Trip Report Fitzgerald's hut.Bogong high plains.2,3/9/17

Discussion in 'Backcountry Trip Reports' started by Mister Tee on snow shoes, Sep 3, 2017.

  1. Mister Tee on snow shoes

    Mister Tee on snow shoes Dedicated Member

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    A successful overnight mission on snowshoes from Falls Creek to Fitzgerald hut was accomplished on September 2nd and 3rd 2017.There is still a large amount of snow out there and Rocky Valley dam is completely frozen over!.Complete details and some photos are coming soon, but I must say that my film camera battery died so visual evidence is somewhat lacking.
     
  2. weerab

    weerab Dedicated Member
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    I really wanted to get out to Fitzy's hut last week when I was at Falls but did not get round to it. My last couple of attempts have been thwarted by blisters and lack of daylight.

    Might have to go up in next couple of weeks. How is the new green roof? How long does it take on snow shoes?
     
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  3. Mister Tee on snow shoes

    Mister Tee on snow shoes Dedicated Member

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    On Sept. 2nd 2017 in quite benign conditions a party of 4 snow shoe trekkers in total lead by their dear leader ( Mr. T. ) set off from Windy corner at about 9.30 am for Fitzgerald's hut. We went via the Nordic bowl and the dam wall road was fully groomed with a metre of snow on it. Rocky valley Lake had completely frozen over!!. Compared to the same time as last year there was double the amount of snow everywhere and it was dry and firm.
    We signed the intentions book near the Heathy Spur sign. The information hut with the intentions book had been dug out in order to permit access.
    We set the compass for NE and went XC up Heathy Spur, swinging east and meeting the groomed Heathy Spur XC ski trail ,eventually we saw the AAWT pole line and the trees near Edmondson's hut and when we reached "The Park" in good conditions with sunshine and light winds we were able to to stop for a pack off snack . In poor conditions this area is very exposed and is not an ideal pit stop location.
    We were all feeling fresh , energetic and inspired by the views of Mt. Wills, Mt. Nelse and the distant snow covered Main Range as we continued along between Holland's knob and Marum Point.By this time my camera battery had died and thankfully The G. Man was taking photos with his camera.All signs pointing out the way to a hut or a track that would usually be visible at waist height in summer had been buried under a deep snow so only the old high signs on tall poles could be seen.
    Eventually at about 2pm we reached Fitzgerald's hut.
    There was a student group of ski tourers having a break outside the hut.
    I was knackered. I looked exhausted and one of the teachers with the school group was concerned and asked if we had enough food, water, fuel etc. I said we had snow shoe hiked from Falls Creek in about 4 hours and had missed eating a decent lunch .I thanked him for his concern.I reassured him that we were reasonably experienced white season BC trekkers. I am no expert but I am no newbie either.
    We set about digging in and setting up our snow tents.
    Once this task was completed I ate my late lunch like a man who had not eaten for days.
    Hot tea went down a treat while sitting inside the hut. The Hut had been excavated from its snow bound condition by some previous visitors ( kind souls) so front door access was easy.
    The others went off to find and inspect Kelly hut. I went to gather fire wood and see if the creek down towards the aqua duct was flowing. It was not. It was still buried under deep snow and frozen.
    So we melted snow on our stoves for all subsequent water related needs.
    The others returned and I had got the fire inside the hut fireplace burning.

