On Monday, February 20th, I was ready to get a hike in even though I was still suffering the effects of a cold. I had not been out since the previous Wednesday due to work and family commitments. The weather had changed from over a foot of snow the week before to temperatures in the 50’s which reduced amount of snow and increased the amount if water on the trails. I don’t like these conditions very much but the forecast showed they would be around for the rest of the week! My daughter, Krista, and her husband, Brad, were visiting and Brad decided to go with me. We decided to Rae snowshoes along and make a division about using them at the trail head. Sheila would like to go out everyday and was more than ready to go for a hike. When I looked at the temperature just before 11:00 AM, it was already 38 degrees so I opted for one layer top and bottom and wore my Mammut hoody. We got our gear in the car and headed out the DeBruce Road. I turned left on the Mongaup Pond Road to head toward the Frick Pond trailhead. I stayed to the left where the road spilt and headed up Beech Mountain Road to the trailhead. This road had been plowed but was now a mess from thawing which produced muddy ruts. Both parking areas were well plowed with some ice and some completely bare spots. There was one car parked in the smaller lot where we pulled in. I got put to inspect the trail toward Frick Pond and found quite a bit of snow remaining. The snow was hard packed and icy in spots so I suggested we wear snowshoes if only for the grip they would provide. There was a slight breeze at the trailhead and I was a little chilly as we started out. We headed down the woods road toward the register. There was some ice and the hard-packed snow was just as bad. It was clear that quite a few people had taken advantage of the nice weather to snowshoe the loop around Frick Pond. The woods road from the register out to Gravestone Junction had snow but also several areas of standing and running water. We made the best of it by striding over the water or walking in the snow that remained on either side of the road. We stayed to the left at Gravestone Junction and walked down the hill to Frick Pond. By the time we got to the pond, the breeze was still blowing and the view was much the same as it had been on recent hikes. I decided to forego the pictures from the bridge and we continued on the Quick Lake trail around the west side of the pond.
At the next trail junction we stayed to the left to follow the Quick Lake Trail through the “Spruce Tunnel” to Iron Wheel Junction. I definitely felt that the snowshoes were giving us the grip we needed but spikes might have been just as good as the snow here was packed also. The last time I had been in the area the Quick Lake Trail to Ironwheel Junction was untouched but now showed use by several snowshoers. There was some water on the trail in this area but we easily walked around it. There was still quite a bit of snow in the woods away from the trail averaging from 6 to 8 inches. We stopped in the “Spruce Tunnel” where I took a few shots and then came to the small stream which was running freely with water from the rain and melting snow. I took some pictures and then we hopped across the stream. We continued up to Iron Wheel Junction still having to avoid water along the way. When we arrived at Iron Wheel Junction, I turned right to get on the Logger’s Loop and head toward Times Square. I could feel that I was tired from fighting the cold I had contracted and was not in shape to take on a longer route. The Logger’s Loop is part of the snowmobile trail and was well packed which made walking very easy. The sign told us that Times Square was about 1.2 miles away but I knew that we would go through a series of ups and downs along the way before hitting the highest point at 1.8 miles. We stopped so that I could take a few pictures of the packed trail and the untouched snow further off in the woods. The sun was out now and was making the snow sparkle as well as warming us. Once we hit the high point it was all downhill to Times Square. At Times Square I took a quick look up the Big Rock Trail but decided to simply continue out the Logger’s Loop. Brad offered no objections as he also had been fighting a cold for over a week. This part of the trail has a slight uphill but is probably the easiest way back to the parking area from Times Square. All along our hike we had been noticing the areas where we had cleared blowdowns. We also noted that the new trail markers we had put up on all the trails were clearly visible even through the snow. Some places on the Logger’s Loop were a little wet but the 2+ foot drifts we had found on our last pouting had been reduced by the warm weather. When we crested the small hill and started down to Gravestone Junction I was very happy and my legs felt a little better. At Gravestone Junction we turned left on the Quick Lake Trail and began the walk back to the car. On the way back Sheila alerted and I saw a young couple headed toward us. We talked to them briefly and I asked if they had rented the snowshoes they were wearing at Morgan Outdoors. They had and I am glad that Lisa offers this service as it keeps the trail in good shape. We were back at the car at 1:05 PM having taken 2 hours to hike 3.6 miles with an elevation gain of only 386 feet.