J and I got our first covid shot and decided to venture forth to Maine to celebrate J’s 60th birthday with her favorite winter activities – skiing, hiking and drinking beer.
Oxbow Beer Garden
First stop was Oxbow Brewing in Oxford for some Nordic skiing with Ellen and Anna. Skiing is free, the woods hut serves beer, and the place was packed.
Next stop was Sunday River. I give them credit for being open, but skiing in time of covid is painful. I probably would have waited until next year but J is a diehard. Changing in the car is problematic, but on the third try we got it right with a 5 gallon bucket to sit on and a rug to lay on the ground. Not seeing your food before you order it is kind of weird and the food service people seemed to think covid was our fault. Capacity is much reduced by singles riding a six person lift and weekdays felt like weekends. After 2 days of that we decided it was time for solitude and set out to hike Crocker Hill.
Our intention was a 2.2 mile loop as described at https://mainebyfoot.com/. Since this article was written it appears they have added a parking lot at the point where the road forks left. Unfortunately the snow banks prevented access, so we backed up and parked just past the last house before the left fork. We assumed that by March someone would have skied or snowshoed on the woods road, but we immediately began sinking several inches into the snow. Not a good sign, since we both wore low shoes. J at least had gaiters and I had a hiking pole. After the switchbacks Crocker Hill Trail appeared, heading up hill on the right. The snow was too deep to see cairns, but luckily someone had marked it with orange blazes. As soon as we turned off the road, we began sinking knee deep into the snow.
It was exhausting and we took turns breaking trail. We reached the summit an hour after leaving the car to spectacular views of Mt Washington, the Presidential Range and Attitash Mountain Resort. Our feet were soaked and freezing, so we did not venture past the summit. We’ll be back in spring to complete the loop and look for the mines.