    I cut up some boughs of dead snow gums so that we only burned what we had collected and left plenty of wood for the next mob.
    After dinner inside the hut the moon began to shine on the snow and the winds were still soft and benign.
    The evening stars became visible and the evening in front of the fire was altogether rather pleasant.We had the hut to ourselves.
    Later we all went off to sleep in our tents but then a fierce gale sprang up and my tent was shaken violently all night.I did not sleep much at all. It was louder than a jet taking off.
    At day break I packed my things up inside my tent. Absent mindedly and starved of sleep I went and put my pack inside the hut . The loaded pack and my own body were the ballast and proverbial paper weights in this wind storm . Yes you learn something on every snow trip!.
    When I returned my tent had been ripped from its moorings, snow pegs were scattered and it was only clinging to a nearby tree in an airbourne posture by the grace of one loose strappy thing.
    I also noticed other important items were taking flight in various directions. I am not a mornings person even though the early starts are part of the modus operandi on such trips , so this sequence of events was discombobulating.
    Then my tent made another bid for space satellite status and I was almost dragged across the snow plain while desperately holding onto my free standing 4 seasons tent. It became snagged on another tree.Then I realized this was not good ( sic). I blew my trusty whistle like a man possessed in order to alert my companions that I required assistance. Thankfully The G. Man came to my aid and we did battle with the wind and managed to drag the tent across the snow plain from the side where the dunny is back to inside the hut. The only damage that occurred to the tent was that one strappy thing had sheared off and was still attached to a snow peg. Otherwise this WE 4 seasons tent was still serviceable. I felt a bit traumatized by the freaky start to the day and solemnly deconstructed the tent indoors, pleasantly surprised that it was neither totally buggered or lost in orbit.The main thing was that nobody was going home in a chopper or in a box.

    The wind was a howling gale and the wind was warm and it was melting and softening the previously ideal snow conditions.
    We expected rain and snow but got sunshine and soft winds on day one( Saturday ) and foul 120 kph winds with good visibility on day two ( Sunday).
    After breakfast inside the hut , once we were all packed up , we set off along the pole line back towards Watch bed creek.
    It was tough and brutal trying to snow shoe in soft snow ,3 kms from the hut to "The Park" in a fierce cross wind , blowing from the North that threatened to blow me over. I lengthened my poles to add stability . My face went numb so I pulled my balaclava right over my exposed skin, mentally and physically I had to summon inner reserves of strength to get back to the Watch bed Creek pole line . Once I was there the wind was not as treacherously strong and diabolically difficult to move through and I could chat with the R man about what an ordeal that was. Day one was heaven and day two had a touch of hell. Even then,despite the wind which was just wrong , XC skiers were out and about, equipped with just a bum bag for a day tour trip along the groomed completely covered trails.
    The weather forecast looked grim and the dark clouds looked very threatening but visibility was still good so that was a plus.
    Once we reached the Watchbed creek sign many others were returning from their ski touring trips, including a large party that had camped at Wallace's hut.
    The last section back to Windy corner around the lake was far from hostile as compared with the Fitzgerald hut pole line experience just an hour or so earlier.It was an easy hike with great snowy scenery and the allure of the end of the trek was further incentive to power back to the car
    When I reached the car I was exhausted. I think about 12 kms per day with a heavy pack in snow shoes is my upper limit.
    I am glad I did it and I saw such amazing views and deep snow cover on the Bogong High Plains.
    Photos by the G man( Grant Davies).
     
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  4. Mister Tee on snow shoes

    Mister Tee on snow shoes Dedicated Member

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    Day one, September 2nd 2017. High Plains drifters. Sun and Snow. I like it!
     
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  5. Mister Tee on snow shoes

    Mister Tee on snow shoes Dedicated Member

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    Rocky Valley Lake, 2/9/17 , totally frozen!
     
  6. Mister Tee on snow shoes

    Mister Tee on snow shoes Dedicated Member

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    The Lake near Falls Creek was frozen. I have never seen that before. 2/9/17
     
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  7. Mister Tee on snow shoes

    Mister Tee on snow shoes Dedicated Member

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    Relaxing & stopping for a snack on day one(2/9/17) at "The Park". We were making good time in mild spring conditions , heading for Fitzgerald's hut.
     
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  8. Mister Tee on snow shoes

    Mister Tee on snow shoes Dedicated Member

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    Mr.T. trudges across the tundra , mile after mile.
     
  9. Mister Tee on snow shoes

    Mister Tee on snow shoes Dedicated Member

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    Mt.Wills as seen from the B.H.P. 2/9/17.
     
  10. Mister Tee on snow shoes

    Mister Tee on snow shoes Dedicated Member

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    Fitzgerald's hut.2/9/17.Notice the new green roof.I think it was red when I was there in January 2017.
     
