On Friday, February 23rd I got a call at 6:00 AM to cover for the middle school nurse which I reluctantly agreed to despite the fact that it killed my plans to go for a longer hike. At 6:03 AM I got another call announcing school was closed due to the impending ice storm which was to arrive by 11:00 AM. I figured this was a message to get out and hike early to be back before the storm hit. I decided to go to Frick Pond and hike some loop there that I had not done in some time. As I got my gear together Sheila seemed to be in complete agreement with my decision as she followed my around as I was dressing. Although the thermometer read right around freezing, the moisture in the air and a slight breeze made it feel much colder. I elected to put on a full baselayer with tights under my Columbia Omniheat pants and a long-sleeved top under a Mammut pullover. L always wear my Mammut Ultimate hoody and I put on a heavier hat and gloves. My plan was to hike the Quick Lake Trail to Iron Wheel Junction. From here we would hike the Logger’s Loop to Times Square an then ascend the Big Rock Trail to The Flynn Trail to get back to the car. There had been some snow the day before but the rain and warm weather during the week had destroyed the snow that was there making snow shoes unnecessary. I put my spikes in my pack not knowing whether there would be enough is to warrant their use. Sheila was happy to be going anywhere and crouched in the back seat with her head on the console. I drove out DeBruce Road just after 8:00 AM and after 6 miles I turned left on Mongaup Road. Where the road splits I stayed left on Beech Mountain Road and parked in the smaller lot at 8:20 AM. It didn’t take us long to walk the woods road out to the Quick Lake Trail to start our hike. There was frozen snow on many of the trees so I took a few pictures. As we started to hike the temperature was only 28 degrees and I felt a chill despite my layers. The trail had some very wet snow and areas of water that had to be avoided. On the way to the register box it was obvious the wind had brought down a lot of smaller branches and some larger branches. The woods road out to Frick Pond was also very wet with some exposed areas of standing and running water. There was still some ice which I avoided as it covered water beneath it and was often not strong enough to support my weight. We stayed left at Graveyard Junction to stay on the Quick Lake Trail. When we arrived at the bridge across the outlet, I decided to stop and take pictures despite the fact that I have hundreds from this location. The ground was still covered by snow and the trees had a coating of frozen snow which gave the scene some interest. The water level in the pond was high and the ice was partly melted. The sky was completely overcast and it looked like a storm might be moving in. I took some shots and then we continued on around the pond. We stayed left at the trail junction to stay on the Quick Lake Trail and found that there was still plenty of water in this area which I avoided. There were more branches along the trail and I cleared as many as I could. We continued on our hike passing through the “Spruce Tunnel”. The small stream through the woods was running freely and was very high. Sheila simply jumped across but I walked upstream a little to a narrower and more shallow area to cross. I took some pictures here of the stream and the snow on the trails. By 9:15 AM we had walked the 1.5 miles to Iron Wheel Junction. At the trail junction I decided it would be a good idea to turn left and walk the entire big loop up to Hodge Pond. We did turn in that direction but after a short distance I noticed that there was rain and ice falling from the sky and decided to go back to my original plan. We turned around and headed out on the Logger’s Loop Trail.
The Logger’s Loop is mostly downhill in this direction and we made good time but encountered some more blowdowns along the way. This trail didn’t have quite as much water but did have a little more snow. The rain wasn’t falling heavily but it was steady. I knew it should have bothered me but I was so glad to be out I hardly noticed. Just before starting the descent to Times Square, we stopped at a small pond on the left side of the trail so that I could take some pictures. This pond is seasonal but has been growing in size for several years. It was surrounded by trees with a coating of snow which added some interest to an otherwise bleak scene. By 9:45 AM we were at Times Square and about 2.7 miles into the hike. The rain was coming in spurts, starting and stopping but I knew the forecast was for it to continue and get more steady. I considered simply walking the Logger’s Loop back to Gravestone Junction as I could see a blowdown I wanted to inspect. In the end I opted to stick to the original plan and get a little more distance and difficulty by hiking up the Big Rock Trail. We turned left to start up the Big Rock Trail which gains 600 feet to the Flynn Trail over 1.1 miles. The average grade is only 10% but the route has three different climbs and can seem long. We set a pretty fast pace on the climb and I found that although my heart rate was elevated I felt good. Not very far up the trail we encountered a very large tree that had been across the trail. The snowmobile club had cleared this earlier in the season and I had done some finishing work with axe and saw. I knew that there was another large blowdown further up the trail which had not been cleared the last time I passed through. I had seen snowmobiles coming down the trail on another occasion and knew it had probably been removed. When we got to the blowdown, I found the snowmobile club had been at work cutting the blowdown and removing it from the trail. The diameter of the one trunk was at least three feet but it was rotten and hollow. I stopped to take a few shots but then noticed that the rain was starting again so we moved on quickly. We reached the Flynn Trail at 10:30 AM after hiking 3.9 miles and we immediately turned right and began the descent back to the car. The snow still covered the trail but there were areas where water had overflowed the ditch along the side of the road. There were a few large branches on or near the trail and there was one large blowdown a little further along which looked a lot like the one that I had spotted on the Logger’s Loop. Sheila was still excited at this point and was running up the trail and back to me. She was taking a few excursions off the trail to follow animal tracks but was pretty close so I let her explore. She started to grab some rather large branches so I picked up a stick and threw it several times for here to retrieve. The trip down the Flynn Trail went quickly and my muscles were glad I was going down! We soon arrived at the gate that blocks Beech Mountain Road. We turned left to stay on the Flynn Trail as it continues through the woods to avoid the private property around the cabin. Some hikers cannot read the signs and have annoyed the property owner by trespassing! We continued down to the parking area on the trail. We were back at 11:05 AM having covered 5.7 miles in 2 hours and 45 minutes with a vertical gain of 955 feet.