2/29/2020 – Leap Day Hike to Spruce Ledge Camp
Well, this trip didn’t go exactly as planned. With three days of off-and-on snow, there was about a foot of soft powder over a 2-inch crust with another foot of snow below that. And there had been no other hikers on the trail before us. The trail was beautiful, but breaking trail was a lot of hard work. So we decided to skip the hike through Devil’s Gulch up to Spruce Ledge and instead made a loop from the Long Trail to the Babcock Trail and back out to Route 118. It was a very congenial group and people mostly seemed to have a great time. Though I think we were all exhausted when we got home. I know I was! Participants: Dana Baron (leader), Barbara Mackay, Steve Titcomb, Paige Collier, Fred Royce, and Becca Percy.2/22/2020 – Mansfield via Halfway House
People met in Essex and Underhill Center, consolidated into two cars, and reached the winter parking area around 9.  It was cold but not frigid, with overcast skies as we started up. The road, Eagles Cut, and the CCC road were packed out, so we weren’t all in snowshoes until we reached the Halfway House turn around 10:20. Halfway house at the bottom was packed under some recent snows, but as we neared the top we were taking turns breaking (and finding) trail, and ducking under many heavily snow-laden branches. The temperature wasn’t particularly cold for winter, but the wind was fierce as we gained the ridge around noon. Three of us, including the trip leader, had been pretty much done in by the climb, and decided to head back down Halfway House instead of going for the summit. The other six headed north on the LT, reaching the summit around 1. After briefly enjoying the views under the cloud deck, the summit group headed down Sunset Ridge. At the register they saw that the first three had already signed out, and we all met up back at the cars around 3:10. Participants: Dale Schmit, Ted Albers, Steve Titcomb, Jill George, Marcus Keely,  Michaela Wentz, Kevin Burke, David Hathaway, Wes Volk (leader).

2/15/2020 – Rooster Comb, Hedgehog, & Lower Wolf Jaw, ADKs
As has been the case the last few Adk. outings, some folks sign up way in advance and others a few days before. Makes no matter to me, I am just happy others want to head across the pond to my old stomping grounds! Most of us met at the Shaw’s parking lot on the Shelburne Road then headed to Shelburne to pick up Ted, with a brief pit stop at the Stewart’s in Port Henry before we met the last of our group, Richard, at the Rooster Comb trail head on Route 73, Keene Valley. Geared up, signed in, intros and this trip leader announced it was “February 15 Trivia Day” meaning candy would be offered up as the prize for answering correctly questions about this date in history, whether 50, 200 or perhaps thousands of years ago!

Rooster Comb here we come! Everyone wore spikes to start. Mark, in his usual very strong pace, led the pack and once we all hit the intersection with Hedgehog, he asked if we wanted to go to the lookout first or the summit…the lookout won out and of course, did not disappoint. NO wind and perfect views. We hung around for a few minutes, then made our way over to its summit. There was a little wind storm whipping up off Haystack which was really neat to see. And Giant was, well, Giant, in all its glory! Hung around our first peak of 3, looked at maps, took pics, more trivia, then back down to the intersection where we all swapped out the spikes for the shoes. Hedgehog was broken out but not much.