    #10 Mister Tee on snow shoes, Sep 4, 2017
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2017
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  11. Mister Tee on snow shoes

    Mister Tee on snow shoes Dedicated Member

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    Day 2.A grim slog in a howling gale, from The Hut to The Park.
     
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  12. weerab

    weerab Dedicated Member
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    I did ask you about the new green roof, I think it looks much better. I suppose Parks will have to update all their brochures, or perhaps not!
     
  13. Mister Tee on snow shoes

    Mister Tee on snow shoes Dedicated Member

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    Back on the road to 'civilization' on 3/9/17.Who the hell designed such a thing such as this oddity at Watch bed Creek ? These wanky structures offer no respite from wind and /or precipitation!!
     
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  14. Mister Tee on snow shoes

    Mister Tee on snow shoes Dedicated Member

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    3/9/17.Deep Snow near BHP road .
     
    #14 Mister Tee on snow shoes, Sep 4, 2017
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2017
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  15. Mister Tee on snow shoes

    Mister Tee on snow shoes Dedicated Member

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    2/9/17. Oh Happy days!
     
  16. weerab

    weerab Dedicated Member
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    You would be much happier if you were on skis. You would cover the ground in half the time and have more fun!
     
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  17. Mister Tee on snow shoes

    Mister Tee on snow shoes Dedicated Member

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    I tried XC skiing. I could n't balance too well and stopping was tricky and scary and with a full pack it would be a double disaster.At age 47 I think I have missed the skiing bus.I have had enough accidents on my bicycle. Plus the cost of it is a factor. I have all the gear I need for snow shoe trips and snow camping trips.
     
  18. Xplora

    Xplora Active Member

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    It has been green for quite a few years now. Certainly blends in better but the red roof was good when visibility was poor. Mr. T - try not to leave as many blank pages in the log book before your entry. I counted 4 from your summer trip. Must have been a morning thing, anyway I pulled out those not written on. We left plenty of firewood behind for you so hope it was not all used before and I am sure it was replaced. Looking to make some improvements to the hut in the coming year if funds permit. Hope you did not feed Antionette (antechinus) . She is very friendly and very fat. Loves that north window with the sun as well and will run around at your feet while you sit by the fire. The aqueduct is not too far down for water and is a nice walk. Also good water around Kelly's but we mostly melted snow as well. Amazingly we pitched on grass, likely because of the big rain a week before but the snow elsewhere was good and should be better still now.
     
  19. Mister Tee on snow shoes

    Mister Tee on snow shoes Dedicated Member

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    Watch out where the huskies go and don't you eat that yellow snow!
     
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  20. Mister Tee on snow shoes

    Mister Tee on snow shoes Dedicated Member

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    A crappy low resolution mobile phone photo that I took near Fitzgerald hut late on Saturday 2/9/17.
     
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  21. Ubiquitous Steve

    Ubiquitous Steve Addicted Member
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    Nice report...Saturday was quite a reasonable day and Saturday night was really calm and mild over at Michelle Hut on that weekend.Sunday noon was good visibility too ...you could see the poles on the upper Staircase as Team Bears decended.
    That information sign at Watchbed Ck Turn off was a waste of money..some protection from winds with a rock wall should have been in the design....so that it would be possible to huddle and snack out of the wind and snow....the boulders visible in the corner of Rocky Rocky Valley should have fired up the imaginations of designers that could have made a rock wall shelter fairly visually pleasing in that area.Just up the creek there is already a strange looking river height gauge so a better designed shelter would not have been to damaging on eyes...

    Sounds like you didnot have much wood to work with when starting your fire.....but that something I have got used too.....the reason I deliberately load Huts with firewood when I can.So Sunday would have been a day to rock in and get a decent fire going without having to fossick around in the wind losing further heat.

    I reckon you should give the skis a go....it is so much easy on the terrain you covered to lope along on skis..maybe a little day trip with no pack....along groomed trail to Pretty Valley or something.

    It's a pity your were not heading out.via the Lanes....as soon as you go down the first rise you are right out of the winds.
     
