Tag Archives: snowshoeing

Keeping Snowshoe Trails Open

We have received some sizeable snow falls that threatened to obscure our previously made trails. And with the temperatures staying cold we have maintained our snowshoe / XC ski trails with little snow loss. We have about 2+ feet of snow laying on the ground. The deeper snow is nice as it keeps Tripp from running around chasing animal tracks. After a few strides into the deep stuff he usually decides the trail is a better option. Cullen usually tracks last.

We made a new loop, Gary’s Loop, to give us an alternative to our 1 mile dog ‘walk’ and worked to keep a good trail on the Lollipop Loop. Saturday Kathryn and I snow-shoed ~3 miles of the ‘handle’ and left side of the loop (6 -12 clockwise on a clock face). Sunday we completed the clock face (counter clockwise) to finish off the trail. It was a great day for a long snowshoe through the woods.; although Kathryn swapped for her skis for a glide back home.

Covid Vaccine and Adding to the Snowshoe Trails

Kathryn and I got the second Pfizer shot today.  So far, no side effects to mention, knock on wood.  In fact, it doesn’t even hurt as much as it did with the first one.    I hope tonight goes well.  They told us NOT to take ANYTHING (no Tylenol, no aspirin, no nothing) unless you “can’t bear it” and “simply can’t stand it.”  They said that several times, and told us both the same thing.  We don’t want anything to interfere with your immune system response, they said.  We want your immune system to go full bore and do it’s job, they said. 

Eric has been working part time at Olney’s Flowers to help with the Valentine’s Day rush. Eric had his first “slip and slide” on his way to work.  It was precipitating very lightly – freezing rain.  He didn’t make the corner by Edwards Road and got into the icy snowbank but missed the signs.  We pulled him out with the truck.  He said “I braked too late.  Now I realize you need to slow down BEFORE you get into the curve.” I told him “Slow the F###down!” but otherwise no yelling.  Lesson learned, we hope.  Minor damage to the front fender, which popped out a little bit.  Major learning experience, we hope. 

Eric is working again this week T/Th/Fr/Su so I guess they are keeping him on for now – even though he was late to work today! (only 30 minutes, and he said he got teased good for the accident).  He said they were pretty busy today.  Last minute shoppers, I guess. We packed a trail from cookout corner across Gary’s hay field, up through the lane connecting to the “Deer Stand Field”, through the pine woods and connecting with our previous trail to the top of Kirkland’s field. The snow was heavy wet and deep but packed down to make a decent XC trail.

More Snowshoe Trails

Kathryn and I (with an occasional assist by Skip), have worked on what we call our ‘Lollipop Trail’.  This is a ~3.5 mile XC ski and snowshoe trail through the woods across the road.  We started expanding by snowshoes back in mid-January and got it flagged and pretty packed down. Almost to the point where Kathryn said it was a little too slick and fast coming down the hill.

I decided to create a new branch to the trail through my neighbors hay field, up a long wooded lane and crossing a final hayfield to rejoin Lollipop at the point where the candy sucker portion meets the stick.  So I strapped on my gaiters and 10×30 snowshoes and headed out.

The snow was deep.  Too deep.  It was one of those – take 10 steps, pause to reflect why one is doing this, and then take another 10 steps.  I got 2/3ths of the trail done.  What I needed were your super flotation, doubles as bush plane pontoons, super long snow shoes like Matt has.  It was perfect conditions for them.

Going back was easy.  Hopefully, I can complete the trail in the next day or two despite the 6″ of fresh snow we got in the past 24 hours.

Breaking Snowshoe Trails

On Wednesday I managed to snowshoe around the whole loop – 2 hours a 10 minutes and an accomplishment for me that I probably couldn’t have done a week earlier. Reducing the beta blockers has been beneficial.

But as soon as we get a nice trail, Mother Nature brings us a Thursday full of rain and 10+ inches of new snow on Friday. So we were back in the mode of re-establishing our trails. Sunday Kathryn and I broke trail to the top of the hill and partially around the loop. A gorgeous day with blue skies and sunlight making the icy trees sparkle.

Snowshoeing

Breaking Snowshoe Trails

The dogs and I took a nice snowshoe hike spotting a Ruffed Grouse’s Kieppe, what I believe are quite possibly bobcat tracks, a couple of scent marked sticks by alleged bobcat and the miles of view offered by Pen Bonc Hill.

My snowshoeing buddies: Cullen and Scout (who’s long hair gives her a striking resemblance to a miniature Musk Ox)

I enhanced this photo’s contrast to highlight the Kieppe made by this Ruffed Grouse. I believe he/she flew in and landed at the top of the photo – there were two distinct wing patterns in the snow. The grouse then walked a short distance and burrowed out a shelter in the snow for protection overnight. The burrow had pellets and was urine stained. In the morning he/she left across the pile of snow (the foot prints are visible) launched into the air and a single wing beat shown in the show marks the departure.

What I believe may be bobcat tracks.

One of the several scent marked sticks we encountered on our hike.

JThe view east to Frankfort from Pen Bonc Hill


Maintaining our trails

It has been hard to keep our XC ski trails in good condition as our weather has fluctuated among cold weather, rain, ice storms and lake effect snowfalls.  Lots of places are still wet and require some maneuvering around wet spots.  We had to move or cut some downed branches.  I built a small leaning rail at the junction of the loop where Kathryn sometimes changes from snowshoes to skies to glide back home.

