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Winter 2017-2018

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Winter 2017-2018

map icon Round Top Figure 8s AllTrails - Round Top Figure 8s caltopo  icon Gmap4 - Round Top Figure 8s MapMyHike - Round Top Figure 8s On Tuesday, February 13th I wanted to get out on a hike but didn't have much time to spend. I knew the conditions would be poor after the warm weather and rain had eliminated most of the lovely snow that had fallen only a week earlier. I decided just to head across the street and hike on Round Top. Sheila seemed thrilled at the division and couldn't wait to get going I had a few things to do first and wee did not get started until 11:30 AM. The temperature was much cooler than the day before and was in the high 20's as I started to get dressed. Looking over at Round Top convinced me to wear snowshoes and I knew I would get warm. As I got dressed I decided to forego a baselayer on the bottom but put on a light, short-sleeved baselayer under my Mammut crew neck shirt. I pit on my Mammut Ultimate hoody and wore a hat and a pair of gloves. I donned my Salomon B52 boots and put on gaiters just in case. Sheila would not leave my side as I was getting ready as she wanted to make sure she was going too! I stepped out onto the back porch, put on my snowshoes and headed out the slippery driveway at 11:45 AM. The temperature was 28 degrees as we crossed the street with Sheila on her leash and walked to the back of the church. I could immediately see that snowshoes were not necessary and spikes would have been a better call. There was only 2 or 3 inches of snow and it was frozen completely in most places. I knew the snowshoes would also grip the snow and would give me an additional workout. We began the ascent of the steepest hill behind the church. The hill is short but really gets the circulation pumping and is the steepest and longest climb on the "trail". Sheila helped me along by pulling me up the hill. When we got to the top of the hill, we started out on the trail by turning left at the trailhead. As soon as we entered the trees I released Sheila from her leash. At the first trail junction we continued straight ahead to walk the steeper path to the viewpoint. At the lookout we turned to the right and we continued our hike on the yellow lower trail.

We followed the trail and started the gentle climb through the woods which had two or three inches of packed and snow. When we reached the next trail junction, we stayed to the right to follow the lower trail around the base of Round Top to the next junction. At this junction we turned left and started up to the summit of Round Top on the steeper blue trail. The snowshoes definitely made the going easier although they are better suited for looser, fluffy snow. We walked across the summit of Round Top and down the other side which is also a little steep. Again, the anowshoes helped in the descent but I was wishing there was more snow. When we got to the yellow trail, we turned left to follow it to the second trail junction. This time we turned right and followed the yellow trail back to the very first trail junction to complete a figure 8. Sheila and I turned around and retraced our steps taking the more gentle path this time. When the yellow trail turned left, we followed it to the next trail junction where we turned right and headed up the blue trail to the summit. We walked over the top and down the other side to the yellow trail again. I was beginning to get bored and my time was limited as we turned right and followed the trail along the base of Round Top. Where the yellow trail turned left, we continued to follow the trail to the left and down to the lookout. From the lookout we walked down hill to the first trail junction. I decided it was time to head home so we continued straight out to the trailhead. I was a little depressed to think that the beautiful snow would soon be gone but knew it was still winter and more would be on the way. Sheila did not seem to be bothered by the cold at all and had been well-behaved staying with me most of the time. At the trailhead, I put Sheila on her leash and we walked down the cemetery hill and across the field to our driveway. It was after 12:45 PM and we had hiked a little under 2 miles in 1 hour and 15 minutes. It must have been a good workout as I was tired after so many days without an activity.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon GPSies - Frick Pond (Loggers Loop Counter) AllTrails - Frick Pond (Loggers Loop Counter) CalTopo - Frick Pond (Loggers Loop Counter) Gmap4 - Frick Pond (Loggers Loop Counter) MapMyHike - Frick Pond (Loggers Loop Counter) On Friday, February 9th, I wanted to get out for a snowshoe hike since the forecast for the next two days included warmer temperatures and rain! I decided to go back to Frock Pond and do a different loop than Lisa and I had done earlier in the week. Cindy agreed to go along and after doing a few things around the house we dressed and got our gear together. It was still only 19 ogres as we were getting ready to go at 10:30 AM but there was little or no wind. I knew that snowshoeing always makes me very warm. I put on tights and wore a Mammut pullover over my baselayer. I put on my Mammut Ultimate Hoody which I wear most of the time. I chose my Tubbs Alp Flex VTR snowshoes which are a little smaller than some and have the BOA binding system. I knew I wouldn't need the flotation since the snow depth was only 6 to 10 inches. The BOA system uses a dial to tighten a thin but strong wire and seems to evenly tighten the binding around my foot. Cindy also decided to wear her version of the same snowshoe. Sheila was more crazed than usual even though we had been out a few days before. We left Livingston Manor just after 10:45 AM to head out the Debruce Road. The road had some icy spots but for the most part was well plowed. At six miles I turned left onto Mongaup Pond Road which had some snow on it but had been plowed and well sanded. Where the road split I stayed left on Beech Mountain Road. The smaller lot had not been plowed at all so I parked in the larger lot which was plowed. There were no cars in the lot and no tracks indicating anyone had been there recently. I set my electronics and we put on our snowshoes. We headed out the back of the parking area on the Quick Lake Trail. The snow was deep in spots and snowshoes worked well although they may not have been necessary. I immediately noosed that the snow had a frozen upper crust which made walking more difficult. The snowshoe would break through, go down into the snow and then have to be pulled back up through the crust. I knew Thu would be tiring work if we had to break trail the whole way. At the trail register we turned left onto the wide woods road that leads to Frick Pond. I could see some depressions to indicate our tracks from a few days before but they were very faint. We stayed left at Gravestone Junction to walk down to the pond. At the bridge, I put my pack down and got out my camera and took pictures of the pond and Flynn's Point. Some snow was falling and Flynn's Point was almost obscured. I took a few shots of Cindy And Sheila before packing up to move on. We walked across the bridge and around the west edge of the pond. At the next trail junction I had intended to stay to the left on the Quick Lake Trail, hike to Iron Wheel Junction and then take the Logger's Loop back. Listening to Cindy, I turned right to get on the yellow-blazed Big Rock Trail and headed around the back of Frick Pond. After passing over the wooden walkways we came to a bridge where there was a god view of the wetlands at the head of the pond. I took some pictures of the snow-covered walkways. We headed toward Time Square knowing that a single lop around the pond would not be enough exercise. I thought about reversing the loop to break the trail for the next people that might want to use it..

