Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Walk - Featherstonhaugh State Forest

This week was supposed to be one of my monthly moonlight snowshoe outings at Featherstonhaugh State Forest, near Mariaville. Needless to say, snowshoes will not be necessary. But hearing reports of up to an inch of snow at higher elevations, I decided to see what had fallen at Featherstonhaugh, and whether a bare-boot outing in the moonlight would be an alternative.

Though we received only a dusting at best in the valley, there was indeed close to an inch of snow in the forest, just about enough to whiten the ground. And with a temperature of 13F and a howling north wind, it certainly looked and felt like winter.

The ground had mostly frozen, so there was no mud or swampiness to worry about. But the footing was rough and the walking difficult. Any standing water, of which this place has plenty, had a thin skin of ice on top, but not quite enough to support my weight. It was pretty slow going, and I won't be leading a nighttime trip here this week under these conditions.

The section of XC ski trail that I walked was in pretty good shape in terms of being passable, with little or no blowdown on the trail. Markers were plentiful, and skiing should be OK, at least on this section, once we get more snow.

A major bridge near Lake Road was moved off its alignment by recent flooding, and no longer connects well with the trail on its western end. If not fixed by ski season (doubtful), some brush may need to be trimmed at its current terminus to allow skiers to cross and continue.

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