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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Only a Few Miles- But O So Good

I got to add 4 new miles to my North Country Quest today. I was a tiny bit concerned about doing this hike. The plan was only for four miles, but I knew that they would be in completely unbroken snow, which can be very difficult to cover, even in snowshoes. I've done more than that several times in the past, but shhhh, I'm not getting any younger it's not good to take on high risk situations when you are alone. I wasn't worried about getting lost, even if I lost the trail. I could always just go straight north till I hit the road my car was on. Nevertheless, I hoped to stay on the trail. The trick with following the trail is that in the winter you can't see the treadway, so it is imperative that the trail marking be well maintained. Now, I would like to tell you that every yard of the NCT is clearly marked, but that would be a big fat lie little tiny fib.

A friend helped me put my car at one road crossing, and then drove me around to the other one, four trail miles away. Into the woods I went, following the blue blazes painted on trees. When the snow is deep you can't see the trail at all, so you must be able to see the next blaze from the one you are at, or you can lose the trail. I am happy to tell you that I did find the actual trail all the way through to my car. There were a couple of places where I couldn't see a blaze (can you find it in the top picture?), but having a fair amount of experience at guessing at trail-ish spaces helped me along until I found a blaze.

Oh, and I feel pretty good for several reasons. I have added four miles to my total, which is now 3518 miles of NCT. I had allowed four hours to cover the four miles, and actually I covered them in 2 hours and 50 minutes. I am not completely "dead"- hips are a little stiff, but otherwise all is well (and I'm safely home).

The pictures below are just a few details that I enjoyed: a strip of birch bark, flowers of the witch hazel (it blooms in the fall and the yellow-brown flowers persist all winter), and one painted blue blaze surrounded by moss on a tree. It's funny how you sometimes don't see things when you look at them. In the woods I saw a blaze with moss. At home, looking at the picture, I see an eye with a bushy white eyebrow and funny blue war paint!

See more at Four Miles in Tittabawassee Land
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Ratty said...

I always wondered what those markings on the trees were for. I never thought to ask anyone. I talk to the park officials all the time, but never ask those kind of things unless something like that is volunteered.

Sharkbytes said...

Hi Ratty- Well, marks on trees can mean a number of things. The most likely are boundary markings, and timber harvesting markings. Trail blazes, at least for our trail, are supposed to be 2x6 inches with nice crisp corners. The one I pictured doesn't quite meet that standard, but I was happy enough to see messy ones. (the other choice being none at all)

rainfield61 said...

I love to see flowers which persists through terrible winter.
I can have wild imagination and story from that......

Sharkbytes (TM) said...

Thanks rainfield- The witch hazel is quite an oddity among trees because it does bloom in the fall. It's never showy, but there for those who wish to look.

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