picture taken during a hike At Times Square we were surprised to see snowmobile tracks coming down the Big Rock Trail and turning onto the Logger's Loop. Walking on the packed snow is much easier than breaking trail so we both agreed to turn left on the Logger's Loop knowing the trail would be packed all the way to Iron Wheel Junction. From there it would be a short trip breaking trail downhill back to Frick Pond. The trail, ascends a bit and then levels off. As the trail leveled we began to hear the sound of snowmobiles coming down the Big Rock Trail toward us. I wondered if the snowmobile club had cleared the larger blowdown on the Big Rock Trail or if somehow the snowmobilers had worked around them. As they got nearer, I took Sheila by the collar and we stepped off the trail. Within minutes three machines came toward us and slowed down as they passed. The riders waved but I was pretty sure they were not acquaintances or they would have stopped. We continued on the Logger's Loop toward Iron Wheel Junction appreciating the nicely packed trail. Soon we were at the trail junction where we turned left on the Quick Lake trail to head back to Frick Pond. Walking downhill toward the little stream in the woods was easier than walking uphill or even on flat sections. However, the hiking was not easy as we had to contend with the crusty snow again. I noticed that for most of the hike Sheila had elected to stay between us walking in the broken trail. When we walked under trees where the snow was softer, she would take a few moments to wander off following her nose. When we arrived at the stream through the woods, I elected to walk upstream to cross as I did not want to chance stepping in the water and have snow frozen to my snowshoes for the rest of the hike. Cindy elected to cross the stream in the most direct way. When I got back to the main trail. I waited for her to pick herself up out of the snow and rejoin me. As we walked through the "spruce tunnel", the snow lacked the crust and the walking was much easier. When we exited, the trees the crusty snow started in again and my legs let me know we would be finishing soon! We arrived at the junction with the Big Rock Trail and continued straight ahead. Soon we were back at the bridge over the outlet to Frick Pond where it was clear the snow had increased in intensity. We did not stopped but crossed the bridge and walked up the hill to follow the Quick Lake Trail back to the register. At Gravestone Junction we found new tracks from someone with snowshoes who had headed out on the Logger's Loop. We walked the woods road back out to register and I noticed the snowshoer must have been a novice as they had made a new track rather than improve the one we had already laid down. Many beginners do this without thinking but it is a shame sine improving the existing track is always the best idea. At the register we turned right to follow the Quick Lake Trail back out to the car. We arrived back at 1:35 PM after hiking 3.9 miles in 2 and a half hours. The overall elevation gain was a modest 375 feet. Despite the length of the hike my legs felt as if they had gotten and adequate workout.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon GPSies - Frick Pond (Flynn and Big Rock) AllTrails - Frick Pond (Flynn and Big Rock) Gmap4 - Frick Pond (Flynn and Big Rock) MapMyHike - Frick Pond (Flynn and Big Rock) On Tuesday, February 6th, the snow had finally built up to a depth where using snowshoes would be possible although they were probably not necessary. I had not hiked in a week and that was a short hike on Round Top. When Lisa called the night before, we decided to meet at 10:00 AM at my house and go to Frick Pond. My plan was to ascend the Flynn Trail and then get the long descent on the Big Rock Trail. Unfortunately, I had an ambulance call in the middle of the night and was tired in the morning. I almost called to cancel but decided I needed to get out to hike! I did a few things around the hose and then got my equipment ready. The temperature was approaching 20 degrees when I was about to get dressed and I knew that snowshoeing always makes me very warm. I put on tights and wore a Mammut pullover over my baselayer. I put on my Mammut Ultimate Hoody which I wear most of the time. I chose my Tubbs Alp Flex VTR snowshoes which are a little smaller than some and have the BOA binding system. I knew I wouldn't need the flotation since the snow depth was only 6 to 8 inches. The BOA system uses a dial to tighten a thin but strong wire and seems to evenly tighten the binding around my foot. Sheila was more crazed than usual as it had been so long since we had been out. Lisa arrived and Sheila gave her a lavish greeting from the back seat. We left Livingston Manor just after 10:00 AM to head out the Debruce Road. It had snowed a little in the morning but Debruce Road was clear. At six miles I turned left onto Mongaup Pond Road which had some snow on it but had been plowed and well sanded. Where the road split I stayed left on Beech Mountain Road and parked in the small lot which was plowed. There were no cars in the lot and no tracks indicating anyone had been there recently. I set my electronics and we put on our snowshoes. I took a few pictures of the trailhead and the road before we crossed the road at 10:30 AM to start up the Flynn Trail. The temperature was still right around 20 degrees so the snow was crunchy underfoot and was not clumping on the snowshoes. Lisa had chosen to use my Crescent Moon snowshoes which are good on flat and rolling terrain. They have some of the best bindings and a teardrop shape. Lisa stopped to sign in at the trail register but I continued on the trail. I found that I was warm as long as I was moving but felt cool as son as I stopped. I hoped that I had not dressed too lightly! The first part of the Flynn Trail through the woods is narrow but I was having no trouble overlapping the smaller snowshoes. Once we made the right turn into the woods road the going was easier. There were no tracks at all in the fresh snow other than those made my various animals including Sheila as she bounded ahead joyfully. I tried to get her to make a nice straight path up the trail but she kept getting sidetracked following various tracks. It is surprising how much easier it is to move even in the shallow trail made by a small dog. Before we had gone half a mile I had stopped to open some zippers and dump some heat. The walk with snowshoes is definitely more of a workout than without. As long as we were stopped I took a few pictures of the unbroken snow on the trail. As we gained some elevation, the snow got deeper until there was almost 8 inches.

picture taken during a hike We continued up the Flynn Trail toward the junction with the Big Rock Trail. I was feeling pretty good at first but as we approached the trail junction I could feel some soreness on the inside of my thighs. This always happens for the first few times I snowshoe but then goes away as I snowshoe more. This winter I had only been out twice before and had not had time to get in shape! At 11:50 AM we were at the trail junction with the Big Rock Trail. It had taken just about an hour and 15 minutes to walk the 1.7 miles from the parking area. The snow on the Big Rock Trail was unbroken as we turned to start the long descent. At the trail junction we turned left to go down the Big Rock trail to Times Square. I was sure I didn't have any more "ups" left in me but the descent felt great. I like descending on snowshoes since, at times, you can almost ski down. The trail was completely unbroken and there was at least 8 inches of snow in most places. The trip down the Big Rock Trail went quickly although it seemed a little longer than usual. In several places, large trees had fallen across the trail and had not yet been cleared by the snowmobile club. I took a few pictures and then we continued our walk. There are three places where the trail drops quickly and then levels off. The last place brought us right to Times Square where the Logger's Loop and Big Rock Trail cross. Sheila was having a great time and did not seem to be bothered in any way by the snow or temperature. She kept going off the trail to follow animals tracks but returned quickly when I called. We continued straight ahead at Times square to go around the back of Frick Pond. Here the snow showed some snowshoe tracks that were several days old. The hike around the pond is a favorite and is one promoted by Lisa at Morgan Outdoors in Livingston Manor. The snow on the trail was packed a little from the traffic but fresh snow had fallen on top of them. Once we approached the bridges and wooden walkways the snow was deeper and we stopped so that I could again take a few shots. The skies which had been overcast were clearing to blue with some clouds. The wooden walkways were covered in snow that was deeper than anywhere else. Some snow had fallen through the opening between the boards and this formed an interesting pattern. We continued to walk until we came to the junction with the Quick Lake Trail. Here we turned left and headed for the bridge across the outlet of Frick Pond. We stopped briefly at the bridge and I took a few pictures of the pond and Flynn's Point. We walked up the hill to Gravestone Junction to head back to the parking area and I felt even this short uphill in my legs. The trail was well covered in snow with only a few spots where there was some water. We were back at 1:15 PM having covered 3.9 miles in 2 hours and 40 minutes with an elevation gain of 680 feet.

map icon Round Top Figure 8s AllTrails - Round Top Figure 8s caltopo  icon Gmap4 - Round Top Figure 8s MapMyHike - Round Top Figure 8s On Tuesday, January 30th I decided I needed to get out for a walk despite the limited amount of time available. I had hiked with Cindy at Long Pond on Sunday but knew that the rest of my week would be busy. I decided we would go up on Round Top and do some figure 8's or loops. We waited until the snow and wind abated and got ready to go just before noon. As I got dressed I decided to wear a baselayer top and bottom and to wear a heavier Patagonia wool top under my Mammut Ultimate hoody. as the temperatures was in the teens and the wind was still blowing. I wore a heavier hat and a pair of gloves. I donned my Salomon B52 boots which are a little wider than the Nytros and put on OR Crocodile gaiters. I decided that there was not enough snow to wear snowshoes and I did not want to take my pack so I could not bring my spikes. Sheila, as usual, would not leave my side as I was getting ready as she wanted to make sure she was going too! We stepped out onto the back porch and headed out the driveway, which was slipperier than I thought, at 12:05 PM. The temperature was 20 degrees but the wind was blowing as we crossed the street with Sheila on her leash and walked to the back of the church. We began the ascent of the steepest hill behind the church. The hill is short but really gets the circulation pumping and is the steepest and longest climb on the "trail". Sheila helped me along by pulling me up the hill. When we got to the top of the hill, we started out on the trail by turning left at the trailhead. As soon as we entered the trees I released Sheila from her leash and she began to run around enjoying the snow. At the first trail junction we continued straight ahead to walk the steeper path to the viewpoint.

