I got a lot of interest for this trip, and needed to turn several people away in an effort to keep the group size reasonable (but I’m leading it again on January 11). We met at the Underhill Center park & ride at 8:30, took 4 cars up to the Stevensville Road trailhead, and were on the trail by about 8:50. It was in the low teens as we started and the sun was out. We lost the sun as the day progressed but it warmed up to the 30s by the end of the trip. There had only been a couple of inches of snow when I’d done a preview hike five days earlier, but we’d gotten over a foot of fluffy snow in the meantime, so many people opted for snowshoes, with most others wearing microspikes.

We passed a couple blowdowns low on the Nebraska Notch trail (John Sharp brought the section chainsaw so I can go out and clear them later this week or next), and reached the Long Trail junction around 9:50. Heading north on the Long Trail, we passed a few more blowdowns, and reached the Twin Brooks tenting area around 11:15. One person’s snowshoes weren’t giving a lot of traction on some of the steeper sections, and they took a slide as we descended to one of the brooks.

Given that they were getting quite tired and the trail only gets steeper after Twin Brooks, we decided that today wasn’t a good day for them to continue to Butler Lodge, so I went down the ski trail with them while Phil and John led the rest of the group on up to Butler Lodge. Meanwhile I got a ride back down to my car at the park & ride and drove back to the trailhead (the lot was pretty full, so I had to park halfway in a snowbank). I headed up Butler Lodge trail to meet the rest of the group coming down, and we all ended up back at the trailhead around 2 PM.

Many thanks to Phil and John for leading the rest of the trip. Safety of all trip participants always has to be the top priority, and you can’t send someone down a trail they don’t know alone. Without an experienced leader who knew the rest of the planned route, we would have all had to bail out after Twin Brooks.

Participants: Tess Stimson, Bamby Pierpont, Birgit Bozek, Crystal Valente, Dale Schmit, Deborah Kulisch, Tom Mowatt, Allison Kennedy, Phil Hazen (co-leader), John Sharp (co-leader), David Hathaway (leader). Photos: Tom, John, Tess, David.