After meeting at 8:30 at the Richmond commuter lot, we took three cars (one with dog, two without) to the winter parking lot at the Couching Lion Farm site, and started up the Monroe Trail around 9:15. Given the freezing temperatures that day and the recent warm weather and rain, all but David opted to leave snowshoes behind (and he carried but never used them). Many (but not all) were using crampons.

Up to about the Alpine Trail intersection the snow had a significant ice crust, but not so icy as to prevent traction. Near the top there were some icy patches, but always interspersed with crusty patches, so the hike was quite doable without crampons. With his lighter weight, Bailey (the dog) slid around on the crust a lot, but seemed to enjoy it. We reached the hut clearing around 12:30 and had lunch and summited in shifts; Marc and Peggy went up first and then came down to eat, while the rest of us ate first and then went up. There were at least three other groups passing through the hut clearing on their way up or down while we were there.

Rich was wearing his bear hat (doesn’t that mean he should be hibernating now?), which got its share of comments from the other parties, and a very curious stare from Bailey when Rich set it down on the summit . The recent rains had left an interesting ice layer over many of the rocks and trees at the top, and it was a little cold and windy, but very nice for a January day atop a Vermont 4000 foot peak. We then retraced our steps, reaching the parking area around 3:15.

Participants – Marc and Peggy Faucher, Jerry Lasky and Cilla Kimberly, Rich and Sheri Larsen, David Hathaway – and Bailey Greene, the dog.