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  22. Mister Tee on snow shoes

    Mister Tee on snow shoes Dedicated Member

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    I have not completely ruled out further attempts at XC skiing. However with a full pack the whole matter of balance changes further, and not for the better for this large unit. I understand the glide you get on the flat and even on slight inclines. The sliding down the slightest of declines is unnerving for this middle aged plodder.
     
  23. tele-whippet

    tele-whippet beard stroker
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    Seriously hire some modern gear and get some lessons.
    Embrace and enjoy the downhills!!
     
  24. Mister Tee on snow shoes

    Mister Tee on snow shoes Dedicated Member

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    The cost of lessons and ski hire are a factor. I don't have a money tree. If it does not happen this season I will try again next year. Even Lake Mountain this Monday could be good for a classic pattern base XC ski plod about the trails.
     
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  25. Xplora

    Xplora Active Member

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    Sounds to me Mr. T cut wood for their own use and left the stuff we (or others after) had cut for others. If you have daylight then that is a good thing as someone may come in at night or in a blizzard and need the firewood ready cut. I know you like leaving a big supply but then people do not feel the need to cut more to replace what they burn until the pile gets down. Thoughtless and lazy people I am talking about and they do not deserve your efforts. Also having a lot of timber at Fitz's hut could encourage people to have a huge fire and we know what happened last time there. I prefer to keep the piles of wood smaller. Cutting firewood warms you twice.

    I did not start skiing as a young man and Mr. T is younger than me so there is hope. He just needs the right advice and maybe loose a bit of weight from his pack. It did not cost too much to set up and I have no money tree either. I did buy Alpina Alaska boots which are basically a higher cuff hiking boot and will fit in snowshoes. They give me enough power for turns. Targa G3 bindings second hand work great too but you can get the Alaska boot in the NNN binding as well if you prefer. It took a few trips to break them in but now they are feeling very comfortable. Madshus Epoch's are working well enough for me as well and picked them up cheap from Rhythm in Cooma (posted) in the off season. They are a pattern base All Mountain ski and all I need is some kicker skins for the type of touring I do. With the weight Mr. T carries, skinny skis will just not cope. Perhaps he and his snowshoeing friends can get together for some lessons next year.

    True but then it would be a long drive back to the other car.
     
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  26. Ubiquitous Steve

    Ubiquitous Steve Addicted Member
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    Lake Mt sounds a good thing...close to Melb....morning tea with Teckel perhaps!!

    I except Xplora statement on firewood for an open fire...most folk well understand that Parks don't collect or supply firewood.However some are still selfish and burn more than they replace.
    Team Bears always try to leave enough dry firewood to enable hypothermic and tired skiers to get a good fire going pronto and to be able to maintain it for a day or so.

    But Bears are happy every bodies pulling their weight and everbodies looking out for one another.

    And we read of Mr Ts tent dramas ...and we all see what things just go wrong even for the most proficient and well prepared in extreme conditions.
     
  27. Mister Tee on snow shoes

    Mister Tee on snow shoes Dedicated Member

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    I learn something every time I go out in the mountain wilderness especially in white season. I rang FINN INDUSTRIES and I can get my 4 seasons tent mended soon.Lake Mtn. for a XC ski plod with a lesson and ski boot/ski/pole hire from Teckel on Monday has appeal.
    Mt. Stirling from TBJ to Howqua Gap is now rated excellent and groomed.It is tempting for a XC ski plod. For a full pack overnight snow trip one would require Alpine Touring skis and boots which are wider and offer more support but others can advise me better since I am merely a snow shoe plodder.
     
  28. Ubiquitous Steve

    Ubiquitous Steve Addicted Member
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    Hey we are all plodders out there.........we do want pics of your preliminary ski trips ...you better check those batteries Mister T.and put that camera in a well cushioned bag!!!

