Sunday afternoon we found some free time to get out and exercise. We were limited to local options. We chose Willard Brook state forest because we had never visited it before. The hike was a mix of hiking trails and gated dirt roads. The gates looked promising because that should have ment no snowmobiles and thus excellent crosscountry ski options. However, we saw snowmobile and four wheeler evidence all over.
We started on the trail up the river and took lots of pictures of small cascades and ice on rocks. It is a pleasant river gorge with lots of laurel that we should come back to see when it is in bloom. I kept putting my microspikes on and taking them off. There were stretches of ice intermixed with dry dirt and leaves. Neither option seemed to work great.
Then we decided to get more serious about the exercise part and take the one trail with mileage across the forest and then a series of dirt roads back. On the map and on the signs, this trail is marked as “2 1/2 hours. Only people in good condition should attempt this trail.” I pointed this and the fact that we only had an hour and a bit until sunset out to Tyson, but he wanted the exercise and who knows what pace the 2.5 hours was calculated from. That trail was nicely laid out. It would not work as a ski trail, but we should definitely come back when the laurel is in bloom. The map only shows the one trail going through the forest, but we saw all sorts of other unmarked trails branching off. There was no risk of getting lost since the blazes were every 3 meters or so. Up near the height of land, we came across two signs attached to a tree. They faced both way on the trail and said “This is the half way point. Consider how long it has taken you to get this far.” I guess they have issues with folks getting stuck out there.
We got to see a lovely full moon rise. Once we hit the roads, we had to pay attention to make sure we picked up the right dirt road given that there were several unmarked ones. We put our microspikes on full time so we did not have to worry about the intermittent ice in the dark. Stay left at the fork, watch for the merging path on the left, keep left, then take the second right. There were some blazes at the intersections. The second right had blazes which indicated that the right road went well west of our car, and other blazes which indicated we had merged with the orange trail which we shouldn’t have. We pulled out the compass, did some guessing and determined that we must have been at the third right. So we turned around looking for the second right. First we found not a road, than a short side road that dead ends at a pond, and then a really big intersection. How could we have missed that? Oh, right, I thought that was right number one. Well, maybe we missed right number one and this was right number two. Some map inspection followed. If it was right number two, we just follow it and don’t take any forks to the right. If it was right number one, we take the next left, or we get stuck walking back the highway.
Turned out it was right number two and we were shortly back at our car.