As we approached the lookout, I had a good view down into town as we turned to the right to continue our hike on the yellow lower trail. We followed the trail and started the gentle climb through the woods which had few inches of snow. When we reached the next trail junction, we continued straight ahead on the blue rail toward the summit of Round Top. This trail is a little steep and it was slippery. I stayed to the side of the trail keeping one foot on the rougher surface at the side of the trail. We walked to the top and followed the trail across the summit and down the other side. The descent was tricky as the trail was packed and icy. When we reached the yellow trail, I decided to try a new variation so we turned right and followed the yellow trail along the base of Round Top and then back down to the lookout. We followed the trail to the left and walked back down to the first trail junction. This made sort of a lollipop with the upper blue loop forming the main body and the repeated part the stick. I was a little tired but I knew we would have to do another. This time we turned left and headed up the woods road which is the gentler approach. At the trail junction we continued straight ahead toward the summit of Round Top. We followed the blue trail across the summit and won the other side. The descent is steeper and required me to carefully plant my feet. When we reached the yellow trail, we turned left and followed it along the base of Round Top. At the trail junction we turned right to follow the yellow trail along the old woods road and back to the first trail junction. We had been out for over an hour so I decided to tune left and head back out to the trailhead. We walked won the cemetery hill to the church where I put Sheila on her leash. We traversed the field and crossed the street. After a short walk down the driveway we were home. We had covered a little over 2 miles in just over an hour. A short trip but better than none!

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon GPSies - Long Pond (Big Loop) alltrails icon caltopo  icon gmap4  icon mapmyhike  icon On Sunday, January28th I was trying to decide whether or not I would go for a hike after church. I was a little tired an a lot lazy and had almost decided to stay home. As we drove home from church, the cloudy skies began to clear and Cindy asked me if I intended to go hiking. I told her that if she wanted to go I would go. I suggested we head for Long Pond to do a sort of figure 8 which is about 7.2 miles. I knew the late start would limit our options but felt that the trails would be largely free of ice due to the recent rains and high temperatures. We had Laos not been to long Pond in some time. When we got home and said the word hike, Sheila immediately indicated it was a good idea. Cindy got some lunch and we both got dressed and put our gear together. I decided to only wear a very light baselayer n top with a lighter Mammut pullover. I did wear my Mammut Ultimate hoody and Columbia Omniheat pants. I opted to wear a regular pair of hiking boots rather than winter boots. My Keen Glarus boots are a great fit and more comfortable than any insulated winter boots I have. I also decided to use a pair of Leki Khumbu with external locks as my Leki graphite poles have twist locks which are unreliable. Every hike when I have used these poles they have shortened despite my best efforts to keep them tight! When we left the house at about 12:50 PM the skies were partly sunny and the temperature was 45 degrees which is warm for late January in the Catskills. I got Sheila in the car and we put our gear in the trunk and headed out DeBruce Road for about 8 miles to Flugertown Road where I made a left. I parked in the lot a short distance up the road on the right where we found no cars. Sheila had not hiked in two days and she was ready to go when we got to the parking lot. There was some snow where the lot had been plowed and a little ice on the trail but Cindy and I elected to carry our spikes rather than put them on immediately. I set my GarminGPS and we started out on the trail at 1:15 PM. Right from the start the trail was wet and somewhat muddy and we walked to the side in several places to avoid the icy spots. The first .6 miles gains about 350 feet to the highest point on the hike. It isn't very steep but does act as a nice warm-up! We had to be careful to avoid the ice which wasn't easy in some spots. Once the trail leveled it was easier walking but the partly frozen ground would occasionally give way under our feet. At 1.1 miles we were at the spur trail that leads down to the shore of Long Pond. We turned right and went down to the pond so that I could take some pictures. At the shores of the pond I dropped my pack and got out my camera to take some pictures. Sheila tried to follow me through the mud but we discouraged her. The skies were very blue and the pond was frozen over but the scene was pretty bleak. I took a few shots anyway before going back to my pack. We returned to the main trail and arrived at the first trail junction. My plan had been to turn left here to do a figure 8 walk but with the amount of ice and water I decided to simply do a big loop in a counterclockwise direction. This would allow us to walk back on the roads which are at least flat. We turned right at the junction at 1.3 miles. We found plenty of ice in spots and the frozen ground continued to be a problem but the walking was relatively easy. By 2:10 PM we had walked 1.8 miles and were passing the spur trail to the lean-to.

