Round Top Loop Snowshoe

camera32gps_pictalltrailscaltopomapmyhikeOn Saturday, March 3rd I wanted to get out to hike in the 18 inches of snow that had fallen on Friday. The snow started early Friday morning and just kept coming! Initially it was heavy and wet but became “drier” and fluffier later in the day. At times the snow fell at around 2 inches and hour. I waited around all day for our ambulance corps to be called to motorcycle accidents but, thankfully, no calls came. We didn’t get a call until the snow almost stopped and that was for a medical condition. On Saturday morning it was still below freezing and I knew I had to get out in snowshoes. I knew that the back roads would be in poor condition and that the railheads would not be plowed. Cindy and I decided to head across the street and hike a loop on Round Top. By the time we got ready to go it was after 11:00 AM. It was around 30 degrees but actually felt warmer. I did not bother with tights under my Columbia Omniheat Pants but put on a baselayer on top under my Mammut pullover. As always I put Mon my Mammut Ultimate hoody and wore a hat and gloves. I wore my Salomon B52 winter boots and put on OR Crocodile gaiters to deal with the deep snow. Both Cindy and I wore our Tubbs Alp Flex VTR snowshoes. They are a little smaller than some and have the BOA binding system. I knew I wouldn’t need the flotation since the snow depth was only 6 to 10 inches. The BOA system uses a dial to tighten a thin but strong wire and seems to evenly tighten the binding around the foot. Sheila was happy to be going out in the snow as she loves to run and jump through it. She is mostly Yellow Lab but also has some Siberian Husky. Her longer coat keeps her warm in all but the coldest weather. We went outside, put on our snowshoes and I put Sheila on her leash. We headed out the driveway at 11:30 AM and crossed the street. Once in the field, I released Sheila from her leash. The snow was very deep and the walking difficult especially where the snow had drifted. We walked through the field next to the church with some effort and then started the walk up the steep but short cemetery hill. The snow on the road up the hill had drifted away so only a few inches remained until we got to the top of the hill. On the way up we stopped once so that I could take a few pictures. We stopped again at the top of the hill near the trailhead so I could take some more shots. The sky was still dark and the town was covered in snow. The snow had piled up on the branches of the trees and everything was pristine and beautiful. We turned left and entered the trail and I took more pictures of the bushes and trees bending to the ground under the weight of the snow. I could see one new blowdown across the trail. We worked our way around some bushes in the trail and I looked ahead to see a massive set of trees blocking the trail. Three or four large trunks had fallen from high to low across the trail completely blocking passage. I took a few pictures and tried to decide if there was any chance I could clear the blowdown with y hand tools. Cindy and I decided to walk off the trail to the right and bypass the blowdown on the uphill side. The bank was steep and as I headed up I could see we could not immediately cut back down to the trail. I decided to keep walking uphill until I hit the yellow trail. This would be the trail that we normally take by turning right at the first trail junction. It wasn’t long before we hit the trail and turned right to start the loop. The snow was untouched and the trees were still covered in snow. I again took pictures before continuing up the hill.

We could barely see the blazes on the trees and when it came time to turn left up the hill, I could not pick out the actual trail. All of the bushes were weighed down with the snow and made things look so different. I wasn’t too concerned as I knew we would eventually hit the trail. We walked uphill through the deep snow and I eventually found the yellow trail near the junction with the blue or upper trail. I waited for Cindy and then I headed up the blue trail toward the summit. Somehow I convinced Cindy that this was a good idea and we ascended the hill toward the summit. I could just make out the blue blazes in some places but the trail looked very different. When we reached the place where the trail turns right near the summit, I could see that it was blocked by low hanging bushes. I continued straight ahead walking through an area that is normally thick brush. The walking was easy as all the bushes were weighed down with snow. We regained the blue trail and headed across the summit to start the descent. On the descent I was able to lift the tips of my snowshoes and get a pretty good glide down the hill. It wasn’t long before we were at the bottom of the hill at the junction with the yellow trail. We turned right and followed the yellow trail toward the lookout. There was still a lot of snow on the trail but we were walking slightly downhill. When we got to the lookout, I decided to walk from the upper level to the lower to get the best view of the town and school. I reached the lower level of the lookout and dropped my pack to get out my camera. I took a few pictures of Cindy and Sheila posed on the upper level of the lookout. I turned my attention to the view from the lookout and took several shots of the school, the town and the hills beyond. I put the camera away and started to walk out the lower spur trail. I came to the point where there is gap in the path that must be crossed. The snow here had drifted over the trail and I was not comfortable crossing that gap. I turned around and walked back to the upper level the way I had come down. We walked down the yellow trail to the first trail junction. On this descent we were again able to glide down the hill to the trail junction. Here we turned left and started to ascend the easier trail looking for where we had come up to the trail from below. We eventually found where we had joined the trail and turned right to descend back to the trailhead avoiding the enormous blowdown that blocked the trail. We walked out to the trailhead and then down the hill to the church. We walked back across the field which was a little easier since we had already packed the trail. We crossed the street and walked back down the driveway to our house. We were home at about 1:00 PM after spending almost and hour and a half walking about a mile. I was ready to do lore but was also more tired than I thought I would be!

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