Ice, ice baby! Not the song, but what we found on the trails. After doing a short trip up to Cantilever Rock on Tuesday and encountering ice all the way up the state park road from the winter parking area and in many spots on the trail, I required all participants have spikes or other real traction devices with points (not Yaktrax!). And although I almost never wear spikes, I did so for this entire trip (people who’ve done winter hiking with me know what that means). We met at the Underhill Center park and ride at 9 AM and took three cars up to the winter parking area (Jim had a 3:30 deadline for getting down, so brought his own car). We got the last spots in the pullout area, but the road had been sanded a little way further, and I’d seen that some folks had been parking by the side of the road in that area. I mentioned this to folks who came in right behind us, and they headed up.
After getting on packs and spikes we started up at 9:30 in a brief snow squall. The skies were overcast and stayed that way the whole hike. As we passed the end of the sanded section of road we saw the folks I’d spoke to had driven too far and were in the ditch on the side of the higher icy section. A few of us helped push their car back onto the road, and I waved back another car that was about to repeat the same mistake.
After this pre-hike work out we headed up the road and Eagle’s Cut Trail to reach the Sunset Ridge trailhead around 10:30. We played leapfrog with our car-in-the-ditch friends on the way up to the summit. The trails were a little less icy than the road, but only a little. This would have been impossible without spikes. This was a very strong and fast group, and I was struggling not to hold them back, but we all made it to the summit around 12:30. No views, as we were in the clouds. It was cold, but not frigid, and the wind was strong, increasing to the point where it was a little difficult to stand as we crossed the ridge. At about 1:30 we reached the top of the Upper Teardrop ski trail, which was a lot easier to spot then some of us remember. I’d never taken it, but based on Tracy’s recommendation, and in light of Jim’s deadline, we decided to take it down instead of continuing to the forehead and taking Maple Ridge as planned. The surface was rock hard so there was no danger of us messing up any ski tracks. We made great time going down, reaching the CCC road around 2:20, and getting back to the cars around 3:00, leaving time for Jim to join us in some snacks and unwinding before we all drove back down. A great day with a great group!
Participants: Jill George, Robynn Albert, Tracy Sweeney, Mark McLane, Jim Watkins, David Hathaway (leader).