Saturday, December 19, 2009

Walk - Featherstonehaugh State Forest

Whew - 8 days since I've done anything outside! Between Christmas preparations and the frigid weather of the past few days, I've had to rely on biking on the indoor trainer. Today, I needed to change that.

I drove up to Featherstonehaugh State Forest to check on the status of logging operations and to get out for a walk along the designated XC ski trails there.

It looked like logging had not yet resumed for the winter yet on the larger eastern section of the forest. But there were a couple of hunters, or possibly target shooters, hovering around the place I wanted to start, so I decided on the smaller western section where no logging was scheduled. I parked on Hardin Road and walked a figure-8 loop there in bare boots, since the snow was icy and hard-packed.

The trails were anything but skiable. The snow had been trampled while soft, and then froze into a concrete-like consistency. Along with that, there were lots of bare spots where the snow had melted from underneath before the freeze, and a lot of light brush that hadn't yet been flattened out by the heavier snows to come. With no tools, I cleared what obstructions I could, but a trip through here with a pair of loppers and a grass whip could accomplish a lot.

The biggest problem remains a large tree down across the trail near the southern end of the figure-8, obstructing what would otherwise be a nice downhill run.

I came here once last winter with a small saw and cut back the crown of this tree around the right-hand side, and provided at least some passage around it. Today, I snapped off some dead overhanging limbs down hill from the tree, and there's now a more or less straight shot down the rest of the hill once past the crown.

We're missing a big storm to our south as I write this, and there's no other local snow in the foreseeable future. With no XC skiing to come, it's time to get back on the bike trainer...

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