposite ends of the spectrum like a Raab and a Mountain Race (stayin within the Asnes line for consistency here). That case begs for a third ski to avoid giving up a lot of opportunities in the middle.

Nothing against Raab and MR. They’re just light years apart and create a really wide a gap to bridge.
Go Ski



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