Snowshoeing the Ski Trail

We finally got a couple of snowfalls – enough to provide a base for our XC ski trails.  Skip and I managed to snowshoe to the top of Kirkland’s field (1 hour up and 30 minutes down trail) , followed by another day completing half the lollipop loop.  On 26 December the dogs and I completed the loop by going counter clockwise past “Appliance Alley” to the teepee / halfway mark on the loop.  Despite warming temperatures and rain the trail mostly held together; enough for Skip, Beth, Kathryn and I to snowshoe the whole circuit on Wednesday.  On Thursday and Friday we received 21 ” of snow.

New Year’s Day Kathryn and I began to re-establish the filled in trail.  For the most part I was able to discern where our previous trail was, but it was faint and it felt like breaking trail all over again.  It took us about an hour to get just inside the woods to the intersection of the trail to Appliance Alley.  From there Kathryn skied back to the house.  It took me 30 minutes to snowshoe back down the hill on the broken trail. We will probably to extend the loop in the coming week similar to the way we did last week.  Hopefully the rain in the forecast won’t be too hard.

The View From Pen Bonc

Earlier this week I retraced our loop trail and bolstered the flagging on portions that were a little confusing.  Unfortunately, Kathryn got a cold and then went to Ottawa with Eric, Margaret and Harrisen and did not get to ski the trail.  We got another 6″ of snow afterwards and then the weather turned warm – making for heavy, wet snow.

On Friday I took the dogs for a short walk and made it to Cookout Corner.  On Saturday we broke trail to the top of the hill where I took this picture moments before sleet came in and we head for home.

Pen Bonc Panoramic

Trailblazing

We got 9″ of new snow on Friday evening, finally enabling some XC skiing and snowshoeing.  Kathryn got ‘lost’ on Saturday when she tried to ski the loop so Sunday AM we set off to traverse the loop and flag the confusing portions.  Eric wore XC skis, I wore snowshoes and Kathryn wore her snowshoes and packed her skis; planning to ski the return trip downhill on our trail. Below the group takes a break near cookout corner.

P1050029

We got to the top of the hill where Eric grew fatigued, complained of stomach problems and asked to return.  So he and Kathryn skied back down the hill while I snowshoed the loop and flagged the trail such that Kathryn could easily repeat the trip.  It took me from 9:30 – 11:30 to make the snowshoe trail through the woods but it was a pretty trip.

Gull Pond

Earlier in winter I had been contacted by Ed’s Wilderness Systems to use and review one of his pulks for winter camping. At the beginning of March I was contacted by a representative of Eureka! offering a winter camping sleeping bag for review.

Over the winter I did a lot of snowshoeing but few overnight trips. The weekend of 26 March (right after our return from St John) was a last opportunity to go winter camping with significant snow cover. Skip and I decided to hike into to Gull Pond for an overnight on Saturday. It was my opportunity to pull the pulk and use the sleeping bag.

We had a 2.5 mile trip hike into the Gull Lake lean-to. The 1st portion followed a mostly level road bed used by snowmobilers with compacted snow. We passed tracks left by an otter. Otters often travel overland far from water, but in this case a small stream is visible in the background. The snow clearly shows prints that are ~3″ long with five toes on the front feet and five toes on the hind feet.

When sliding the otter will either coast on its belly with forefeet held along its sides and rear feet held out behind or, as in this case, get a ‘running start’ and slide on its belly across the snow and then continue by pushing itself to reach the end of a slide. Alongside the slide you can see troughs in the snow made by the otter pushing its self with their feet tucked under their bodies. Also in distance so you can see tracks mixed in with the slide.

The range of a typical river otter is fairly large, roughly 10 square miles, with most of that area is within a short distance from a river, lake, or pond.

The 2nd portion of the trail involved ~160’ elevation gain up a rough and eroded trail. This was more akin to bushwhacking as we avoided the gullies formed by erosion and weaved around the trees adjoining the trail. The snow was hard and crusty and initially I was apprehensive about the sled slipping sideways. However, slipping was rarely an issue. The sled tracked straight and the few times that it was unavoidable to traverse a side hill it was not difficult to keep forward motion with the sled.

The difficulty was in going uphill. The combination of a heavily loaded sled (64 lbs) and the hard packed crust made it real work to dig in the crampons on the snowshoes, lean forward and pull. It felt like I was using different leg muscles (calves and sides of my thighs) than I would normally use hiking.

We reached the Gull Lake lean-to and found 3 guys and a German Shepard. They had been there since Thursday and had bountiful gear occupying the space. We took a short rest and considered our options. We could share the crowded lean-to or try and find a place to bivouac or try to hike back out. Counting on staying at the lean-to we did not pack a tent or tarp which made the bivouac not all that attractive. We decided to hike back out. I gulped down 32 oz of water and dumped some of the water I had packed in, to help lighten the load.

We ventured out at 6:30. The snow was so hard packed that we decided to hike out without our snowshoes. It was a quick and easy hike back down to the snowmobile trail and made it back to the cars a little before 8pm as the light was fading.

We stopped off at the Tavern on the Green in Prospect for a beer and wings and watched the NCAA Quarter Finals.

There is a lengthy review of the EWS Snow Clipper pulk on WinterCampers.com.