picture taken during a hike After passing the trail to the lean-to, the ice disappeared and we could hardly see any snow. There isn't much to see on this section of trail but we kept busy by avoiding the icy and wet spots. We continued on the main trail to the point where it intersects a woods road at 2.6 miles. We turned left on the woods road and found it to be very wet with icy patches. I was glad the ground was still partly frozen or this would have been a muddy mess. We followed the road until the intersection with Basily Road at 2.85 miles where we continued on Basily Road by bearing left. This section of road was very icy and for a while we tried walking on the sides where there was less ice. We finally came to a point where there was a downhill stretch completely covered over in ice and we agreed to stop on put on spikes. After donning my spikes, I took a pictures of a massive ice flow across the road. The ice continued for some time and then abated. We decided that as long as we were walking on soft ground we would keep the spikes on. As we approached the Peters Hunting Camp, I got ready to put Sheila on her leash. The area near the footbridge across the outlet to the beaver pond had freely flowing water and the bridge seemed to be almost superfluous with weeds growing around it. The bridge is starting to show its age and is not in good shape. I stopped to take some pictures of the beaver pond before we continued on the trail. As I looked over toward the private bridge over the creek, I noosed that it looked new. The old bridge was beginning to show its age and I knew the hunting camp would have to replace it eventually. We continued on the main trail to the bridge and found that it was all new and well-constructed. I took some pictures of it and a few pictures of the stream from it. We crossed the bridge to continue the trip back to the car. The ford downstream of the bridge looked like it had been getting a lot of use by vehicles but the water can be a little deep and wide for foot traffic. As we started up the little hill from the hunting camp, the ice returned so we were glad we had left our spikes on. I took a few shots of the valley which looked peaceful with the nice skies behind it. From this point on the ice returned and there was a significant amount of snow in the woods. I stopped to take a few shots and then we continued our hike. At one point I heard what sounded like a truck coming toward us but it was hard to hear above the noise of the creek. A red pickup truck approached us and I grabbed Sheila as the driver slowed as he passed. We kept a fast pace even thought was icy and eventually the road became paved. We stopped to remove our spikes and then continued down the road toward the car. As we approached the road bridge over the creek we could see quite a few trees had been gnawed down by beavers. There was a small dam just downstream of the bridge which was impounding a larger amount of water. I took out my camera and photographed the dam and the areas where the beavers had cut down trees. After a short stop, we started back for the car and on the way the red pickup passed us once again. We walked quickly down the road back to the parking area without meeting anyone else. We were back at the car at 4:10 PM having hiked 6.0 miles in 2 hours and 55 minutes with 20 minutes of stopped time. The elevation gain was only about 545 feet most of which was at the beginning of the hike.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon Trout Pond (Counterclockwise) alltrails icon caltopo  icon gmap4  icon mapmyhike  icon On Thursday, Januaury 25th I Wanted to get in a longer hike where there was a waterfall that might have been augmented by the recent rain and melting snow. I decided to hike the Trout Pond loop so that I could visit Russell Brook Falls. When I awoke at 6:30 AM the air temperature was in the single digits with a slight breeze and I really wanted to crawl back into a warm bed. I decided to wait a little while and do some chores around town. Just before 10:00 AM I decided I did not want to wait any longer and began to get dressed and out my gear together. I put on a baselayer top and bottom and wore a heavier Patagonia wool top. I put on my Columbia Omniheat pants and, as always, a Mammut Ultimate hoody. I wore a heavier hat and loves and packed a pair of mitts just in case. I knew I would not need snowshoes but put a pair of spikes in my pack. I also decided to put on a pair of winter boots settling on my Salomon B-52 which are a little wider than some. Sheila was ready to go and stayed close so that I would not forget her. I put my pack in the trunk and Sheila in the backseat and headed for Roscoe on the Quickway a little before 10:00 AM. I drove out the Rockland Flats on Route 206. Just after the Roscoe Nursing Home I turned left on Morton Hill Road and followed it for 3 miles to the intersection with Russell Brook Road. I turned around and parked on the side of the road avoiding the private parking area. When I opened the car door, I was hit my a blast of cold air. I checked the car thermometer and found that it was only 14 degrees and that there was a stiff breeze. I knew the solution was to get moving so I grabbed my poles, set the GPS and started down Russell Brook Road. After only a few feet, I could tell I would need the spikes. I picked a spot on the side of the road and sat to put them on as I find it easier than trying to balance on one leg. Once the spikes were on I was confident that they would do the trick and walked down the road on the ice. It was so cold that the ice was very firm and the spikes made a lot of noise as they bit into the ice. The forecast was for cloudy skies but there was plenty of blue and the sun was out as we continued down the road. I listened for the sound of the water in the brook and heard a good amount of noise. When we came to the viewpoint over the upper falls, I could see there was a large volume of water going over the falls so I headed down the bank to a viewpoint. I put down my pack and got out the camera. When I took off my gloves, it was clear that it was still very cold! I took some shots of the falls with different settings and was glad that the bight seemed good. There were no cars in the lot but the gate was open to allow snowmobiles access to the trails. We continued down the road and crossed the bridge over Russell Brook. I found that the Japanese knotweed appeared completely dead but knew it would be back next spring. We continued on the road turning right on the path to the falls. We walked over to the path down the bank to the streambed and carefully descended to the brook. The falls were flowing nicely and there was another "falls" of frozen water to the right of the flowing water. I got out my camera and took some pictures of the falls and then posed Sheila sitting just in front of the falls. After Sheila walked away, I took a few more pictures before putting away the camera and walking back out to the main trail. At the trail junction just after the register we continued straight ahead to walk up to Trout Pond. The trail was almost bare in some spots where it had good exposure to the sun but once we were under the trees I was glad I kept the spikes on. When we arrived at the pond, we walked to the left to the "beach" at the outlet end of the pond. The water level was high and the pond was completely frozen over. The skies were very blue so I knew I had to take some pictures. I took some panoramic pictures and then zoomed in on different parts of the scene. Sheila decided to walk out on the thin ice which, fortunately, supported her weight. I took some pictures of her before stowing the camera to continue the hike.

picture taken during a hike We continued on the main trail on the east side of Trout Pond walking toward the inlet end and the lean-tos. The trail continued to be very icy but there were a few spots of open water to be avoided. I was beginning to get warm even though the climb is very gentle and the air temperature was still low with a breeze. I had thought we might turn around at the pond but I was in a good mood and warm enough to continue on the loop. We passed by the first lean-to and crossed the bridge over the inlet stream. I took a look at the scene and decided I did not want to take pictures. We turned right to follow the trail up Cherry Ridge. As we hiked I found it satisfying to look at the many places where I had cleared branches and blowdowns from the trail. There were some new branches on the trail and several small blowdowns I was able to clear by moving them to the side of the trail. There was ice and the trail and on the rocks and I paid careful attention to where I put my feet. The spikes work well on thick layers of ice but don't help as much with thin layers of ice on rocks. Soon we were at the highest point on Cherry Ridge and starting down the other side. I anticipated that the trail would have less ice with the southern exposure but the trail continued to be frozen. There were some places that had open water and I walked off trail several times to avoid it. Sheila was having a great time and never did anything to hint that she was uncomfortable in the cold. Soon at the woods road and snowmobile trail that runs by Mud Pond. We turned left and start the short walk uphill on a sheet of ice. At the top of the hill we began the long descent back to the trail junction where we had started. The descent lasts for .7 miles and drops 385 feet to a bridge that crosses the outlet stream from Trout Pond. This part of the trail was the first place where it was clear that the sun had beaten back the ice a little. There were still many icy spots so I left the spikes on as we crossed the bridge over the outlet stream from the pond. At the junction we turned right and headed back out to the lower parking area. Sometimes the walk back up Russell Brook Road seems long and tedious but I was still feeling fresh and the spikes gave me the confidence to push the pace. We started up the road and soon arrived back at the car. It was 1:05 PM when we arrived back at the car after hiking 5.6 miles in 2 hours and 40 minutes with a 1130 foot total ascent. The temperature on the car thermometer was 18 degrees but I was satisfied with the hike and had not noticed the cold.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon GPSies - Neversink Unique Denton Mullet Counterclockwise AllTrails - Neversink Unique Denton Mullet Counterclockwise CalTopo - Neversink Unique Northcaltopo  icon Gmap4 - Neversink Unique Denton Mullet Counterclockwise MapMyHike - Neversink Unique Denton Mullet Counterclockwise On Saturday, January 20th, the weather forecast was for a beautiful sunny day with highs reaching into the high 30's or near I . I wanted to do a hike close to home but NOT on Round Top or at Frick Pond. These are my "go to" places and I had gone to the too often over the previous few weeks. I thought the Neversink Unique Area might be interesting an mentioned it to Cindy. She looked at me a little strangely and said she had been thinking the same thing! We knew that the rising temperatures would make the snow unsuitable for using snowshoes by the afternoon so we tried to get out early. As we got our gear together, Sheila watched us carefully to be sure we couldn't "forget" her. Even though the temperatures were supposed to rise it was still cool in the morning so I put on a full baselayer but opted for a lighter Mammut crew top under my Mammut Ultimate Hoody. I also wore a warmer hat and gloves. I decided to swift to my older Salomon b52 boot as they are wider than the Nytros. We bother decided gaiters were a good idea and wore our OR Crocodiles which have a plastic strap that goes underneath the boot. It is surpassing how important that strap can be as many other gaiters have a cloth string that ties under the boot which collects snow making for a very uncomfortable experience as the snow builds up. We both took our Tubbs AlpFlex VTR snowshoes which are smaller than some others we have but have bindings with a boa system and are easy to get on and off. We left home at 10:05 AM. Sheila seemed very happy that all of us were going somewhere as she was very alert in the back seat. I got on Route 17 and started for Rock Hill. I got off the Quickway at exit 109 and turned right on Katrina Falls Road to drive to the end of the road. I parked at 10:25 AM in the small parking area where there were no other cars. I walked over to the trail and found it was packed by previous snowshoes and that the snow depth was only a few inches. Cindy and I decided that snowshoes would not be needed. She put on her spikes but I decided to carry mine in my pack. I set my GPS and we started down the woods road toward the river intending to hike the loop to Denton and Mullet Falls. I thought that the recent cold weather might have left some ice on the river and that Mullet Falls might be frozen. Both of these would be interesting for photography and I was hoping for good light for some shots. Sheila was certainly anxious to get going as both she and I prefer several hikes a week! The temperature was in the mid 20's and the breeze made it seem a little colder. As we walked down the hill passed the trail register, we both were satisfied we had made he right decision by leaving the snowshoes behind. The snow covered the many rocks usually found on the trail and made walking easier as we kept a quick pace. We turned left at the bottom of the hill to stay on the main trail and came to the small bridge over Wolf Brook. The water was pretty high and much of it was frozen so I had to stop to take a few pictures. The condition of the bridge continues to deteriorate and soon will be impassable. The trail after the bridge was frozen and there was no open water to negotiate. At the top of the next small hill, we stayed to the right to hike the loop counterclockwise hitting Denton Falls on the Neversink first and then the falls on Mullet Brook.

