Seven of us met at 8 AM the Underhill Center lot next to the Underhill historical Society and took two cars up to the winter parking area on the state park road. It was pretty full, but we found a couple of spots to park and started up the road around 8:30. The road was packed, so we didn’t need snowshoes to start, and the temps were in the teens F with overcast skies. The recent windstorms had toppled the big sign at the far end of the main parking area, uprooting the concrete encased posts, but we didn’t see many downed trees on the trails. We reached the Sunset Ridge trailhead around 9:30, after which the CCC road became less solidly packed, so we continued on snowshoes to reach the start of Maple Ridge around 10:15. Someone had postholed up Maple Ridge, making the trail less pleasant to walk on up to around the Frost junction. Anyone reading this, please, bring snowshoes on your winter hikes, and use them when you start postholing! Not doing so not only increases the risk to you (of getting tired or stuck), but really messes up the trail for others. Anyway, somewhere around the Rock Garden junction we gradually started to emerge from the cloud deck into mostly blue skies. For much of our ridge walk we were looking down over the tops of the cloud deck, with a few peaks like Dewey, Bolton, and Camels Hump sticking through. We were concerned about ice at high elevations from recent social media posts, but there had been enough snow since the ice that we had no problem with traction. A lot of trees were solidly encased in snow covered ice, bending and breaking many, and making brushing by them feel like walking by a rocky outcrop. Winds were still light and the trail was pretty easy to follow (not always true of Maple Ridge in winter), and we didn’t need to add wind layers until we reached the forehead around 12:15. As usual, we got a little lost trying to follow the LT from the forehead and ended up on the Upper Teardrop ski trail, following it to the LT. Near the LT / Forehead bypass junction there were a number of blowdowns confusing the trail. On the access road the groomer appeared to have shredded many of the trees that had been bent over the road by the ice. We didn’t even try to follow the short section of LT between the access road and the visitor center, as the trees in there looked pretty impassable. The ridge was windy, but not exceptionally so, and we passed several people going the other way along it (one group had come up Hell Brook). We reached the summit around 2 and met a group of 10 to 15 members of the UVM Outing Club, who I thanked for the work they’ve done for us in the past carrying in roofing material for Puffer and decking for Taft. We headed down Sunset Ridge, seeing several other people (unusual for a winter hike). In a few places I tried a cheap roll up plastic sled I’d gotten at OGE (even though I far exceeded the stated 100 lb. weight limit!). It had zero steering control, so I only used it in a few straight stretches that weren’t too steep. I thought it might work better on the CCC road, but that was too flat to get going. I think the others were amused watching me try. We reached the cars around 4:15. All agreed it was a great day for a winter hike. Participants: Julie Cimonetti, Jill George, Rich Douglass, Jonna Tufts, Thomas Nuovo, Liana Edwards, David Hathaway (leader). Photos: David & Rich.