Breaking trail is hard to do. I drove over to Pawtuckaway State Park this morning for a snowshoe hike with Kodi. Our destination was North Mountain - a favorite route that leads past Round Pond and another unnamed wetland, and through a huge boulder field, before beginning an ascent up the North Ridge.
The first leg of our hike followed along a woods road to Round Pond. A snowmobile had passed through recently, providing a well-packed trail for us both. At Round Pond the trail heads north and no one had snowshoed that way recently. A faint snowshoe track was visible, but it was left before the last storm of a foot or more of new snow. So, Kodi and I started breaking trail. At first Kodi led the way. Then he grew tired of the deep snow and followed along behind. Before leaving home I added the "tails" to my MSR snowshoes. These provide more flotation when breaking trail in deep powdery snow.
The woods were quiet, with only the whispering of the wind among the hemlocks. A breeze dislodged clumps of snow from the hemlock boughs. The snow drifted down like puffs of white smoke.
We crossed the path of an otter trail that led from one wetland to another.We huffed and puffed to the base of the first steep, rocky pitch. No one had gone that way recently. The trail was buried in snow. Kodi turned back and I followed. Neither of us were inclined to tackle the ridge. We hiked back the way we came, our way easier now as we retraced our own tracks.
I paused beside huge boulders, some as tall as a house. The glacier plucked these huge boulders from other parts of North Mountain and dropped them here. Rock climbers descend on this boulder field in fair weather, to practice bouldering and climbing. Today, it was just Kodi and me among the boulders, in the Devil's Den and along the Yellow Dog Wall.
We paused at Round Pond for a snack until Kodi caught a scent that he did not like. Tail down, he trotted down the trail, back toward the car. I gathered up my pack and once again turned to follow Kodi. He kept his tail down for some distance, perhaps until the scent was no longer in the air. And that is our snowshoe tale for today.