picture taken during a hike The snowshoers had gone straight ahead and the path we were taking was unbroken snow. This didn't seem like a problem as there were only a few inches but Cindy found that her spikes became useless as they developed huge clumps of snow. She removed them and stored them in my pack and we moved on. It seemed like it took longer than usual for us to arrive at the lower bridge over Mullet Brook. Walking on the snow meant a certain amount of slipping and sliding and the snow underfoot was uncomfortable at times. The bridge has been replaced with a new one that has a pair of steel I-beams as its main support and should last a long time. We stopped and I took a few pictures of the bridge and the frozen stream. I also posed Cindy and Sheila for a couple of shots. Cindy was not enthusiastic about hiking down the hill to the river and back but it was one of my "requirements" for this hike. At 1.4 miles we turned right following the yellow spur trail blazes downhill toward Denton Falls. The trail down to the falls is not well marked but we have been there many times and were able to pick up the blazes. As the trail began a steeper descent, Cindy announced that she would wait for us rather than go down to the river. I knew it wouldn't take us to long so Sheila and I continued. The descent was a little scary in places as the trail had both ice and snow and the spikes I had in my pack had proved to be ineffective. I slipped and slid down the trail until I was at the final descent to the river which was the trickiest part. After hiking 1.65 miles, we were at the rocks near the edge of Denton Falls which were covered in ice and snow. The river was flowing nicely and there were large chucks of ice and frozen areas in several places. I dropped my pack and started to take some pictures. Upstream the sky was bright blue with white clouds which contrasted to the view downstream which was largely overcast. Sheila seemed smart enough not to try to jump into the fast-moving water and frigid water. I was not able to walk along the rocks to get below the falls sine it was very slippery. I soon realized that we were walking on huge chunks of ice that had been pushed onto shore! I took quite a few pictures of the falls and some both upstream and downstream. The falls are hardly three feet high but the volume of water and the ice made the trip worthwhile. Sheila even posed for a few shots sitting on a rock by the falls. We headed back up the spur trail to the main trail which was made difficult by the snow which was getting slipperier as it melted. We rejoined Cindy and walked back to the trail junction and we turned right on the main trail and then left at the fork. The trail to the right leads to High Falls and I knew this would not be a good idea since it would add four miles of unbroken trail to our hike!

picture taken during a hike After a brief walk uphill, we turned left onto the short trail down to Mullet Brook Falls which did have some older snowshoe tracks which had come from the other direction. I was excited to see what Mullet Brook Falls might look like and soon they came into sight, I was pleased to find that the waterfall was encased in ice although it was a little brown. The water comes from a large swamp further upstream and is full of tannins which give it a brown color. I dropped my pack where the trail ended and grabbed my camera to take some pictures. The problem was that the route to the area in front of the falls was also encased in ice! I worked my way across the frozen stream hoping the ice would not break. I then carefully climbed on the rocks which were covered in ice and snow. Sheila had already run ahead and was cavorting on the icy rocks. I took some shots of the stream and the n turned my attention to the falls. The lighting was good so I took quite a few pictures of the falls and the pool below. There was a lot of ice which I knew would soon be gone with temperatures rising into the 40's early in the week. Eventually it was time to leave. I worked my way down the icy rocks and across the frozen stream without incident. I put away my camera and shouldered my pack to head back out the spur trail. We walked back out to the main trail and turned left to complete the loop. As we climbed we noticed the rocky ledges to our right and I thought about exploring them at some time in the future. The uphill walk in the snow was tiring but we were both glad the track was somewhat broken. It was clear the temperature was rising as the snow continued to get softer. Soon we crossed over the upper bridge spanning Mullet Brook. I stopped on the bridge to show Cindy the beginning of the large swamp on the right. From the bridge the trail is flat or downhill for some time. After a brief walk we were at a trail junction. Walking straight ahead on the trail leads to the Wolf Lake Multiple Use Area. We turned left and began to descend off the ridge. As we started to walk downhill, we met two young men hiking toward us and I held Shiela's collar to allow them to pass. As we hiked downhill, there were several areas of the trail that had plodded leaving large expanses of ice behind. We walked downhill for some time and eventually came to the trail junction near the bridge over Wolf Creek where we had started the loop earlier. We continued to walk straight ahead to return to the parking area. Once on the other side of the brook we made the right turn on the woods road back to the car. We were enthusiastic about the uphill walk back to the car made harder by the snow on the trail. We arrived at the parking area at 1:30 PM having hiked 4.7 miles in 2 hours and 55 minutes including the stops at the two falls. The vertical gain was only about 990 feet. We were both tired and thinking about making a stop for food on the way home.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon Round Top Figure 8s AllTrails - Round Top Figure 8s caltopo  icon Gmap4 - Round Top Figure 8s MapMyHike - Round Top Figure 8s On Wednesday, January 17th school was closed for the second day in a row as several inches of snow made the roads very slick in the morning. I wanted to get out to hike and take some pictures of the trees covered in snow but did not want to chance driving the back roads which would be the last to be plowed. Cindy and I decided we would go up on Round Top and do some figure 8's or loops. We waited until the snow and wind abated and got ready to go just before noon. As I got dressed I decided to wear a baselayer top and bottom and to wear a heavier Patagonia wool top under my Mammut Ultimate hoody. I wore a heavier hat and a pair of gloves. I donned my Salomon Nytro boots and put on OR Crocodile gaiters. Cindy and I decided that it had snowed enough to wear snowshoes even if they weren't exactly needed. She put on her Tubbs AlpFlex VTRs while I opted for my Crescent Moon Gold snowshoes. They are are wider and longer than others I have and are good for breaking trail when I am not doing any "technical" hiking. Sheila, as usual, would not leave my side as I was getting ready as she wanted to make sure she was going too! We stepped out onto the back porch, put on our snowshoes and headed out the slippery driveway at 12:05 PM. I had my pack on as it is the only easy way to carry my camera. The temperature was 23 degrees but the wind was blowing as we crossed the street with Sheila on her leash and walked to the back of the church. I though about taking some pictures but decided to wait at least until we got to the hill. We did stop before climbing the hill behind the church so that I could take some pictures of the new and unbroken snow. We began the ascent of the steepest hill behind the church. The hill is short but really gets the circulation pumping and is the steepest and longest climb on the "trail". Sheila helped me along by pulling me up the hill which was a little harder to climb with the snowshoes. When we got to the top of the hill, we stopped and I took a variety of shots of the snow covered cemetery and town. We started out on the trail by turning left at the trailhead. As soon as we entered the trees I released Sheila from her leash and she began to run around enjoying the snow. At the first trail junction we continued straight ahead to walk the steeper path to the viewpoint.

