On Saturday, March 10th I was ready to go out for a hike before the temperature rose and made the snow too “clumpy”. I also knew that the snow might disappear any day with warmer weather and rain! I wanted to get in a longer hike that was Not on Round top across from my driveway and decided to go to Frick Pond to hike a route. When I awoke in the morning the temperature was just above 20 degrees so I was not too eager to get a very early start. I did a few things around the house and then decided to get going before the snow got too soft. I asked Cindy of she wanted to go and she agreed. I did not have to ask Sheila as she is always ready to hike. Because the temperature was only in the high 20’s , I decided to wear my Mammut hoody and warmer Columbia Titanium pants with tights underneath. On top I chose a long-sleeved baselayer under a Mammut pullover. The hoody has lots of zippers to help regulate temperature and I knew I could always take it off if I got too warm. I wore a heavier hat and gloves and out on my Salomon B52 winter boots and OR Crocodile gaiters to deal with the deep snow. Cindy and I got all our gear ready including our snowshoes which we knew we would have to use due to the deep snow that had fallen during the week. We both chose our Tubbs Alp Flex VTR snowshoes. They are a little smaller than some but have the BOA binding system. 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 anywhere and crouched in the back seat with her head on the console. Just after 10:30 AM we headed out the DeBruce Road. After about 6 miles, I turned left on Mongaup Pond Road and stayed left where the road split falling Beech Mountain Road to the trailhead. By the time we had arrived at the parking area, the was 28 degrees but a stiff breeze made it feel cooler. The lot had been plowed once but new snow had accumulated. There were no other cars in the lot and there were no tracks. A quick inspection of the trails showed that no one had been out on them since the last snowfall on Wednesday. I like breaking trail in untouched snow but it is very tiring! We put our snowshoes and headed out to the woods road to the Quick Lake Trail at 10:45 AM. The snow was deep and had some water underneath which I tried to avoid since it causes snow to stick to the bottom of the snowshoes. We passed the trail register and heading toward Frick Pond. I could see that there were a lot of branches that had been weighed down by the snow and were leaning onto the trail. We had to try to avoid these branches and the places where there was water on the trail. At Gravestone Junction we turned right to get on the yellow Logger’s Loop heading toward Times Square.
I stopped once or twice to take pictures and a short rest as walking through the drifted snow was hard work. there were several large trees down across the trail and I knew we would have work to do to clear the trail in the spring. We walked around the blowdowns and headed downhill toward Times Square. I did not know what to expect at Times Square knowing that if the Logger’s Loop was not packed by snowmobiles we probably could not hike it for the whole length! At Times Square we found that the trail had been packed by snowmobiles and that three machines were stopped ahead on the Logger’s Loop. I could hear a chainsaw stunning and thought were probably members of The Sullivan County Trails Association. This is group that enjoys riding snowmobiles and keep all the trails they use free of blowdowns and blockages. This is a great help for hikers as they are allowed to use chainsaws which saves a lot of time on larger trees. As we approached the group, I introduced myself and found that This was Mike Barkley, president of the association, and his crew. We talked for a while and then decided to continue. The snowmobiles left first further packing the trail. We began to climb uphill but the walk was much easier on the packed trail. We had both walked through some slush which now attracted snow to the bottom of the snowshoes. We had to clear our snowshoes several times before we could walk comfortably. The trail was well packed by snowmobiles and almost immediately we could hear some machines coming from the direction of Mongaup Pond. Sheila ran right over to me and we all walked off the trail. As the machines approached and saw us, they slowed down to a crawl. We waved as they passed us and accelerated. Some people complain about the smell of the exhaust but it has never really bothered me. I realized that to me it smells like the exhaust from chainsaws which brings back a lot of good memories from when I was logging with my father 50 years ago. We continued our hike as the trail continued to rise and then flattened a little. Several times along the way we moved to the side of the trail to allow more snowmobiles to pass. It was a pleasure to walk on the packed trail and we were soon at Iron Wheel Junction. I stopped to take a few pictures of the contrast between the packed snowmobile trail and the fresh and untouched snow on the Quick Lake Trail. We turned left at the junction and headed back toward Frick Pond on the Quick Lake Trail.
As we started out on the Quick Lake Trail, I was breaking trail through about 6 inches of new snow that was piled on top of over a foot that had fallen in a previous storm. Occasionally I would break through the snow underneath which made the going even tougher. We stopped for a drink and a bar. As we were stopped, it started to snow! I took some pictures of the track we were leaving and the untouched snow ahead. The consistency of the snow and the air temperature combined to give the snow and almost “silky” feel. Some of the snow stuck to our snowshoes but it wasn’t too bad. The trail is slightly downhill which was good since I was getting more tired by the minute. We came to the small stream in the woods which had a little too much water to cross on the rail. We walked upstream a little and found a narrower spot but still had to get our snowshoes wet! Immediately the snow began to stick to the bottom of the snowshoes and it took us several times to get it cleaned off. Walking through the “spruce tunnel” was not easy as there were several new blowdowns and many branches heavy with snow hanging down in the trail. Eventually we walked out the other side. The snow was deeper here and I developed a routine of counting steps to take my mind off the difficulty of the task. There were a few wet spots but we avoided them and finally arrived at the junction with the Big Rock Trail. I had hoped that someone had made a track here but the snow was pristine. We turned right to follow the Quick Lake Trail to the bridge across the outlet of Frick Pond. The snow had rifted to a depth of 2 feet in some paces but the drifts were firm which allowed us to stay on top of the. I stopped at the bridge despite the fact that I have taken hundreds of pictures from it. I took a few shots of the bridge with snow on it and some of Cindy and Sheila and a large drift at the western end of the bridge. I also took shots of the pond and Flynn’s Point. The snow was still coming down but did not obsure the scene. I packed up and we continued up the hill and back to Gravestone Junction. The small hill was all I could handle as my leg muscles were shot. At Gravestone Junction we continued out the Quick Lake Trail and back to the car. Along the way it became obvious that several other hikers had been on the trail with snowshoes. Most of the way they had stayed in the track Cindy and I had started but at times deviated or walked side-by-side. We arrived at the car at 1:55 PM having hike 3.8 miles in 3 hours and 10 minutes with an elevation gain of 390 feet. I was glad to be back at the car and sitting down!