It’s been a while since I’ve brewed, and it’s been even longer since I’ve brewed a nice hazy fruity NE IPA. With the intention to do this a couple weeks ago, I had picked up some liquid yeast from the home brew store. Omega OYL-200 “Tropical IPA.” I’ve never used Omega yeast before, but the guy at the brew store spoke highly of it, saying it’s much better quality than Wyeast which I would normally go with for this brew. (Normally I do Wyeast “London Ale III” for IPAs). I was kind of tired and didn’t really fully feel like brewing today, but I also didn’t want to let the yeast get any older than it already was. So off I go, a slave to my yeast, brewing today.
Since the last time I’ve brewed my beer recipe calculator site brewtoad.com has shutdown as well, which left me without my usual tools for building a recipe. I’ve exported my old recipes as .XML files, but I’ve yet to find a perfect alternative that I can import them into yet. For today, I decided to give another web-based tool brewness.com a try. It seemed pretty similar, allowing me to adjust ingredient amounts, see the affect on the outcome of the beer, and provide mash volumes/temps etc. It gives a pretty good recipe printout as well.
Another first for the day, I’ll be trying “cryo” hops which through some magic process have double the alpha acid percentage. It’s supposed to reduce trub that eats into beer volume, and be great for potent whirlpool/dry hop late flavor and aroma additions. All kinds of fun surprises at the Essex homebrew store. Who knows, maybe I’ll get these from now on.
Recipe for today is as follows:
Oats 2# 10 Oz
Dry-hopped Mosaic 1 bag of cryo at 5 days, 1 of Eukanot cryo at 3 days, 1 bag of regular Mosaic pellets also at 3.
Whirlpool hops were 2 oz Cryo Citra
Omega OYL-2000 as mentioned above.
Smells great. Tastes good, could be a bit stronger. Malt flavor is perfect, can definitely taste the wheat and honey malt coming through well.
Next brew with this recipe I'd like to go for 90 minutes, to bitter more, and add flavor. Maybe more dry hopping.
Today I finally checked the Teardrop Trail on Mt. Mansfield off my list. It’s been one I’ve wanted to do all winter since learning of it from a co-worker, and reading about it in David Goodman’s excellent book, “Backcountry Skiing Adventures: Vermont and New York.”
This weekend, after a week of spring-like weather, most snow in town had vanished, but we were in for a surprise spring storm Friday night, just in time for the weekend. Accumulation from the storm was ample, with Bolton claiming a 20″ snowfall total. I took off a bit early from work Friday, and head to Bolton as it began, in an attempt for a few laps before a late dinner, but the moment I turned onto the access road, I entered a line of parked cars. Enough people were apparently having trouble getting up the road in the heavy snow, that all traffic was completely stopped, right to the beginning of the road. After waiting 15 minutes or so without anyone moving, I gave up, turned back onto Rt. 2, and head home. Oh well.
After some attempts at lift-served riding on Saturday foiled by wind-holds, the plan for this weekend was to tackle Teardrop on Sunday. Andre, his co-worker, and I carpooled from Essex into Underhill to the end of Mountain Rd. heading towards Underhill State Park. It was a great day to be out, with temperatures in the mid to upper 30s, and very little wind, it felt quite comfortable out.
As we made the trip over, we got a good view of Mt. Mansfield, and could see pretty well where we were headed. Andre pointed out the ridge to the right side of Mt. Mansfield, Maple Ridge. (Opposite the Sunset Ridge on the left side on the mountain.) The Teardrop trail runs along the left side of this ridge. It looked pretty steep. Our GPS track shows a good view of where on the mountain it’s located.
From the filled parking area at the end of the plowed portion of Mountain Rd, we continued up the road on the well worn skin track. The three of us had never been here before, but after a quick check in with the GPS were were sure we were on the trail. The trail was pretty flat to start, but then again, we were only one the road at this point. After a ways, still on the road, but before the ranger station, the trail split off to the right. We removed some of our layers, and we started climbing the ascent.
The trail narrowed slightly as we made our way, and after not too long, became quite steep. Further up and it got even steeper still. We hit several tough climbs, and then the trail came to the intersection of the Maple Ridge Trail, and the CCC road.
From the GPS/map, we saw Teardrop took a left onto the CCC road here for a nice and mellow 100 ft section. After 100 ft, it takes a sharp right, and we’re back to continuing our very steep ascent. Were there not a lot of fresh deep snow today, it would have been pretty difficult to climb some sections, with our skins struggling to get grip on heavily packed or icy snow.
So far the trail was pretty wide the whole way up, a bit more like a trail at a ski resort than most other back country ski trails I’ve been on. This wasn’t really what I was expecting from reading about it.
Through the trees, we started to get some nice views of both “the nose” above, and Underhill with the lake behind us, as we made our way up closer to the summit. We eventually hit a clearing, our first real clear view in all directions. We were near the top.
From here the trail became extremely narrow, and it became difficult to make our way, having to duck under spruce bows and squeeze through tunnels of branches. It was going to be difficult to get back down this way, especially once we start getting speed. It was still fairly steep. We continued like this narrow section for about a quarter mile, before slowly making our way to the end of the trail. Since it’s so narrow, the trail doesn’t really have a clear ending, it just kind of stops climbing, and you’re at the top of the mountain. We actually had to turn around and head back a few hundred feet to find a good spot that was open enough and steep enough to transition.
