Hodge and Frick Ponds: Big Loop

HodgeFrickFeb2017_26camera32gps_pictalltrailscaltopomapmyhikeOn Friday, February 24th I decided it was time to get out hiking to make it two days in a row. I was still getting over a cold that had bothered me for over a week and noticed that I was short of breath on my three mile hike on Round Top the day before. I wanted to try a slightly longer hike and thought that the hike to Hodge and Frick Ponds would be a good one. Although I have done this hike many times I had not done it since the snow had fallen. I got up a little later than usual and finished some things around the house before getting ready to leave. The forecast was for sunny skies with highs in the low 60’s but with a chance of ruin around noon. I consulted the radar and it seems that the main part of the incoming storm would pass well north of us. I got my gear ready, put Sheila in the car and left the house a little after 9:30 AM. Given the forecast, I did not put on a baselayer and wore a lighter Mammut pullover instead of the wool I had been wearing for the colder weather. I wore my Salomon Nytro boots which seem to have just the right amount of insulation. I didn’t know how much snow there would be so I wanted the extra grip and height of these boots. I donned my Mammut hoody although I thought it might be a little too heavy as the sun made the day feel even warmer than the temperature. I grabbed a set of poles but decided against snowshoes or even spikes. When we arrived at the trailhead there were no vehicles in the main lot. Both lots were almost bare although there was still snow in the woods. At 10::00 AM we crossed the road and started out on the Flynn Trail. It was about 42 degrees but seems much warmer as the sun was shining. I left on my Mammut hoody but kept my hat and gloves in the pack. There was a layer of snow on the trail through the woods but it was bare in spots. When we got to the woods road, we turned right and I stopped to take some pictures of the completely bare trail. The road faces south and its upward slope is exposed to the direct rays of the sun. I took some shots and looked across the road to see if I could find the Old Flynn Road that Fred Fries had described. Last time I could not find the road under the snow but this time it was quite visible. I almost decided to follow the road but deiced to stay with my original plan. As we gained elevation, there was more and more snow on the trail. We set a good pace as we headed for the junction with the Big Rock Trail. At one point we came across a large tree across the trail. Several branches had broken off but I knew it would take an axe or a saw to completely clear the mess. We arrived at the junction at 10:50 AM and stopped to take a few pictures. There was still snow covering the trails and the entire junction. To the south the skies were beginning to cloud over and I worried about the forecast of rain. The skies to the north were still blue and sunny. We started out again on the Flynn Trail heading toward Hodge Pond. There were snowmobile tracks on the Flynn Trail even though it is clearly marked as ‘no snowmobiles”. At the gate I could see that the gap to the right of the gate was large enough to allow the machines to pass unhindered. I made note that my trail crew would have to do some work to move large boulders to block the gap since the signs do not deter those who want to ignore the signs. At the next trail junction we stayed left to walk down the hill toward the pond. As we broke out of the woods and walked toward the pond, we ran across drifts of at least 10 inches of snow. This made walking a little difficult. We walked over to the pond and I dropped my pack so that I could take some pictures. I took a few pictures of the pond and the blue sky with white clouds. I picked up my pack and headed back to the Flynn Trail continuing across the outlet stream staying on the Flynn Trail. There was several inches of snow on the trail but there were also some wet and muddy areas also. We followed the Flynn Trail when it headed left and up the hill to the gate. After the gate, the trail is relatively flat.

HodgeFrickFeb2017_53The Flynn Trail had pools and streams of water along the entire length from the gate to Junkyard Junction. It was difficult to walk on the side of the trail sine the water was so prevalent. Eventually we made it to Junkyard Junction and turned left on the Quick Lake Trail. We had hiked 3.4 miles and it was 11:45 AM when we made the turn onto the packed snow of the Quick Lake Trail. The trail alternated between areas that were completely covered in snow and areas with standing and running water. I stopped several times to take pictures of the trail conditions. We kept up a good pace passing the snowmobile trail to Quick Lake and arriving at Iron Wheel Junction at 12:30 PM after hiking 4.9 miles. We turned right to stay on the Quick Lake Trail and began the walk to Frick Pond. The trail was covered in snow in some areas but wet and muddy in other spots. We came to the stream across the trail which had enough water to make crossing it difficult. I walked upstream to narrow spot and easily crossed to the other side. I walked back downstream to the trail and out down my pack to take some pictures. I took pictures of the trail and the stream. I also took some shots of the small “waterfall” a little upstream. I shouldered my pack and we continued on the trail. We continued to run across wet spots on the trail. We also began to hear gunshots but it was difficult to determine their origin. We were soon walking down the trail toward Frick Pond and we passed the Big Rock Trail on the left. As we approached the bridge over the outlet of Frick Pond Sheila alerted and I heard voices. I put Sheila on her leash. As the bridge cam into sight, I could see two men standing on the bridge. I said “hello” and led Sheila over the bridge and tied her to a tree. I put down my pack, got out the camera and walked back to the bridge. The scene was the same as many of the times I had been there before but I still wanted to take some shots. I took several pictures of the pond and Flynn’s Point. I also took pictures of the stream below the bridge. I talked to the two men and found out the were from Long Island near Stony Brook. I attended Stony Brook University and lived in the area fro seven years while teaching at Harborfields. I walked over to Sheila and took her off her leash. I took a few pictures of Sheila before shouldering my pack and starting up the hill. We walked up the hill to Gravestone Junction and continued on out the Quick lake Trail to the parking area. This part of the trail was also covered with water with quite a bit running down the trail to drain into the stream. We walked out the trail to the register and turned right to stay on the Quick Lake Trail to the parking area. We arrived back at the car at 1:30 PM after covering 6.5 miles in 3 and a half hours with an elevation gain of 930 feet. The temperature at the car was 62 degrees or 20 degrees higher than at the beginning of the hike.