Left to right: Jamie Fanning, Woody Dugan, Bob Popps, Michael Duell, Susanne Lowen, Amy Fanning, Lynne Boudreau and Misha Golfman. Photo: Darlene McCormick.

When Amy Fanning’s husband asked if she would like to go on a five-day backcountry hut-to-hut ski trip in the Chic Choc Mountains in Canada, hosted by the Mad River Path Association, she was intrigued and skeptical. 




“We are Nordic skiers; regulars at Ole’s and occasionally Craftsbury. Reading the trip description online, I learned we would ski an average of 10k per day, carry a 20-plus pound backpack and expect temperatures from zero to 25 degrees in (hopefully) lots of fresh powder.  After a bit of hesitation, I agreed to go,” she said.  

She met trip organizer, Misha Golfman, the director of the Mad River Path, and discussed the details of the expedition. He asked her if she had any questions and she asked “Can I do this?” He replied with an enthusiastic, “Yes!”

Soon after, she and her husband began getting trip planning emails for the group, which included seven people plus Golfman and his wife Lynne Boudreau. A detailed packing list, itinerary and other useful information helped them prepare for their journey to Gaspesie National Park. 

After much anticipation and a long, beautiful drive they arrived at the trailhead. Snow-covered trees and views of mountain peaks kept them going for the first day of gradual uphill climbing.

“My pack was heavy but we took our time and stopped to rest occasionally. Finally, we enjoyed a long downhill, then arrived at our cozy log cabin by the frozen lake. It was serene. Light snow was falling as we went inside to survey what living would be like as we spent two nights here and two at another cabin,” she recalled.



“We were treated to healthy gourmet camp meals cooked by Misha on the woodstove. From burrito bowls to macaroni and cheese for dinner, to bacon, eggs, oatmeal, and grits for breakfast. Each meal was a feast and fortified us for our long ski days,” she added.

Throughout the week the group enjoyed many wild adventures and a range of weather conditions featuring trails reported to be spectacular and varied.

“We crossed lakes in the blowing snow, skied up a stream bed, through wooded areas, up and down hills (some steep), and constructed our own bridge over a raging stream. We witnessed a pink alpenglow before sunset at the end of one day and blowing snow seen with headlamps after dark on another day. The total mileage was 57 kilometers,” Fanny said.

She praised Golfman for his skilled leadership and Boudreau for her compassion, noting that the couple offered a great balance to guide participants.

“The group forged wonderful friendships as we lived in close proximity and shared the common experience of negotiating the trails each day. Playing games in the evening, listening to Misha play the guitar while some sang along, morning yoga and a class on carving a wooden spoon were unexpected pleasures that contributed to making this a trip none of us will ever forget,” she added.

“Spending time in this magnificent Canadian wilderness restored my spirit. It turns out Misha was right. I did it,” she pointed out.