If you’ve been on this trifecta of trails, you know there is a lot of up and down…repeat a LOT of UP and DOWN! Not complaining one bit but this trail network is “all there”. The sky got bluer, the snow deeper and whiter and when we hit the view-less Hedgehog summit, still no wind. Onto our final (kinda as we needed to hit Hedgehog coming back one more time!) summit and the only one of the 3 that’s a 46. Lower Wolf Jaw was Dale’s first 46 and Kevin and Marcus’ 3rd or 4th but their 1st winter 46. And Richard and Mark combined likely made this their 500th Adk. summit! We hit it at 2:30 pm and the sky did not disappoint but the winds had suddenly kicked up. The descent (and ascent) back down to the trailhead was a long one. Most were back at the intersection of RC and HH by 4:30 pm (and some well before this) so there was no way we were going to make 2 miles in 30 minutes to hit our 5 pm reservation I’d made at The Ausable Inn mid-week. Called them and cancelled which they were grateful. Once we were all back at the trailhead (around 5:40 pm), we headed to Baxter Mtn. Tavern since the trip leader was 100% sure there would be no problem whatsoever in walking right in. Uh huh…that didn’t pan out well, as there was a 2 hour wait. Onto Plan C, which was to head back to VT and stop at the first place that was open for casual pub food but this meant that Richard who’d driven up from Jersey the day before and planned to stay in Keene Valley would not join us. We were sorry to be missing one of the group. The Bridge Restaurant in Addison, just over the Crown Point Bridge on the VT side, welcomed us with open arms with 22 minutes before their closing time…we were so relieved! Helen, our server, and Isaac, our cook, had us in and out in less than an hour, maybe even 45 minutes.

A truly perfect day! And if you’re interested in a few important Feb. 15 facts, here you go!

Participants: Dale Schmit, Ted Albers, Richard Dubal, Mark McLane, Kevin Burke, Marcus Keely, Beda Beeli, Robynn Albert (leader). Photos: Dale, Ted, Kevin, Marcus, Beda. Way too many great photos to include all of them, but you can see them here.
February 15 historical events
2/16/2020 – Raven’s Ridge
A group of 9 walked this ramble in the woods for a couple of hours.  with a few short rocky climbs of a few hundred vertical feet. The first 900’ are on a boardwalk. Raven’s Ridge is described as a rocky forest refuge for a variety of wildlife. This Nature Conservancy property (nature.org/Vermont) stretches from Lewis Creek south along a ridge on the boundary of Charlotte and Hinesburg to a large wetland complex in Monkton. The area straddles all three towns. The Conservancy has improved the path that gives access to unusual rock formation below the ridge known as “the oven”.  The whole outing is a couple of miles long and we were rewarded with some nice west-facing views from the top of the ridge. Note the ridge is closed for part of the spring as it is a raven nesting area. With Deb, Fred, Kathy, Jonathan, Barbara, Alice, Lisa, Charlotte, Wally and trip leader Ted Albers.

2/9/2020 – Camels Hump Loop
The trip was originally scheduled for Saturday, February 8, but it seemed likely that the road to the trailhead wouldn’t be cleared yet after the heavy snow the day and night before.  The weather forecast also called for temperatures around zero F with wind chill approaching – 40F. So we waited a day, when the forecast was about 20 F warmer, the winds about 10 mph lower, and the road crews should have had time to clear the road. Siz of us met at the Richmond park & ride at 8:30, meeting the last at the trailhead at 9. We all wore snowshoes from the start, expecting to do some trailbreaking, but all trails had tracks, so we couldn’t even get decently lost (to Robynn’s disappointment). The sun was bright as we started out around 9:20, and continued until clouds started moving in as we passed the Alpine Trail junction on our last climb to the summit. We reached the Long Trail around 10:30 and the summit around 1:30. After a lunch break at the hut clearing we headed down Burrows Trail, with several of us taking turns trying little sleds Jill and Andrew had brought. We reached the cars around 2:30, for a trip time of about 5 hours and 10 minutes, making this one of the fastest winter trips I’ve done on this route. Participants: Jill George, Robynn Albert, Steve Titcomb, Marcus Keely, Dale Schmit, Andrew Chalnick, David Hathaway (leader). Photos: David, Robynn, Marcus, Andrew, Steve, Jill.

2/1/2020 – Stowe Pinnacle
Thanks to all and to the Higher Powers for great weather (minus the sun), an awesome day of hiking and perfect conditions.
Thanks for your good humour and conversation. Participants: Tess Stimson, Bamby Pierpont, Mary Keenan, Greg Bostock, Juan Zhang, Suzanne Daningburg (leader).