Last week I wandered into the woods on my favorite local running trail for a practice hike. While it was passable, it was still snow stacked on ice. A week later, it was a completely different trail, thanks to warming temperatures and a couple of short rain events.
The pictures aren’t nearly as dramatic in portraying the differences as actual foot-on-terrain time was.
In just seven days time, a tiptoe trek atop the snow and ice transitioned to a slog through slush, soft snowpack, mud and mini lakes. Several times I postholed in snow nearly to my knees, only to go ankle deep in mud and water just a few feet later. It was a good and enjoyable workout, thanks in part to my usual load in the Kestrel.
Even the weather was markedly different. The previous week’s tramp through the trees featured temps in the mid-30s with wind chills ten degrees colder. Seven days later? 60 degrees. And both hikes started at 10:00AM and peppered me with similar 10-20MPH winds, so the compare/contrast is pretty accurate. Last week I was buried under my typical multi-layer cold weather wear. This week I hiked in shorts. I always enjoy hiking in shorts while walking on/through snow. It’s such a surreal and fun experience, especially after a long winter.
The AT out of Monson gets more snow than we do, and has more substantial tree cover than this trail. Translation? It will be a few more weeks before I can launch a day hike on that significantly more difficult terrain. But I am so looking forward to it. I think it’s safe to say that, after a seemingly endless five months, my spring hiking season has nearly arrived!