10 participants. Six of us met at the Essex Park and Ride, and 4 joined us at the trailhead on Route 118. The forecast was for highs in the 20s on the mountain, a welcome relief from some of the earlier ice and cold. We debated at the trailhead about bringing snowshoes, and ended up deciding to leave them in the cars, which turned out to be a marginal decision. We all wore some version of microspikes, either Kotoola or Hillsound.

There was a bit more soft snow on the ice than we expected, maybe 5”, but someone on snowshoes had been ahead of us. Those tracks, however, disappeared after about ½ mile. The lack of snowshoes made our feet lighter, but breaking trail provided a small chore for the first people. ‘In the old days’, it was a tradition to wander ‘lost in the wilderness’ for an hour on Belvedere winter hikes, until eventually reaching the ridgeline and getting sorted out.

About 4 years ago, however, illegal spray painted red blobs appeared on trees, and did make winter travel easier. These are now a dull orange, but still visible, so there were very few short lost periods. We stayed pretty much on track, and reached the top in about 2 hours 45 minutes. We grabbed a quick lunch or snack, and left in less than 15 minutes because of the wind. The trip down was totally straightforward, since we now had a tramped trail. We reached the cars in about 1 ½ hours from the summit, and all were home in time to watch the kickoff for the NFL playoff games that day.

Participants – Sheri Larsen, Chuck Bond, Judy Bond, Peggy Faucher, Marc Faucher, Fred Royce, Scott Springer, Wes Volk, Tracy Sweeney, and Richard Larsen, who was alleged to be the leader of this gang.