picture taken during a hike As we approached the lookout, I turned to the left and walked out to the lower rock ledges which give a clearer view of the school and downtown. I took out my camera and took off my gloves. I took a few quick shots including some of Cindy and Sheila on the upper ledge. I put my camera back in the pack and put my gloves back on. In the short time I had bare hands they became very cold! I climbed to the upper ledge and we turned to the right and to continue our hike on the yellow lower trail. We followed the trail and started the gentle climb through the woods which had five or six inches of new and unbroken snow. When we reached the next trail junction, we stayed to the right to follow the lower trail around the base of Round Top to the next junction. We stopped for a few minutes so that I could again photograph the pristine snow on the branches and on the trail. At the next junction we turned left and started up to the summit of Round Top on the steeper blue trail. The snowshoes definitely gave us good traction but the climb was not easy. We walked across the summit of Round Top and down the other side which is also a little steep. We were able to get some glide on the steeper part of the hill but found we kept hitting rocks and roots as the snow was not that deep. When we got to the yellow trail, we turned left to follow it to the second trail junction. This time we turned right and followed the yellow trail back to the very first trail junction to complete a figure 8. At the trail junction I persuaded Cindy to do another figure 8 so we turned around and retraced our steps taking the more gentle path this time. When the yellow trail turned left, we followed it to the next trail junction were we turned right and headed up the blue trail to the summit. We walked over the top and down the other side gliding where we could to the yellow trail again. We turned right and followed the trail along the base of Round Top. Where the yellow trail turned left, we continued to follow the trail to the left and down to the lookout. From the lookout we walked an glided down hill to the first trail junction. We continued straight out to the trailhead. Sheila did not seem to be bothered by the cold at all and had been well-behaved except for a few longer forays off the trail following animal tracks. At the trailhead, I put Sheila on her leash and we walked down the cemetery hill and across the field to our driveway. It was after 1:45 PM and we had hiked a little under 2 miles in an hour and 45 minutes. It must have been a good workout as I was tired.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon Frick and Hodge Ponds - Quick Lake and Flynn Trails AllTrails - Frick and Hodge Ponds - Quick Lake and Flynn Trails caltopo  icon Gmap4 - Frick and Hodge Ponds - Quick Lake and Flynn Trails MapMyHike - Frick and Hodge Ponds - Quick Lake and Flynn Trails On Monday, January 15th I had the day off for Martin Luther King Day and wanted to get in a longer hike after too many days of inactivity and hiking only on Round Top. I decided to go to Frick Pond and found that this would be the FIRST hike of the winter at someplace other than Round Top! My plan was to wait until the temperature was in the teens and then go to Frick Pond and hike the loop in a clockwise direction. At 7:00 AM it was still 8 degrees out so I delayed my departure until after 11:00 AM. After doing a few chores around the house, I began to get my gear together which made Sheila watch me very closely. Even though we had been out on Saturday, I think she had the idea that this would be a longer hike as I was getting my pack ready. When I was ready to leave the temperature was only in the high teens but the sun was shining. As I stepped outside I found the sun was negated by the presence of a stiff breeze. I had on a full baselayer under my Columbia Omniheat pants and a heavier Patagonia wool top. I wore my Mammut hoody and Salomon Nytro insulated boots. I also wore a heavier hat and gloves and packed a pair of mitts just in case. I put my Microspikes in my pack hoping I could walk around the ice patches rather than wear them the whole time. I got my gear and Shiela in the car and headed out the DeBruce Road. After 6 miles, at Mongaup Pond Road, I turned left and continued to follow the road bearing left onto Beech Mountain Road at the fork. When we arrived in the parking area there was one other car parked in the small lot. Sheila was acting as if she hadn't hiked in a month as she ran around and headed for the trail. The temperature was 18 degrees and the constant breeze blowing made it seem colder. I got my gear ready to go and set my GPS. The skies were blue with only a few white clouds and the sun was shining brightly as we headed out the path to the register on Quick Lake Trail at 11:40 AM. The Quick Lake Trail from the start was covered in thick ice! I should have given up immediately and put on my spikes but I stubbornly decided to walk on the side of the trail following some other foolish hikers. I made it to Gravestone Junction without too much trouble and we turned left to head down to Frick Pond. The water level in the pond was a little higher than it had been and there was a pretty solid looking sheet of ice over the whole pond. I had thought I would not stop to take pictures but I couldn't resist the blue sky and icy pond. After taking a few shots, I put the camera in the pack and we continued on the Quick Lake Trail around the pond bearing left at the next trail junction to stay on the red trail. This part of the trail was also very icy in most places and even the parts with less ice were tricky as a thin layer of snow hid the ice. It was hard to find a place to get good footing without stepping on ice or in some water or mud. We were setting a fast pace despite the slippery conditions and soon came to the "pine promenade" and the little stream through the woods. The water level in the stream was higher than it had been in some time and I had to walk upstream to cross without getting wet. I stopped to take a few pictures before we continued on the trail toward Iron Wheel Junction. I did remove a few loose sticks along the way but left a larger blowdown which would require a saw. Just before the junction there was a large branch and a pile of smaller ones on the trail. These branches had been hung up for some time and had finally come down in the strong winds. We arrived at Iron Wheel Junction at 1.6 miles.

picture taken during a hike We turned left on the Quick Lake Trail and started the long uphill climb toward Junkyard Junction. The trail continued to be icy from the heavy rains and quick freeze at the end of the week. There were signs that once again the hard rain had produced small streams that had run down the trail. We were headed for Junkyard Junction at 3.2 miles. With no one to talk to I was lost in my own thoughts as Sheila followed a few game trails. As we walked the clouds in the sky increased and the wind picked up a little. We turned right onto the blue Flynn Trail which is almost flat. It too was icy and wet in places. There were no major blowdowns but I continued to remove branches that littered the trail. When we got to the gate, we turned right to stay on the trail and head down toward Hodge Pond. At 3.75 miles the Flynn Trail heads right and I followed it toward the outlet end of Hodge Pond. I continued to be stubborn and refused to stop to put on my spikes even though there were vast expanses of ice all along the trail. The trail broke out into a field which we crossed and continued to follow the Flynn Trail toward the outlet of the pond. Just as the trail again Brooke out into the open field at the lower end of the pond, I noticed that the trees were covered in ice. The sunlight sparkled off the trees and I knew I needed some pictures. We walked through the clearing at the outlet end of the pond almost to the shore where I dropped my pack and got out my camera. I took shots of the pond with the blue skies an d clouds. Many of the trees around the pond were covered in ice and I tried to capture their beauty. Before packing up, I got out a bar and put it in an inner pocket to soften. I packed up and walked back to the Flynn Trail to the point where it re-enters the woods. The snow always drifts here and I could see several drifts. When I got to them, I was surprised since they were as hard as a rock. As we entered the woods, I looked back and saw the trees encased in ice and the blue pond. I couldn't resist a few more pictures. We started the climb up the hill and I was feeling quite fresh and concentrated on using my poles to help set a quick pace up the hill. At the top of the hill we stayed to the right to continue on the Flynn Trail. A left turn follows a woods road out to what remains of the Beech Mountain Boy Scout Camp. The Flynn Trail is relatively flat to the junction with the Big Rock Trail at 4.5 miles and there was less ice on this section. We continued straight through the junction with the Big Rock Trail to follow the Flynn Trail back to the car. I expected the walk back downhill to go quickly and that there would be less ice to contend with on this section of trail. I was wrong! In several places, the water had overflowed the "ditch" at the side of the trail or the watercourse was blocked by ice. The water found its way onto the trail and there were large sections that showed erosion. The water had frozen into large sheets of ice making the descent interesting. We walked as quickly as I could with Sheila leading the way. Sheila has built-in crampons and a nice warm coat. I was worried about her paws in the low temperatures but she did not seem bothered at all. As we approached the gate on the woods road, we turned left to avoid the private property around the cabin and to stay on the trail. This trail had also acted as a streambed during the heavy rains and was covered in ice for the first half. We finished our walk and were back at the car by 2:30 PM. We had covered 6.4 miles in 2 hours and 50 minutes with an elevation gain of 950 feet. It still seemed cold as the temperature was only 19 degrees with some wind.

