October 30, 2005.
10 mi | 7.5 hr
Davis Path > Mt. Crawford > Resolution Ledges
I met my hiking partner, Dr. Wu, at 5 am for an early drive up to the mountains. Daylight Savings Time had just kicked in so this early morning felt especially bright.
At the trailhead I packed all my gear in a larger backpack that I’d borrowed. Due to the unreasonable amount of snow we’d gotten in the past couple of weeks I brought poles, (borrowed) snowshoes and much more cold weather clothing than I usually bring. This would be a good preview of what winter hiking is like.
The Davis Path ascends right from the start. I could feel the extra weight immediately. I also had new boots on, as well as an unfamiliar pack. The hike up to Crawford was unusually draining. It seemed tougher than it should have been!
I was dressed for cold, with long underwear beneath ski pants and several upper body layers. I quickly heated up and had to de-layer during several rest stops.
Eventually we reached bits of snow and ice which gradually turned into quite a bit of snow and ice. The top of Crawford was cold and windy. We dropped our packs, had a snack and took some photos. The wind felt cool on my face but it was just so awesome to be up there. We walked down on a path below the summit to get out of the wind but keep the views. The surrounding highpoints were all covered in a blanket of snow.
Feeling accomplished, we continued towards Mt. Resolution. We put Yaktrax on to help with traction on the snow. It took a few minutes for me to get used to walking on them and a few more minutes for my partner’s to break! This was only the beginning of equipment malfunctions.
The snow kept getting deeper and heavier. Fortunately we could follow a set of footprints already left in the snow. Snow dumped down on us from branches above. The sun kept getting warmer, softening the snow and making it harder and harder to walk. My partner was not prepared for the soaking effects of the melting snow and his clothing was getting pretty wet. I was happily dry in my waterproof pants and boots. But, I kept reminding him that I was okay to turn around any time!
The heavy snow created a mess of blown down trees and bowed branches across the trail. Our progress got slower and slower. When we reached the next trail junction we stopped to put on snowshoes. This took me some time but I got used to wearing them fairly quickly. It was fun! Tromping through the snow, kicking into ice, whipping out the hiking poles…I felt like a pro. We eventually reached the ledges of Mt. Resolution and took in the views there. Due to the constant fight with the snow, we decided this would be our turnaround point.
My partner grumpily led the way as I carefully followed behind him. The ice was slippery in spots so I took my time.
We left our snowshoes on until they became totally unnecessary. We walked over snow, slush, rock and running water. In the midst of a stream, we took them off. I found them mostly useful on the trail with one exception: negotiating over and around blowdowns.
As the temperature rose, the trail dried out and at once we emerged into a perfect autumn forest. The yellow and red leaves were crisp and pretty. This idyllic scene continued to amaze me all the way back to the car.
That was the hardest work I’d ever done for a 10-mile hike, ever. It was worth all the exhaustion. Bring on winter!