Ducking branches and finding the holes in the trees with some speed was difficult and exciting. I fell a few times, a couple times from unexpected branches, and a couple more on purpose to prevent myself from heading into trees. The scary part is there wasn’t really a good way to tell if there were people coming up the trail. Luckily, there were spots every so often where the trail opened up enough to slow/stop and regroup. From there we could look ahead through the next section as much as possible. We didn’t really encounter too many people climbing, but when we did it went well and was uneventful.
Once we got out of the narrow summit section, the trail widened up into a ski trail and everything was wonderful. We didn’t get going too fast, the deep snow made sure of that. The snow was a dense powder that had been moved a bit by other skiers and riders. Definitely a bumpy and tiring ride down, but also a ton of fun. The views were also not terrible.
Eventually we got to a bit of a flat out, and I had walk a section which was pretty challenging in the deep snow. Another rider headed up mentioned that we could have cut down into the woods before this and skipped the flat spot. Oh well, I’ll have to remember that for next time.
Once we got back down near the bottom, the snow began to get a stickier as the day got warmer. Skiing off the tracks into powder was like hitting a patch of grass. It grabbed pretty hard and slowed you down pretty fast. Luckily I had just waxed my board which helped. Before long we were back to the car.
Total distance for this trip was 5.25 miles, taking 3 hrs 10 mins. We climbed 2604 feet, and my max speed was only 18.8 mph.
This weekend Andre and I decided to try out the Monroe trail on the Duxbury/Moretown side of Camel’s Hump. We had talked about doing it last weekend, so we already had a little bit of a plan in place. I had a bit of a late night Saturday, and with Daylight Savings Time now in effect, we were in for a late start today.
By the time we got up to the trailhead, it was already 2:30 in the afternoon. We pulled into the lower “Winter Parking” area. This was the end of the road. The summer lot at the base of the Monroe trail, another half a mile up the road, doesn’t get plowed out in the winter. From here we had to make our way up to the lower route. Obviously we could skin up the road, but from the upper parking area it looked like there may also be an XC trail that links up with the Monroe trail.
We head up the XC trail, (marked Ridley Crossing XC trail), and stayed on that for trail about a half hour before we started having doubts where it was headed. After a little over an hour, it was clear this trail wasn’t going to meet up with the Monroe, and we were going the wrong way. The Ridley XC trail came to an end, and met a snowmobile trail, which from Andre’s phone seemed to be VAST 100A. We continuing down the VAST trail for a half hour or so, without losing too much elevation. There were some older tracks here, from maybe a day or two before, but we didn’t see any skiers or snowmobilers. Looking at the map, it seemed we could head down the VAST trail and eventually get down to the Monroe parking area, so we head in that direction. After a while, I checked the map again. I was pretty sure up ahead, the woods would be thin, and we would be close enough to the Monroe trail, that we could cut through the woods to intersect it and save some time and elevation. Sure enough, we saw some other tracks into the woods further up, from people who must have had the same thought.
After almost a half hour, we finally arrived at the Monroe trail, and slowly made our way up Camel’s Hump. The wind became very strong as we passed the intersection with the Dean trail, but luckily it was a warm day, at about 30 degrees. With the extra couple miles added on at the start, we were getting a little tired, but we soon reached the cliffs. From here the Monroe trail continued to the left, gradually climbing the way along a well worn path ascending the cliffs. Looking at a topo map, I could see we had another option. Rather than climb the cliffs, we could traverse to the right, beneath the cliffs. This would give us a longer descent, should eventually rejoin the Monroe trail, and from my phone I could see if we cut over far enough, there was a trail someone had marked as “Backcountry Ski Trail.” This sounded convincing enough, and we made our way off in that direction.
As we cut through the woods, there wasn’t much indication that we were on a trail. This part of the mountain was extremely windblown, and even our tracks wouldn’t last long. There were noticeable indentations in the snow where tracks once were though, and despite the windblown surface, we could tell that we were mostly going the right way, as the snow was pretty packed underfoot. When we would venture too far off, you could definitely sink into the snow. It must have been several feet deep here. After a while, we decided we’ve traversed far enough across the fall line, and found a decent area to transition.
The beginning of the descent was slow, had a couple flat-outs, which was a little discouraging, but we quickly came up on a gentle cliff that got us started on our real decent. As we made our way down, we did our best to stick to the right. From the shape of the topography we could tell if we went too far to the left, we’d end up somewhere in Waterbury, and that wasn’t the plan. Checking in frequently with the GPS as we head down, we head in the direction of the Monroe trail. After not too long, we intersected with what was clearly the “Backcountry Ski Trail,” and took that the rest of the way down. It was very open compared to the surrounding area, some thinning of vegetation had definitely been done along the trail. The snow itself was was pretty untouched, and it was a great trip down, albeit very tiring on a snowboard, the entire trail kept me on my toe-side and the calves were a bit sore at the end. Eventually the ski trail we were on reconnected with the Monroe trail, which we rode out to the unplowed road below. Continuing skiing down the road,we eventually made our way back to the Winter parking area where we started. This time approaching from the Monroe parking area above.
Definitely a fun trip that will need to be repeated.