map icon Round Top Lower Trail AllTrails - Round Top Lower Trail caltopo  icon Gmap4 - Round Top Lower Trail MapMyHike - Round Top Lower Trail On Saturday, January 13th I knew I had to get out after almost a week of ridiculous weather. The beginning of the week had been cold but by Friday the temperature was 58 degrees! The temperature dropped 40 degrees overnight and everything turned to ice with a coating of snow to make the sidewalk and roads even slipperier. I knew I couldn't go too far from home as the roads were still icy even at noon. I was still getting over a cold and did not want to overexert myself. Around 1:00 PM the temperature was in the low 20's and I asked Cindy if she wanted to go across the street to hike on Round Top. She agreed and we started to get ready. I decided on tights underneath my Columbia Omniheat pants and a heavier Patagonia wool top with a baselayer. Sheila seemed to agree that hiking was a good idea as she kept "hinting" that she wanted to go outside. I wore my Mammut Ultimate hoody and a pair of Salomon Nytro boots. Cindy decided to wear her Microspikes but I stubbornly went with bare boots. Sheila was happy to finally be outside as I put her on her leash to walk across the street at 1:35 PM. We walked through the field next to the church and walked up the steep but short cemetery hill with Sheila giving me a little help as she pulled me up the hill. The wind made it seem much colder than it was. We turned left and entered the trail where I released Sheila from her leash. I immediately noticed that it seemed much warmer out of the wind. At the first trail junction Sheila continued straight ahead up the steeper slope to the lookout and I followed her. At the lookout I caught a quick glimpse of town and everything looked a little bleak. We followed the lower yellow trail as it started toward Round Top. At the trail junction we continued straight ahead on the upper blue trail which goes over the summit of Round Top. I had to walk on the side of the trail since the part of the trail that was packed was now icy. Cindy had no problem as she had worn spikes. We walked over the summit and down the other side with me descending carefully on the icy trail. At the bottom of the hill we continued straight ahead on the lower yellow trail as it followed a woods road back to the first trail junction. We turned around and started back up the woods road following the yellow trail until we were at the junction with the upper blue trail. We continued straight ahead and over the summit of Round Top. The descent down the ether side was the most difficult part of the hike as the trail is steeper and negotiating the icy spots was more tricky. At the junction with the yellow trail we continued straight ahead and walked down to the lookout. We continued to follow the yellow trail and turned left at the lookout to walk down to the first trail junction. Cindy was ready to go home but Sheila and I wanted to stay out a little longer. As Cindy headed off to the trailhead, Sheila and I turned around and walked back up to the lookout and followed the yellow trail to the next junction. This time we turned to the right to follow the lower trail along the base of Round Top. At the next junction we turned right again and followed the lower trail back to the first junction. Once again we turned around and reversed the lower loop until we were once again deciding from the lookout to the first trail junction. This time we continued straight ahead and walked out to the trailhead. We walked down the cemetery hill with the sun shining brightly and the wind blowing. At the base of the hill I put Sheila on her leash and we walked back across the field next to the church to our driveway. We arrived back at the house just before 3:00 PM having spent 1 hour and 25 minutes walking a little less than 3 miles.

map icon Round Top Figure 8s AllTrails - Round Top Figure 8s caltopo  icon Gmap4 - Round Top Figure 8s MapMyHike - Round Top Figure 8s On Monday, January 8th I planned to finally get out on my first hike of 2018. It had been more than a week without a hike but with good reason. I had a cold AND the wind chill temperatures had been well below zero for many days in a row. In addition, Our ambulance corps had been responding to quite a few calls. Even though I had track practice in the afternoon, I planned to go to Frick Pond and get in a 6 mile hike since the temperature was in the high teens and climbing. I made my plans the night before and went to sleep thinking about hiking until phone call woke me up at 6:00 AM. Despite my plans I was needed as a substitute for the middle school nurse for two days! Its not what I wanted to do and I knew Sheila would be wondering why we weren't going out wanted to get out but there are very few people who can substitute for the nurse. I wasn't happy as I got dressed and headed off to school. The day went pretty quickly and some light snow began to fall after noon. An announcement was made indicating after school activities were canceled which I knew meant I could go home early. I began to think that I could get a quick hike in on Round Top before dark! I drove home arriving at about 3:30 PM and asked Cindy if she wanted to go. She has also had a cold but decided she wanted to get out in the "Warm" weather. As I got dressed I decided to forego a baselayer and to wear a lighter Mammut crew neck shirt under my Mammut Ultimate hoody. I wore a hat and a pair of gloves. I donned my Salomon Nytro boots but left the gaiters at home. Cindy and I decided that it had not snowed enough to wear snowshoes but that MicroSpikes would be a good idea. Sheila would not leave my side as I was getting ready as she wanted to make sure she was going too! We stepped out onto the back porch, put on our spikes and headed out the slippery driveway at 3:45 AM. The temperature was 23 degrees as we crossed the street with Sheila on her leash and walked to the back of the church. We began the ascent of the steepest hill behind the church. The hill is short but really gets the circulation pumping and is the steepest and longest climb on the "trail". Sheila helped me along by pulling me up the hill. When we got to the top of the hill, we started out on the trail by turning left at the trailhead. As soon as we entered the trees I released Sheila from her leash. At the first trail junction we continued straight ahead to walk the steeper path to the viewpoint. At the lookout we turned to the right and we continued our hike on the yellow lower trail.

We followed the trail and started the gentle climb through the woods which had four or five inches of new and unbroken snow. When we reached the next trail junction, we stayed to the right to follow the lower trail around the base of Round Top to the next junction. At this junction we turned left and started up to the summit of Round Top on the steeper blue trail. The spikes definitely made the going easier although they are better suited for ice or firmly packed snow. We walked across the summit of Round Top and down the other side which is also a little steep. Again, the spikes helped in the descent but I was still able to get a little glide. When we got to the yellow trail, we turned left to follow it to the second trail junction. This time we turned right and followed the yellow trail back to the very first trail junction to complete a figure 8. At the trail junction Cindy decided to go home as the cool air was bothering her cold. Sheila and I turned around and retraced our steps taking the more gentle path this time. When the yellow trail turned left, we followed it to the next trail junction were we turned right and headed up the blue trail to the summit. We walked over the top and down the other side to the yellow trail again. It was beginning to get very dark as we turned right and followed the trail along the base of Round Top. Where the yellow trail turned left, we continued to follow the trail to the left and down to the lookout. From the lookout we walked down hill to the first trail junction. We continued straight out to the trailhead. I was a little depressed to think that the 40+ degree weather later in the week would eliminate all the beautiful snow! Sheila did not seem to be bothered by the cold at all and had been well-behaved staying with me most of the time. At the trailhead, I put Sheila on her leash and we walked down the cemetery hill and across the field to our driveway. It was after 5:00 PM and we had hiked a little under 2 miles in 1 hour and 15 minutes. It must have been a good workout as I was tired after so many days without an activity.

