Since it looked like there would only be two of us on the hike, Robynn planned to meet David at his house in Underhill at 8:30. Joan sent a last minute email the morning of the hike asking if she could come along, and after a brief phone conversation with David, she decided to try to meet at the trailhead, or if she got there late (as seemed likely), to try to catch up on the trail. Meanwhile, David and Robynn drove to the trailhead and started up at about 9:40. The weather was partly sunny and warm (in the 40s and 50s F), and the snow from the previous week was melting, making trails very wet and muddy. It was much more like spring than late fall hiking.
We left one of the GMC orange vests at the car for Joan to use (this was, after all, the last day of rifle season for deer hunters), and to indicate to her that she was in the right place. We left an arrow of sticks pointing to Tillotson and the Frank Post Trail at its junction with the Foresters Trail, and generally took a relatively lesiurely pace on the way up.
At Tillotson Camp David and Robynn stopped for lunch. The plan was to leave a note for Joan in the register at the camp indicating that we were heading up to Tillotson Peak, and would then come back by the camp and hope to meet Joan there or along the way. But Joan had been racing up the trail behind us, and just when we were about to start out again at 11:00, she appeared at the camp. After giving her a chance to rest a little, we continued up to Tillotson Peak, with David pointing out several of the concealed mud holes along the trail by stepping in them. We took a group photo at the top of Tillotson, then headed back south along the Long Trail, passing Tillotson Camp and continuing on to Belvidere. We saw bear, moose, deer, and maybe bobcat tracks in several places along the way, but never saw the actual animals.
When we reached Belvidere the wind had picked up and the summit was pretty much in the clouds, so although Robynn and David climbed the fire tower, there were no views to be had. We then headed down the Foresters trail, quickly getting out of the little bit of snow we’d been in at the top (never more than about 4 inches) and into the mud again. We again saw very fresh moose droppings, but no moose. We got back to the cars around 4:10.
Participants, Robynn Albert, Joan Hoffmann, David Hathaway trip leader