12/29/2019 – Mt. Abe
After gathering at various collection points for some carpooling, 13 of us assembled at the Battell Trail trailhead. Parking was tight, but all managed to find places to squeeze in off the road. We started up the trail around 9:50, all but one of us in spikes. The day was pretty perfect for hiking: 20s, mostly sunny, very favorable trail conditions (just enough snow, not much ice). The group got fairly spread out, but the trail was packed and easy to follow, and everyone made the left turn onto the Long Trail, past the Battell Shelter, and on up to the summit, the last of us reaching the top around noon. After a quick snack and taking in the lovely views, we headed down in two groups. Everyone successfully navigated the steep, somewhat icy sections, and all were back down at the trailhead by 1:30. Participants: Deborah, Dale, Tom, Tess, Henry, Becca, Bamby, Allison, Juan, Phil, Robynn, Dave, Jill (trip leader). Photos: Dave Hathaway and Jill George.

12/17/2019 – Trail work on Nebraska Notch & LT
An impromptu trip to clear some blowdowns we’d seen on our 12/8 trip. John Sharp had left one of the section chainsaws and packs with me after that trip, and today I got around to using them. It was snowing lightly as I started up around 10:30. I cleared a pair of adjacent blowdowns low on Nebraska Notch, and a couple more on the Long Trail, a little ways north of the NN / LT junction. There’s another really big one a bit farther up, but it’s plenty high to walk under, and I see no way to safely remove it without a lot of rigging. I did remove some branches sticking down from it that were blocking the trail. I got a couple of other minor ones that didn’t really need to be removed, but I had the chainsaw, so… I headed down the ski trails (no tracks) from the junction just north of Twin Brooks, where I encountered more ice than I had on either of the trails, reaching the car around 2:30.

Low on Nebraska Notch Trail (before)

Low on Nebraska Notch Trail (after)

A little north of NN / LT junction (before)

A little north of NN / LT junction (after)

High blowdown on LT (before)

High blowdown on LT (after)

12/8/2019 – Butler Lodge via Nebraska Notch
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.