map icon Round Top Lower Trail AllTrails - Round Top Lower Trail caltopo  icon Gmap4 - Round Top Lower Trail MapMyHike - Round Top Lower Trail On Friday, December 29th the temperature when I got up at 6:30 AM was 4 degrees with a breeze making the wind-chill well below zero. This had been true for several days in a row and I was tired of staying inside. Sheila seemed to agree with me as she kept "hinting" that she wanted to go outside. I decided to wait a little hoping that the temperature might rise. By 11:30 the temperature did rise to about 10 degrees! I would take Sheila and go across the street to hike on Round Top. I am getting bored hiking there but it gave us the best opportunity to hike close to home and to come home if it was too cold. I put on a full baselayer under my Columbia Omniheat pants and a heavier Patagonia wool top. I wore my Mammut Ultimate hoody and a pair of Salomon Nytro boots with Microspikes. Sheila was happy to finally et outside as I put her on her leash to walk across the street at 11:50 AM. We walked through the field next to the church and walked up the steep but short cemetery hill with Sheila giving me a little help as she pulled me up the hill. We turned left and entered the trail where I released Sheila from her leash. At the first trail junction Sheila turned right to head up the more gentle slope and I followed her. Where the trail split at the next junction I followed Sheila as she went straight up the hill on the blue trail toward the summit of Round Top. I was surprised that I was not very cold and was actually starting to sweat as we climbed the short but steep hill to the summit. We crossed over the top and started down the other side. I was glad I had on the Microspikes as it was steep and slippery as this side is out of the sun. I also noticed a slight breeze was making my exposed face cold. As I inhaled, I noticed that the air was very cold as my chest was cool. At the trail junction we continued straight ahead on the yellow trail toward the viewpoint. At the viewpoint we turned left and walked down the hill back to the first trail junction. We immediately turned around and started back up the hill. Sheila was very eager and bounded ahead of me. This time we repeated the big loop we had just done but in reverse. As always we needed up back at the first trail junction. We again turned around and walked back up the more gentle slope toward the junction with the upper blue trail. At this junction we turned left on the lower yellow trail to execute a small loop. We continued to follow the yellow trail along the base of Round Top and down to the viewpoint. After turning left and walking downhill, we were back at the first trail junction. We turned around for one last time and walked a small loop in reverse. This time when we arrived at the first trail junction, we turned left and walked out to the trailhead. We walked down the cemetery hill with the sun shining brightly. At the base of the hill I put Sheila on her leash and we walked back across the field next to the church to our driveway. We arrived back at the house at 1:10 PM having spent 1 hour and 20 minutes walking a little less than 3 miles.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon Round Top Figure 8s AllTrails - Round Top Figure 8s caltopo  icon Gmap4 - Round Top Figure 8s MapMyHike - Round Top Figure 8s On Tuesday, December 26th I wanted to get out to hike vu the temperature was 14 degrees at 11:00 AM with a breeze blowing dropping the wind-chill to the single digits. I didn't know how Sheila would fare so I decided to go across the street to hike on Round Top. I knew we could get there and back quickly and could lengthen or shorten our hike easily. Cindy decided she would go along despite the cold so we started to get dressed. I put on a baselayer and decided to wear a heavier Patagonia wool top underneath my Mammut Ultimate hoody. I also took a heavier hat and wore a pair of warm mitts. I donned my Salomon Nytro boots and wore high gaiters. Cindy and i decided that it had not snowed enough to wear snowshoes but that MicroSPikes would be a good idea. Sheila would not leave my side as I was getting ready as she wanted to make sure she was going too!. I decided to take my pack along as a way to carry my camera. We stepped out onto the back porch, put on our spikes and headed out the slippery driveway at 11:15 AM. We crossed the street with Sheila on her leash and walked to the back of the church. We began the ascent of the steepest hill behind the church. The hill is short but really gets the circulation pumping and is the steepest and longest climb on the "trail". Sheila helped me along by pulling me up the hill. When we got to the top of the hill, I paused to take a few pictures of the town covered in snow. We started out on the trail by turning left at the trailhead. As soon as we entered the trees I released Sheila from her leash. At the first trail junction we continued straight ahead to walk the steeper path to the viewpoint. At the lookout I turned to the left on the spur trail and walked out to the lower viewpoint that has the best view of the school. I took several pictures including a couple of Cindy and Sheila on the upper lookout. I walked up to the upper lookout and we continued our hike on the yellow lower trail.

picture taken during a hike We followed the trail and started the gentle climb through the woods which had two or three inches of new and unbroken snow. When we reached the next trail junction, we stayed to the right to follow the lower trail around the base of Round Top to the next junction. At this junction we turned left and started up to the summit of Round Top on the steeper blue trail. The spikes definitely made the going easier although they are better suited for ice or firmly packed snow. We walked across the summit of Round Top and down the other side which is also a little steep. Again, the spikes helped in the descent which had been very icy on my previous trip. When we got to the yellow trail, we turned left to follow it to the second trail junction. This time we turned right and followed the yellow trail back to the very first trail junction to complete a figure 8. At the trail junction we turned around and retraced our steps taking the more gentle path this time. When the yellow trail turned left, we followed it to the next trail junction were we turned right and headed up the blue trail to the summit. We walked over the top and down the other side to the yellow trail again. We turned right and followed the trail along the base of Round Top. Where the yellow trail turned left, I stopped to take a few shots of the trails in all directions. We continued to follow the trail to the left and down to the lookout. From the lookout we walked down hill to the first trail junction. Cindy was tired at this point and I was a little bored so we continued straight out to the trailhead. Sheila did not seem to be bothered by the cold at all and had been well-behaved staying with me most of the time. At the trailhead, I put Sheila on her leash and we walked down the cemetery hill and across the field to our driveway. It was 12:30 PM and we had hiked a little over 2 miles in 1 hour and 15 minutes. It must have been a good workout as I was tired.

map icon Round Top Figure 8s AllTrails - Round Top Figure 8s caltopo  icon Gmap4 - Round Top Figure 8s MapMyHike - Round Top Figure 8s On Sunday, December 24th I knew I needed to get out after several days of substituting for the school nurse and some horrendous weather. In addition, the forecast for the coming week included snow and then temperatures with highs in the teens! After returning from church, Cindy decided to meet some of her family for lunch so I decided to simply head across the street to Round Top and do some figure 8's just for the exercise. This would be the first hike of the winter season and also a hike on Christmas Eve day. When we started down the driveway at 1:10 PM the temperature was in the high 30's which almost seemed warm. I did not put on a baselayer top or bottom but did take a hat and a pair of light gloves. Sheila was so happy to get out she kept winning and barking at me as I put her on her leash to walk down the driveway and across the street. We crossed the street with Sheila on her leash and walked to the back of the church. We began the ascent of the steepest hill behind the church. The hill is short but really gets the circulation pumping and is the steepest and longest climb on the "trail". Sheila helped me along by pulling me up the hill. When we got to the top of the hill, we started out on the trail by turning left at the trailhead. As soon as we entered the trees I released Sheila from her leash. At the first trail junction Sheila turned right so i followed her to start up the more gradual side of the hill. At the next junction Sheila continued straight ahead on the blue trail to the top of the hill so I again followed her toward the summit. I was surprised that there was still some snow on the trail. We had rain for most of Saturday but the temperatures were just above freezing so some of the snow did not melt. we walked over the top of the hill which did not have much shoe and then down the other side. The descent is the steepest on the trail and it was covered in snow and was a little tricky to negotiate. I was disappointed to find many ATV tracks criss-crossing the hiking trail. People developed the habit of going wherever they want without permission and breaking that bad habit may be almost impossible. At the next trail junction at the bottom of the hill we continued straight ahead on the yellow trail to walk down to the lookout. There was a good view of town but I had seen it before and did not linger. We continued down the hill to the first trail junction. Wee immediately turned around and walked back up the hill to walk the same route but in reverse. Climbing the steeper section of the trail seemed easier than descending it. Once we were again at the first trail junction we turned around and started back up the more gentle slope. This time we did a figure 8 by turning left at the next trail junctions and taking the lower yellow trail along the base of Round Top. At the next junction we trend right and took the blue trail up to the top and back down to the yellow trail. We turned right and followed the yellow trail back to the viewpoint and back down to the first trail junction. When we reached the starting point, we turned around and did another Figure 8 by reversing the route we had just completed. When we finally were back at the first trail junction we turned left and walked back out to the trailhead. I put Sheila on her leash as we turned right and walk back down to the church and across the field to our driveway. We were back at the house at 2:45 PM after hiking 3.1 miles in 1.5 hours with a vertical gain of 1080 feet.