Yesterday, I joined a Schenectady ADK trip to Hoffman Notch, a deep gorge in the Hoffman Notch Wilderness. Holly and I had tried this hike once before many years ago, but were stymied by high water in June at one of the stream crossings. Today, the 14 (!?!) people on the hike would hopefully not have the same problem, despite a recent report from NYSDEC about a washed-out bridge on this trail.
After some initial route confusion and a brief separation, we regrouped and continued on our way. Our first challenge, and possibly the referenced bridge problem, came at a series of small stream crossings not far from the car. We managed to reinforce a small beaver dam to make it crossable, and all made it to the other side.
Reaching a former power line crossing, we saw heavy frost on the vegetation in the valley after a cold night, as the sun rose on the peaks to the west.
Entering the Notch, we found Hoffman Notch Brook very scenic, with water tumbling over large boulders alongside the trail.
This is the brook that had turned Holly and I back years before, but a series of new bridges had solved that problem by crossing smaller branches of the stream lower in the Notch, so there was no problem today. The huge logs and high handrails on these bridges made us all look like small children or forest gnomes as we made our way across.
The upper sections of this trail were somewhat overgrown, lightly used, and more difficult to follow, but we reached Big Marsh, actually a good-sized pond, in time for an early lunch. The ice was about 1/2" thick here, and signs of beaver activity were everywhere.
The trip back to the cars was uneventful, and the trail easier to see with the sun now at our backs and the leaf litter disturbed by the earlier passing of our large group. We made good time back to the cars and headed home after a satisfying day outside.