Strange month for outdoor activities…we have had temperatures swing from 65 degrees (f), down to 15 below zero, and everything in between. We have hiked on ice, rocks, bare ground, frozen crust ,and deep snow. We have gone up some steeps, and hiked the flats of lakeside trails. We have enjoyed bright sun and blue skies, but have also tolerated thick fog and cold,windy grey days. Conditions have severely restricted our skijor and kicksled efforts, since our usual skiing trails have been decimated by the variable weather.
We have managed to try out a few new trails, some quite close to us, and others a bit more distant. We still have our favorite “go to” trails, but it is nice to get out and give us, and the dogs,a bit of variety.
Each winter, we take a short winter trip, usually to either western Maine or the Adirondacks, seeking a change of pace, and a chance to snowshoe, skijor, or kicksled in a different part of the northeast. This trip is always in early March, based upon our Vermont Town Meeting Day holiday. This year our trip to Old Forge, NY had multiple purposes…yes, we wanted to snowshoe and skijor, but also wanted to stop by Mountainman Outdoor Supply, to check on the status of our SylvanSport GO trailer. The trailer was ordered last fall, and we had an anticipated delivery date of April.
Of course, the weather took a downward spiral in the weeks preceding our visit, so we were not sure what to expect for conditions. We knew there had been a bit of snow loss, but given projected temperatures , we thought we could get in a bit of skijoring. Well, the skijoring did not happen. The warm temperatures, rain,fog, and wind sucked the trails dry…If we had gone skiing the day of our arrival, we would have been okay. But we had decided to take advantage of the 2o degree temperatures, and bright blue sky, to hike up a small mountain outside town. Bald Mountain ( Rondaxe) is a nice hike…we thought it would be good to stretch the dogs legs after 5 hours in the car. So we started out early afternoon, a very late start for us.Thankfully, there were only a few cars in the parking lot.
This was definitely a hike for our MicroSpikes! Hard, firm, crusty snow, with occasional swaths of sheer grey ice ( on the steeper pitches, of course) made the hike a bit more challenging than it may normally be. I only got stuck on the ice once, but managed , with help, to get over to the side, and get a foothold on some crust. The dogs did fine, and helped pull us up a few small pitches! I certainly would not have wanted to attempt this hike without spikes…however, we ran into a few groups of young adults, who, in their sneakers and smooth soled boots were slipping and sliding their way along the trail. We saw a few wipe-outs, but thankfully, did not have to render first aid.
The trail culminated in a nice rocky summit, approached by hiking along some fun knife-edges….we did not go up the fire tower at the summit, but enjoyed the spectacular views from terra firma!
As we were heading down, in one of the shaded, wooded areas of trail, I saw a few folks approach from below. We stepped off the trail to let them pass, and the woman called me by name…somehow, I recognized that this was Amy from the great blog Its More Fun Outdoors ! She called out “Vermont Paddle Pups!”, and we had a lovely meet and greet on the trail. We have used their blog as a resource for activity ideas in the Adirondacks, and they have followed our blog and facebook page. What a coincidence we meet on this day…and now we have met two more of our social media friends! Be sure to check out their blog for their trip report (www.itsmorefunoutdoors.com)
The day after our great hike up Bald Mt, the skies were grey, and it was a bit windy and warmer. We decided a nice flat hike would be in order, so we selected a hike to a lake and cascade that was also in the Old Forge area. Our targeted destination of Cascade Falls was not attained….after 90 minutes of hiking on a trail that was marked by many downed trees and branches, and lots of frozen and very slippery stream beds, we opted to call it a day. (Our spikes were clumping, bare boots slipped , so I even used snowshoes for part of the trail, to get some traction.)We thought about then going skijoring , but decided we would leave that for day 3. Unfortunately, the rain and wind came in force that night, so as mentioned, the trails were stripped by day 3.
So what else did we do in Old Forge? Well, our favorite pancake house was closed mid-week, so we had to find another local diner…very good, and we certainly would return again. We explored many of the lakes of the Northern Forest Canoe Trail, some frozen over, and others with a lot of open water visible.
We did get to Mountainman Outdoor Supply, and found out that our GO should be arriving soon..we anticipate coming back to NY in April to pick it up,and give it an overnight test at a local campground in Old Forge. We enjoyed checking out the inventory of boats and gear…certainly a place we enjoy visiting!
We headed back on a drizzly grey day. My birding efforts in NY had proven mostly futile, but we stopped at Crown Point NY, and in the Dead Creek area of VT, and were able to get some good sightings.
It really looked like our winter had fizzled to an end, as we returned to mostly bare ground, and only a hint of possible snow flurries in the forecast. We have been working on our presentations for the upcoming New England Paddlesports Show, and our annual ocean visit. Little did we know! Mother Nature has walloped us with record snows this week…more to come on that, once we dig out! We are actually heading off for some cabin camping this week, at Wheeler Pond Camps in the Northeast Kingdom. We feel pretty confident we will have some amazing snowshoing conditions!
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