The Crooked Canes Journal


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Schaeffer Trail Hike ~ Dec 4, 2015

Journal entry by Kurt Wisell



As we set out from WCMC, the weather was not very close to what NOAA's dream was. Instead of partly cloudy, there was ominous cloud cover, mist and fine drizzle. As we passed the North Creek Stewarts, our very dubious beginning morphed into delight in the form of a suddenly dry windshield and much less ominous sky. Coming over the hill with a view of Gore, white could be seen at the higher elevations we planned to hike suggesting that micro spikes ought to be in our packs but probably wouldn't be used.

Meeting at the trail head a few minutes later we discovered, after multiple people counted multiple times that we had a group of nineteen. Great turnout for a re-scheduled outing on a cool damp day. From the trail head, we followed the Schaeffer trail upward finding numerous bike and XC ski trail crossings, all part of Steve Ovitt's trail building initiative and the ADK Cold River chapter's continuing efforts in the town's Ski Bowl Park area. As we climbed and traversed the section of trail along Roaring Brook, we were treated to views of waterfalls and cascades in near perfect viewing form with water high enough to be very scenic and low enough that close inspection was easily possible. Closing in on Gore Mountain's snowmaking reservoir, we began to see traces of snow on the ground and once at dam, often a nice place for a casual lunch, we encountered a pretty good breeze. Wet snow on the ground and a stiff damp breeze made it easy for all of us to decide a retreat to lower elevation out of the snow and wind was a pretty good idea. Not yet noon and with Rabbit Pond a half hour or so away, we decided to descend by that route.

Rabbit Pond can be a scenic place when beaver are present and have a good dam. After a number of years without beaver, we were pleased to see that Rabbit, like Berry Pond, had recently experienced a renaissance. The scenic lunch opportunity was not passed up. Young, energetic, new-school beavers have raised the water level to a couple of feet higher than it has been in a decade. Two smaller dams had been built below the main dam and a new lodge has been built near the shore at the south end, close enough for Don to hop on top of and claim the guest suite as his winter ski in ski out burrow. The new-school beavers, in addition to being aggressive builders are also sensitive, in a positive way, to recreational use of their property. Of a handful of standing trees anywhere flooded by the pond, they made sure to leave one with a trail marker on it about 50 feet from the new shore. There was just enough ice left on the pond to practice good hiking etiquette by following the trail markers so long as one's weight did not exceed that of a mouse. We opted to follow a herd path along the shore, reconnecting with the trail at the dam.

After a casual lunch break, we headed back into the woods to complete our descent back to Ski Bowl Park and the trail head. Soon after starting out we entered the Billings Brook back country ski trail system, passing through a mile or so of generally open hardwood forest on gradual grade to the intersection of the Ski Bowl Connector trail which would take us back to the trail head. Passing through more areas of beaver activity, pretty woods, along scenic streams and near the bottom on road-width trail, several attractive homes that are the beginning of the Ski Bowl Village, we emerged onto the bottom of the ski trails. Some weasel mentioned that there was a weasel in the woods nearby that we all just had to visit, so off we went to see a few vestiges of early skiing history of North Creek. Passing vintage snow roller parts, we came upon the famed Weasel, sitting motionless as it has for decades. What sort of weasel sits motionless for decades? A long lost Studebaker M29 Weasel! Wikipedia has some good history of this early tracked vehicle, many of which found their way to ski areas after military service in WWII. This Weasel, painted red, became a stage for a grinning playful Wannabe Santa named Rich, who with dreams of magical sleighs dancing in his head hopped right aboard.

Meanwhile, Jan and Jim, after yesterday's emails and today's 5 hour indoctrination in the virtues of Sara streaked to downtown North Creek hoping to find Sara. Don't let your eyebrows stretch too far as "Streaked" in this instance carries the connotation "hurried along in their car like a blue streak without even taking their packs off!"

A fun trip with something new for everyone! Thanks for coming along Lenore & Jack, Jan & Jim, Pat & Mike, two guys named Rich, Joy, Don, Margie, Jim, Lynn, Joy, Ray, Dennis, Fran, Barbara and Linda.

11 photos



The gang's all here at a Roaring Brook cascade. Note two of the tallest people right up front struggling uncomfortably to impersonate the shortest!



Joy, serenaded by a waterfall along the babbling brook.



A little lingering ice along the babbling brook.



Munching Canes scattered along the sylvan shore of Rabbit Pond.



New-school beavers make their homes available for recreational users. Note the trail marker on the tree.



Don's new ski in-ski out winter digs. It's only the guest room but plush for a ski bum.



A tall dam. The white streak across the center of the photo is the pond surface.



Usually it's a picture of a mushroom with the caption "This one's for you Ray" but this time it's "This rub's for you Peter Wood!"



Top: Wannabe Santa Rich in his Magic Sleigh Bottom: The Studebaker M29 Weasel in better days



Not to be outdone, another Rich tries to horn in on Wannabe #1's sleigh action. Check out the grins!



Ray is still dusting off the iron hydroxide from the Rock Pond hike on October 30th. Sure hope Carolyn doesn't figure out that Ray is still tracking this muck into the house!



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