There were three, then two, then one, who had contacted me (the substitute leader) about the trip, and about an hour before the scheduled meeting time, the last one cancelled. But since I was all packed and ready, I headed up anyway. I reached the trailhead on VT 118 around 9:40 and headed out on the Babcock Trail extension.

I’d never hiked that trail before, and missed a turn where it leaves a road, so I wandered the wrong way down 118 a ways before backtracking and finding where the trail crossed it and turned into Babcock Trail. From there on route finding was easy. There was fresh snow, still falling, but the trail was still very wet. There were some downed branches small enough for me to move, but it still needs some drainage work. After passing Big Muddy Pond, I reached the four way intersection of BabcockTrail, Long Trail north and south, and an unmarked trail that seemed to head down to Ritterbush Pond around 11 AM. I followed that a ways and found an old “Babcock Loop Trail” sign that I think is a spur off the old Long Trail, since I seem to recall it going on the other side of Ritterbush Pond when I hiked it in 1996.

Returning to the intersection, I headed south on the LT through Devil’s Gulch, which had snow but no ice on the rocks. From the tracks, one other person had been through that day. I had lunch at Spruce Ledge Camp around noon, then headed back north on the LT, reaching the car around 1:30.

Substitute trip leader and sole participant: David Hathaway.