January 10, 2010 Snowshoeing week 2.
It is a “warm” 17 degrees today – 10 degrees warmer than last week. So it seems conditions should be OK to get out the snowshoes again today. It is much more overcast and there is a stiff wind blowing over the ridges. The forest preserve seems fairly protected, so I am going for it!
I arrive to find fresh snowshoe tracks on the trail again plus a pair of cross country ski tracks. Working my way straight up the bluff I’m amazed to see the ski tracks wherever I go.
I can hear the brisk wind in the valley. But as I enter the pine forest, it is quiet once again. Encountering a
sign post with a trail map I learn that the only way further into the preserve is to continue up the bluff.
As I reach the top of the bluff the wind gusts return. The winter chill is quite brisk up here! I’m now above the pine tree tops. So I’ve lost any protection from them. Even in the middle of the hardwood forest there are small snow drifts across the trail. The only sign of wildlife up here are deer tracks and I can see why – no protection, bitter wind, and little food.
Do I turn back or continue on? The hearty skier left his trail here. So certainly I can continue. Hiking another 200 yards, the wind is now beginning to make this more like work. I debate whether I should turn back or continue. I continue because I think there is a path back down into the valley a little further on.
But then I see a small shelter ahead along the trail and a clearing with a view of the surrounding countryside. Stopping in the shelter, I catch my breath and enjoy the panoramic view. Despite the overcast sky, the view is breathtaking.
Back on the trail again I follow the cross country ski tracks further into the state forest. Reaching the back edge of the preserve I discover there is no short cut back into the valley like I thought earlier. I must continue and circle back the way I came.
You can see how deep the snow is by looking at the bench in the photo. I continue to follow the tracks of the cross country trail blazer.
Because the snow pack is heavy breaking a new trail is not too hard. However, the deeper snow collects on the back of my snowshoes. Each time I take a new step, the snow laps up on the back of my legs leaving me with wetter and wetter jeans.
Circling back I return to a spot I stopped at earlier. It is time to head back. Reaching the pine forest offers a welcome relief from the wind gusts on the ridge. The birds are even feeding down here.
Back down the trail to my car I head for home where a warm mug of chai tea awaits.
Snowshoe Trail Journal week 2: Marv Eggert, Hillcrest Hide-Away B&B, Lanesboro, MN.