Sunday, February 21, 2010

Moonlight Snowshoeing - Featherstonehaugh State Forest

Every month in the winter just before the full moon, I lead a moonlight snowshoeing trip for Schenectady ADK. There's an easy 1-hour loop in Featherstonehaugh State Forest which is very close to home, and this has proven to be a popular trip. Scheduling can be a crap shoot, with weather, snow conditions, and people's calendars all coming into play. Any night between first quarter and full moon usually provides enough moon brightness and altitude to let us do this trip without any artificial lights, a new thing for a lot of people.

With cloudiness and snow forecast for every other night in the coming week, tonight looked like the only night with any remote hope of clear skies. So our group of 4 headed up to Featherstonehaugh and gave it a shot. When we arrived, the skies had completely clouded over, though with only thin clouds. As our eyes adjusted to the dark, the visibility became better as we left the snowmobile trail and headed off into the forest. We (meaning I) lost the official trail at one point and got sidetracked on the unofficial "Purple Duct Tape Trail" by mistake. After backtracking to the real trail with the help of a flashlight, we continued on our intended route under rapidly clearing skies. For the last third of the trip, the moon shone brilliantly, though only a glimmer of how it would look when full later in the week. The stars were bright and it was a beautiful night to be out.

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