Glades for the Backcountry

Glades for the Backcountry

Many are familiar with the fact that Good To-Go is a Maine-based company. While we, as a company, have roots that extend far and wide, our hearts are planted firmly in the Northeast. The unique landscape here offers so much in terms of outdoor recreation.

Our winters have earned a reputation for brutally harsh weather and variable conditions, to say the least. Travel away and you'll hear folks refer to it as "the ice coast". To New Englanders, we shrug it off and take it in stride, because we know this is a special place.

The Northeast has a rich and storied snow sports history. From backcountry skiing at Mt. Washington’s infamous Tuckerman Ravine, to the variety of ski trails developed by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) of the 1930’s, some of which remain in use to this day.

When Tyler Ray, President of Granite Backcountry Alliance, approached Good To-Go to sponsor a portion of their 2018 Glade Tour, we jumped at the opportunity. As part of the sponsorship, several of us, including Good To-Go founders Jennifer Scism and David Koorits, would roll up our sleeves, and volunteer our time clearing glades in a zone approved by the US Forest Service, in New Hampshire's White Mountains.

The goal of Granite Backcountry Alliance is to advance the sport of backcountry skiing in New Hampshire and Western Maine, providing low-impact human-powered backcountry skiing and riding opportunities to the public through the creation, improvement and maintenance of ski glades. To meet that objective, GBA has invested resources in land conservation and access, safety and education, and partnerships and collaboration.

The particular glade project we were involved with took place on Bartlett Mountain, expanding upon the Maple Villa Ski Trail originally cut by the CCC in 1933. The goal: clear 6-8 glade lines with a total approximate vertical of 8,000' to 12,000' vertical, with lines ranging from 600' to 1500' vertical. In layman's speak, this is going to be a great place to earn your turns.

We met early in the morning on a cold, rainy Saturday, in a primitive dirt lot that will eventually be the parking area for the trailhead. Most impressive was the turnout. 80 people arrived, undeterred by the cold rain, ready to put in work.

After coffee and donuts, Tyler Ray gave his speech to whip up the crowd’s enthusiasm and outline the day’s work. Armed with loppers, tree saws and hard hats, we met with our crew leader. After a discussion outlining approved USFS practices, assuring a balanced approach to forest health and human recreation, we made our way up the mountain.

The group of 80 volunteers worked throughout the day clearing the approved gladed trails. For most, the work consisted of clearing small shrubs and trees measuring less than a 3", with hand tools. There was a small sawyer team that would clear some of the larger obstacles with chainsaws.

This was hard work, no doubt, but knowing we were part of something special here—something that belonged to the community—kept us going. That, and the thought of the complimentary burgers and beers that awaited us when we had finished, of course.

“Community support for our glade projects come in all shapes and sizes from product donation to investment of time. We are incredibly appreciative to all that contribute because the work is certainly not easy, especially when the donation goes beyond the product. I was excited when Good-to-Go agreed to be involved in the project but beyond impressed when their team completed a full 8-hour day with smiles and high fives. This is a great example of walking the walk through direct community engagement. We look forward to GTG team reaping the rewards of a powder day this winter!”

-Tyler Ray, Granite Chief

Stay tuned for the sequel to this story. We plan to return to the Maple Villa glades later this winter to ski, snowboard and enjoy the efforts made by our tight-knit community of backcountry skiers and splitboarders.

As I write this I'm being taunted by reports of nearly two feet of snow that has fallen on Mt Washington (aka "the rock pile") since last night—and it's only October. While this is hopefully a precursor to what mother nature has in store for this season, we'll have to wait and see. Regardless, the stoke is alive and well in the Northeast.


JOIN THE MOVEMENT! Donate to Granite Backcountry

Written by Justin Hagen

Photography by Brian Threlkeld / Threlkeld Outdoor

Special Thanks to Dustin Marshall for the photo of the skier dropping in on the "Sluice", a famous line on Tucks.

Recent Articles