Breaking Trail in Randolph 3/20

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Sep 3, 2003
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Gorham NH
I had the afternoon off yesterday so I decided to go break some trail in Randolph. The first part of the hike was up through my lot that is near Lookout Ledge. The banks along Durand Road are quite impressive, at the end of my access road, they were higher than my Ford Fiesta. I had broken out a trail up a short distance last weekend to access some beeches that needed girdling. The trail was packed but had not hardened up as the despite a few sunny days the temps really havent contributed to much freeze thaw. I had my MSR lightnings on which have reasonable size footprint and smoothed out the path a bit. I have poles with snwo baskets on them but they too would sink 10 to 12". Once I switched to unbroken snow, the fun started. The lot faces south with few softwoods so there is plenty of sun on the snow but it really has no crust. Snow depth is in the 3' range down low and increases as I went up. In most spots I sunk in 10 to 12" inches, but in occasional spots I would posthole with the snow shoes 2 to 3'. The upper layer of the snow was a bit damp so I had to kick off occasional clumps. Not many signs of wildlife, a few squirrel tracks and possibly a fox track up high. As usual I didnt see any deer sign, they must still be yarding somewhere in the softwoods as they would be punching down through the snow in the hardwoods. As I headed up the snow got deeper. Its borderline dense powder but most of the time kick stepping got me up the slope. Eventually I popped out on the Ledge Trail between Notch Way and Pasture Path. I was quite surprised, the Ledge trail was not broken out and there was no signs of any travel. I headed west on the Ledges trail and got to the Pasture Path junction. Pasture Path is the normal popular trail to Lookout Ledge as it has minimal elevation and usually is one of the earlier trails to be broken out in Randolph. Not today, it too was unbroken. I had a turn around time so I didnt go much past the junction and ended up turning around just as the trail rises quickly into the softwoods. The sun had not gotten in there as well as the in the hardwoods and the snow was decidedly more powdery and kick stepping was a bit more challenging. I expect the new backcountry glade that was cut last year up on Mt Crescent has a lot of happy skiers.

The great thing about winter and hardwoods are the views are lot more open. The views of Madison, Adams and into the boulder field at the base of Kings Ravine are great even if I didnt make it over to the ledge. I followed my tracks back to where I had popped out on the Ledge Trail and headed down my bushwhack route. I expect someone breaking trail this weekend is going to wonder where the snowshoe track came from. For a short portion its a beeline through the Randolph Town Forest but once it hits my property it follows my recently blazed property line.

General observations of the hike is its definitely still winter conditions up north. No signs of crust. I expect that if someone tried to bareboot my packed trail they would be in for a surprise and wouldn't make it very far as I don't think it would hold up a barebooter. I expect they would go crotch deep fairly quickly. It is great time of the year to roam the woods as all the underbrush and boulders is locked down by the snow, although the snow pack adds some challenge moving around. The scary part is all this snow is going to end up running down in the valleys soon and if we have warm spell it could go quick.

Overall a nice day for a short hike.