On Monday, February 27th I wanted to get out for a slightly longer hike since the forecast for the next few days included some rain. I decided that I would go to Trout Pond as I had not been there in some time. I wore a baselayer up top but decided I didn’t need tights since the forecast was for temperatures into the high 40’s. I did take a light pair of gloves and a hat. I wore my Keen Glarus boots as I did not think I would Ned the insulation of the Saloon Nytro boots. I wrapped myself in my Mammut hoody and headed out the door right around 11:00 AM. Sheila as always was ready to get going and bounded out of the door behind me leaping into the backseat as soon as I opened the door. I headed north and west on Route 17 toward Roscoe. Sheila could hardly contain herself in the back seat as she really loves hiking. I got of at exit 94 and headed north toward Downsville on Route 206. I turned left onto Morton Hill Road and drove to the intersection with Russell Brook Road. I turned around and parked on the side of the road to avoid parking in the large open space which is marked as private property. The temperature was 38 degrees when I parked and it was only a few minutes before Sheila and I started down Russell Brook Road at 11:25 AM. The sun was out but a breeze made it feel cool. I knew I would not need snowshoes but was surprised that the road was a sheet of ice! I started down the hill slipping and sliding and decided I would stop to don my Microspikes. It was much easier walking after that and we made good time walking down the road. As we walked down the road, the stream was making a lot of noise so I expected the falls to have a good volume. There were a few spots without ice as we continued down the road but the spikes were still handy. As we passed the lookout over the falls, I found the volume to be higher than it had been since the early spring but I decided to wait for the trip back to take pictures. We headed down to the lower parking area where there were no cars. We walked down to the woods road that is the main trail and crossed the bridge over Russell Brook. I stopped to take a few pictures of the snow-covered bridge and the brook upstream and downstream of the bridge. We walked passed the stand of Japanese knotweed that looked harmless and completely dead. I decided to save the visit the falls for the trip back and walked to the register box to head up to Trout Pond. The trail had some running water in places but there was only a little snow and ice. I took off my spikes and stowed them in my pack. The blue sky still had some puffy white clouds and some sun as we continued up the trail toward the pond. Most of the trail continued to have almost no snow or ice and mud became a bigger problem. At the pond, I took off my pack and got out the camera. The water level was high enough for water to pour over the spillway. I took some pictures from above and then walked down to a point below the small waterfalls to take some pictures. There were some interesting ice formations and I was pleased with the shots. We walked back up to the shore of the pond which was covered in a layer of ice that was showing open spots around the edges. The rest of the ice did not look sturdy enough to support people but Sheila showed it would support a medium sized dog! I took a few pictures of the pond and noticed that the ice and water had a deep blue quality that I hoped would show up in the final product. The sky was also blue but the clouds were wispy without much body. I packed up and we continued up the trail toward the head end of the pond.
The trail remained much the same but now had a few large areas of standing water which was difficult to avoid in some spots. I did stop at one point to take a few more pictures before continuing toward the outlet. We walked across the bridge and I decided to walk off the trail toward the pond to take a few shots. The skies to the south of the pond were much cloudier with almost no blue showing through which was an interesting contrast to the view from the outlet end. We continued our walk on the main trail and started the ascent up the shoulder of Cherry Ridge. The trail became a stream bed and there was a little more snow especially in the woods. I had been following some foot prints which I could still see in the snow. The footprints looked rather fresh and I thought perhaps they were from the previous day. I expected that as we gained elevation there might be more snow but it never materialized. Along the way were several large blowdowns and many smaller one which were new. I picked up a few branches but most could not cleared without an axe and saw. Since I have begun to do trail maintenance, I always think how much easier it would be if everyone who hiked would just pick up a branch here and there. We made a slight turn to the south and began to climb some more. Sheila was roaming the brush near the trail and seemed to always be on a scent trail. We hit the high point on the hike and started down the other side. There was actually a little more snow on the southern exposure and quite a bit of water on the trail both standing and running. We continued to find blowdowns and branches on the trail. After a short ascent to the “forest of numerous small trees”, we walked down to the woods road and snowmobile trail and turned left to complete our loop. The slight ascent had some ice but was mostly mud and running water. I was able to walk on the sides of the trail to try to avoid the mud and water. The descent to the trail junction was wet in many spots but was completely devoid of snow and ice. I stopped to take a few pictures of the nearly bare trail. As we walked down the hill the skies continued to be bright and blue with sun shining. We passed the large campsite on the left at the bottom of the hill and walked over the bridge. We turned right at the trail junction to walk back toward the lower parking area. I really wanted to visit the lower falls so we turned left and walked the path toward the falls. I carefully descended the bank which had a glaze of ice. I dropped my pack and got out the camera. The sun was shining brightly off the deluge of water cascading liver the falls so taking pictures was tricky. I took some pictures of the falls and then a video. Along the banks there were areas where ice had fallen off the trees and had accumulated below. I took some pictures of the trees still encased in ice and the ice piled below them. I also took a few shots of Sheila since she posed for me in front of the falls without asking. I packed up and made it back up to the path and walked out to the trail. There seemed to be less ice but I decided putting on my Microspikes couldn’t hurt. We started the walk back up the road back toward the car. There was much less ice on this southern exposure and the sun felt warm ion my back. At the viewpoint for the upper falls, I walked off the road to the left and down to the lookout. The volume of wearer here was even more impressive so I put down my pack and got out the camera. I took various shots before putting the camera away and walked back up to the road. Once we topped the hill there didn’t seem to be much difference in the amount of ice and I was glad I had the spikes on. We arrived back at the car at 2:15 PM. We had hiked 5.5 miles in 2 hours and 50 minutes gaining 1090 feet of elevation. Our moving average was 2 mph which I considered good under the conditions. The temperature was 48 degrees of 10 degrees warmer than when we had set out Na d the sun made it seem even warmer. A forest ranger’s truck was parked at the intersection but no one was in it. I wondered if it was Joe Bink from Region 4 and what he was doing out on a beautiful day. Hiking perhaps?