On Monday, December 11th I planned to meet my brother-in-law, Jeff, to hike the Trout Pond loop. We agreed to meet at the Roscoe Diner at 9:00 AM since it is an easy place to find and meet. When I awoke at 6:30 AM the air temperature was 25 degrees with a slight breeze and I really wanted to crawl back into a warm bed. By 7:30 AM the temperature had dipped to 23 degrees which did not increase my enthusiasm. I knew that it would not be getting much warmer this winter and that I just needed to get out! I got my gear ready and made sure I had a set of spikes in my pack and another that Jeff could use. As I got dressed I put on a full baselayer including tights underneath my Columbia Omniheat pants. On top I decided to wear a medium weight Patagonia wool top. I wore a heavier hat and gloves putting a pair of mitts in my pack. I also decided to put on a pair of winter boots settling on my Salomon Nytros. I headed for Roscoe on the Quickway at 8:30 AM which was probably a little too early. I parked at the diner and waited for Jeff. When he arrived I wasn’t sure how Sheila would react but Jeff has apparently become one of her “pack” as she greeted him in her overenthusiastic way. I suggested we ride in my car as there is limited parking and Jeff agreed. I drove out the Rockland Flats on Route 206. Just after the Roscoe Nursing Home I turned left on Morton Hill Road and followed it for 3 miles to the intersection with Russell Brook Road. I turned around and parked on the side of the road avoiding the private parking area. We both remarked at the amount of snow which was from 3 to 5 inches. It was 9:20 AM when I set my electronics and we began our hike with the temperature still in the high 20’s. I like the walk down Russell Brook Road and Shiela seemed to be having fun running ahead and coming back to us. The forecast was for cloudy skies but there was plenty of blue and a little sun as we continued down the road. I was surprised that the road did not seem icy and we were able to make good time. I listened for the sound of the water in the brook and heard some noise but not as much as I expected. When we came to the viewpoint over the upper falls, I could see there wasn’t as much water going over the falls as I had hoped so we continued on the road down to the lower parking area. There were no cars in the lot but the gate was open to allow snowmobiles access to the trails. We continued down the road and crossed the bridge over Russell Brook. I found that the Japanese knotweed appeared completely dead but knew it would be back next spring. We continued on the road turning right on the path to the falls. We walked over to the path down the bank to the streambed and carefully descended to the brook. The falls were flowing nicely but I was disappointed there was no “frozen falls” to the right as there often is in winter. I got out my camera and took some pictures of the falls and then posed Sheila sitting just in front of the falls. After Sheila walked away, I took a few more pictures before putting away the camera and walking back out to the main trail. At the trail junction just after the register we continued straight ahead to walk up to Trout Pond. As we walked, Jeff and I talked about many things that we had in common including our churches and coaching high school sports. When we arrived at the pond, we walked to the left to the “beach” at the outlet end of the pond. The water level was a little lower than it had been but the lower end of the pond was covered with ice. The skies were very blue so I knew I had to take some pictures. I took some panoramic pictures and then zoomed in on very parts of the scene. Sheila decided to walk out on the thin ice which, fortunately, supported her weight.
We continued on the main trail on the east side of Trout Pond walking toward the inlet end and the lean-tos. I told Jeff about some of the history or logging n the area for tanning and the wood alcohol industry. The trail continued to be covered in snow but there was not much ice. I was very warm even though the climb is very gentle. I opened all the sippers on my Mammut hoody to dump as much heat as possible. I also lowered the hood as the hat was warm enough. As usual, I had overdressed but I would rather that than be too cold. We stopped at the lower lean-to for a moment and I checked out the privy which was in reasonable condition. We stopped at the bridge over the inlet and I took a few shots before continuing on the trail. We turned right to follow the trail up Cherry Ridge. As we hiked I found it satisfying to look at the many places where I had cleared branches and blowdowns from the trail. There were some new branches on the trail and several small blowdowns we were able to clear by moving them to the side of the trail. There was even more snow on the trail in this area but it did not impede our hiking. The skies that had been all blue were now blue in one direction and dark and cloudy in another. Soon we were at the highest point on Cherry Ridge and starting down the other side. This part of the hike can drag sometimes but it seemed to go very fast with someone else along to talk to and we were soon at the woods road and snowmobile trail that runs by Mud Pond. We turned left and start the short walk uphill. At the top of the hill we began the long descent back to the trail junction where we had started. The descent lasts for .7 miles and drops 385 feet to a bridge that crosses the outlet stream from Trout Pond. At the junction we turned right and headed back out to the lower parking area. Sometimes the walk back up Russell Brook Road seems long and tedious but I was still feeling fresh and Jeff seemed to be doing just fine. We started up the road and soon arrived back at the car. It was 12:35 PM when we arrived back at the car after hiking 5.6 miles in 3 hours and 10 minutes with a 1120 foot total ascent. The temperature was still just below freezing. I drove Jeff back to his truck at the Roscoe Diner and we agreed to hike again as soon as possible.