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Friday, February 27, 2015

Hand Hollow(New Lebanon)

Went out for a late afternoon snowshoe hike at Hand Hollow Conservation Area, located in rural New Lebanon.  There are two entrances on each side of the 433 acre area.  Today I entered from the quiet Gale Hill Road trail head and parking area.  Trails are clearly marked and color coded.
 I hiked down through mixed woods and down to Meizenger Pond's snow covered waters.
 A birch tree along the trail.
 The blowing snow makes interesting patterns on the open pond.
 A panorama of Meizenger Pond.
 The sun looked nice, but did very little to warm things up.
 A snowy footbridge over Hand Hollow Brook.
 Days are getting noticeably longer, stretching daylight all the way to almost 6 o'clock now.
Snowshoe hiked about 2.5 miles RT on yet another cold winter day.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

White Rocks Ice Beds/ Deer Leap(Vermont)

Had the day off and the sun was out(and the wind chills weren't at dangerous levels), so I drove up to Vermont to do some hiking in the Green Mountain National Forest.  My first stop was at White Rocks Ice Beds located in the town of Wallingford, a few minutes east of the village on Forest Road 52.  The road is not maintained all the way during the winter, so you must park at a small pull off and walk up the road to the trail head.
 Luckily, a trail was already broken in making for a pleasant walk.
 The trail follows a series of switchbacks, climbing up through a hemlock forest.
 After only a short distance, you arrive at beautiful vista.  A panoramic view of 2682 foot White Rocks Mountain, where many rock slides are clearly visible.
 A view to the west over the Otter Creek Valley.
 The rock slides tumble down nearly 1,000 feet and the dramatic cliffs make for a very nice view.
 The blue blazed trail drops steeply down to the foot of the mountain, where the ice beds of jumbled boulders in the wooded valley create a micro climate of colder weather, even during the warm summer months.  As I returned back up the slopes on my way back, I caught one last glimpse of White Rocks through the trees.  Hiked 2.48 miles RT.
After leaving White Rocks Ice Beds, I grabbed a little lunch and headed about 40 minutes away to Deer Leap, a prominent rocky ledge located almost directly across from Pico Mountain Ski Area.  The rocky ledge is very noticeable from Route 4 and rises steeply above the Inn at Long Trail.
A large parking lot is located on the south side of Route 4, across from the Inn.  You must be very careful crossing busy Route 4 to the trail head, which can be found at the east side of the parking lot for the Inn.  It can be difficult to find in the winter time, due to the large snow banks.
 Sherburne Pass Trail climbs up for about a half mile to the Deer Leap Trail.  The first .3 miles of the Sherburne Pass Trail climbs gradually east above Route 4 and its constant traffic. 
 The slopes down to the road are very steep and footing can be a bit tricky through this section.
 The footing is good where previous hikers had walked, but the snow is extremely deep, making snowshoes necessary if you are to leave the trail at all.
 Once on the Deer Leap Trail and above 2,500 feet the trail  becomes thick with spruce and fir, weighed down heavily be snow.
 Good footing is essential once you arrive at the rocky overlook, as there are sheer drop offs below.
 The view that unfolds before you above Sherburne Pass is breathtaking.  Pico's ski slopes are the first thing your eye is drawn to.
 Route 4 can easily be seen far below winding to the west towards Rutland and the Valley of Vermont.
 Looking back up at the rocky ledge of Deer Leap.
 A closer look at Pico Peak's condos and resort area.
 3957 foot Pico Peak's steep ski slopes, directly across from Deer Leap.
 From east to west, a beautiful panorama with 4,235 foot Killington's ski slopes just over the east shoulder of Pico.
 A panoramic view to the south and west.
 Heading back along the Sherburne Pass trail accompanied by the late afternoon sun on another cold winter day.
 Hiked 2.46 miles RT at Deer Leap for a total of 4.94 miles for the day.  Even through the cold, it felt fantastic getting out there.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Ooms Conservation Area(Chatham)

Got out for a short walk with Kalli at Ooms Conservation Area in Chatham on a warm(finally!) winter day. 
 It was nice to see some birds out enjoying several bird feeders near Sutherland Pond.
Sutherland Pond and the surrounding vegetation are lovely in any season.
 With temperatures in the mid 30's, there were plenty of other people out enjoying the fresh air.
 Trails through the open fields were mostly broken in and made for nice walking.
 The beautiful countryside makes for a very enjoyable and popular walk.
 A great view of the rolling hills of Columbia County to the east.
 A gazebo atop a hill on the winding trails provides fantastic views.
 Even though I've walked these trails many, many times, it is still one of my favorite places for a nice, easy stroll.
 There are several benches placed throughout the Conservation Area, that make for nice places to relax.
 Bright skies.
 Winterberry tree near the pond.
Although it was only in the 30's, the bright sun and lack of wind made it feel like a true spring day!  Walked about 2 miles RT.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Frozen Solid

As the sun sets on yet another cold February day, the temperatures begin to plummet through the single digits and on their way below zero tonight.  Wonder how long it's going to take to melt these snowbanks at Walmart parking lot in Pittsfield, Massachusetts?

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Dorothy Frances Rice Wildlife Sanctuary(Berkshires)

Got out of work early today and headed east to the Dorothy Rice Sanctuary for Wildlife in Peru, Massachusetts, high up in the eastern Berkshires.  To locate the Sanctuary, you follow Route 143 east from Hinsdale to Peru center, where you turn right onto South Road and follow it until you arrive at the trailhead marked by a gate and sign with trail maps.
The trail continues on Rice Road past the gate, which is only open to foot traffic.
 A large beaver pond is located on the left a short distance up Rice Road.
 After about .4 of a mile, you arrive at the Rice cottage which sits in the shadow of a large red spruce.
 A large informative trail map can be found near the cottage across an open field.
 An old stone well.
 One look at this picnic table gives an idea of how deep the snow pack is at this higher elevation.
 Crystal clear blue skies made for a very welcome sight today, giving us a break to our continuous onslaught of winter weather.  The bright sun did its best to warm things up into the mid and upper 20s.
 The elevation at the Sanctuary basically ranges from about 1950 feet to 2150 feet with many different trail options winding through deep woods.
 Most of the trails in the eastern section of the Sanctuary were buried in deep snow and I had to break trail, making for a slow go.
 An open hardwood forest.
 The very southern section of the property drops down through evergreens and across a small stream.
 The trails in the northern section seem more popular and are mostly all broken in, making for very easy walking.
Snowshoe hiked a total of 4.9 miles on a beautiful, sunny February afternoon.  Saw a few other folks out enjoying the relatively nice weather soaking in the fresh mountain air.