    U r doing the kms......respect. :thumbs::thumbs:
     
  29. neilmny

    neilmny Active Member

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    Mr T if you do go I strongly suggest you have a lesson. $45.00 for a group lesson (they call it public) is really good value.
    Success and the pleasure of XC skiing will come a lot faster. Blundering along trying to work it out for yourself may well just put you off for life.
    Take a lighter day style pack with some water and energy snacks (it is hard work until you relax into it).
    Warm jacket, hat, thermals and wicking layers will make you comfortable. Windproof breathable pants
    and some good socks as well. Not entirely different to what you need when snowshoeing. You need to be able to move freely. You will never be too far (comparatively) from shelter up there.
    Be honest with the instructor about your skills and concerns and make sure you end up in the right level of instruction.
    And don't forget to Ben zee knees! :thumbs:
     
    #29 neilmny, Sep 8, 2017
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2017
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  30. Mister Tee on snow shoes

    Mister Tee on snow shoes Dedicated Member

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    Yes a $45 lesson is part of the plan with hired gear and chains from Teckel.
     
  31. pegasusSki

    pegasusSki Active Member

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    I have a lot of time for Mr T and knowing that he knows his limits, or to be more exact, knows what he and his kit can do.

    Xplora, as I've said, I have the Alpina Alaskas and believe they are the bee knees for 'comfy' XC BC if you have the skill level. Would be fine in cable bindings. I bought them in NNN-BC - but found I did not have enough drive with Parvos. I suspect I need a shorter, fatter ski with more sidecut reflecting my skill-level. With fitted boots, I've gone to AT. I was able to do k's around Falls and not a single blister.

    I have seen a Youtube video of someone 'telemarking' down a trail with Magnums and NNN-BC on something like Epochs. People do it.

    The Alaska also doubles up great as a 'all winter' snow-boot for crampon and snowshow work so I'm chuffed I bought them.
     
  32. Mister Tee on snow shoes

    Mister Tee on snow shoes Dedicated Member

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  33. Xplora

    Xplora Active Member

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    That is a bargain for the Alaska but do they ship to Aus? I prefer the cable bindings and a fatter ski. We will often walk in on dirt so the Alaska's are ideal. I have plastic boots but hate them for walking and sometimes I will take my snowshoes as well so again the Alaska's are perfect for me. They are also sized spot on so buying online if you know your correct size is less of a worry.
    Start small, learn the basics, do the research, hire setups to test then buy what is right for you. Learning to ski with a free heel is probably harder so give it a bit more time. I would not really know as I have never tried it the other way. At first I felt I would never be able to stay upright and the thought of falling at speed is a bit daunting at my age but you get over that. The getting up is harder. Embrace the fall. I am not a great skier. Not even good but I am good enough to get around and have fun. I think the change for me came when going downhill was no longer as hard as going up.
     
  34. Ziggy

    Ziggy Addicted Member
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    I've done a couple of day tours on Magnums and Fischer 112s as an experiment. That's 78mm underfoot and so quite some sidecut. The boot is a Madshus with plastic cuff and instep strap.

    It works on softer snow and straight line touring. Edge control is marginal as you'd expect making the rig less than ideal for overnight touring in all conditions. There's little cuff pressure and that makes telemarking hard.
     
  35. Ziggy

    Ziggy Addicted Member
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    +1 to lessons.
    Treat skis as snow shoes and they're wasted.
     
  36. Mister Tee on snow shoes

    Mister Tee on snow shoes Dedicated Member

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    I can't promise any conversion to skis overnight but I am looking at having a classic XC ski lesson on Monday at either Lake Mtn . or Mt. Stirling.I won't be buying ski gear in a hurry, since I have new CD music album I 'm self funding at the moment. I am a multi instrumentalist and a 'starving jazz musician' .
     
    #36 Mister Tee on snow shoes, Sep 9, 2017
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2017
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  37. Mister Tee on snow shoes

    Mister Tee on snow shoes Dedicated Member

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    Looking fresh and yet to become totally rogered out on Heathy Spur , heading for Fitzgerald's hut.
     
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  38. Mister Tee on snow shoes

    Mister Tee on snow shoes Dedicated Member

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    Yes that is my hair and they are my teeth. No , I do not dye my hair at all .At 48 I am hanging onto the remaining original infrastructure ;-P .
     
  39. Mister Tee on snow shoes

    Mister Tee on snow shoes Dedicated Member

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    Another shot of Monsieur Tee out on the Heathy Spur. The pink headband and the cheap mirror shades : that is my go to look in fair conditions.