The weather reports were a bit iffy, with precipitation likely and sleet possible, but it looked like it would turn to snow as we ascended so we went ahead (with a substitute leader, since the scheduled leader wasn’t able to go). It was raining when David, Wes, and Gary met at the Richmond Park & Ride at 9 and when we picked up Judy in Richmond Village, but as we approached the road up from the Winooski River to the Duxbury trailhead it turned to snow. Roads were a bit slick so we drove slow. The snow had finally closed the summer parking area so we parked in the winter lot.
Given the continued sparsity of snow and experience on Camels Hump a week earlier we opted to leave snowshoes in the car, but all of us donned microspikes as we started out. Skies were overcast and the temperature was hovering around freezing with light intermittent snow as we started up about 9:45. The trail was packed with a light layer of snow over a solid frozen base (pretty uneven and bumpy in the upper stretches with frozen footprints of previous hikers) so snowshoes were definitely not needed. But the snow was wet and sticky so the microspikes were a questionable choice, as the snow tended to ball up under them.
We got a bit spread out on the way up, with the “leader” lagging behind. Judy opted stop at the hut clearing and not summit, and Wes and Gary summited first just after noon, with David a few minutes behind. There was almost no wind almost the whole way up and down, including at the hut clearing, but it picked up considerably at the very summit. We had also hiked up into the clouds around the hut clearing, and they descended with us so we remained in fog until we got back down to the Dean trail junction.
We stopped briefly at the hut clearing on the way down for a snack, then headed down pretty quickly, reaching the car around 1:45.
Paricipants: Gary Kupperblatt, Judy Harvey, Wes Volk, David Hathaway (substitute leader).