Marys Peak: summer in winter

January 24, 2014.

East Ridge > Summit > Meadow’s Edge Loop and back | 7.4 mi | 1530′ ele. gain | 4 hr.

I laced up my barefoot style running shoes, pulled on a pair of shorts over some thin tights, made sure I had my sunglasses, and hit the trail. IN JANUARY.

It was mild, to make a big understatement. The air was a little cool, sure, but this was the dead of winter. I felt like I had hit a nice day in early autumn. I was not complaining, but I was concerned. Could this be true? Could I leave all my winter gear at home?

I’d been up here in a range of conditions from bluebird summertime jaunts to bitter cold, icy winter treks. People go sledding up here in the winter and you typically need snowshoes or at least Yaktrax to negotiate the slippery snow slopes in the meadows this time of year. So it was a bit of an anomaly.

I made good time getting up the East Ridge Trail. In about an hour I made it to the upper parking area, where some kind souls had hand-drawn a mountain finder on a blank signboard:

Crude, but pretty accurate!

I hiked up the road to the summit. Pretty windy up there today, but views went on for miles. There was a haze in the area: a purple haze…

After basking in the sun for a bit I dropped back into the woods to meander along the Meadows Edge Loop. The East Ridge never feels like enough of a walk. Besides, it’s pretty and no one hikes there.

I trotted among the tall trees, soft ferns and colorful fungi. My Merrell shoes let me feel all the bumps beneath my feet. In a forest like this, though, the trail surface was soft and cushy. It was a great place to enjoy in minimal footwear.

Back at the trailhead, I felt very well-prepared to lead this hike again tomorrow. So much for a scouting mission. I’ll tell everyone to dress for summer.

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