Now the paper said we officially got 2.2 inches of snow. I am here to tell you unofficially that they don't know what they are talking about or they used a broken yardstick. When I walked out on Monday morning I knew we had somewhere near eight inches. My back confirmed this estimate with every shovelful I lifted and tossed aside. Later I got my ruler and took a depth sample out in the center yard away from any drifts and we came in at 7.5 inches. The drifts along the East side of my drive were maybe a foot and half.
My bosses had called the night before and told me not to come to work, so I didn't have to fight the roads, however our street looked pretty good on early Monday morning. We do have good snow removal and I had heard the plows up and down in the night. I saw their lights flashing too during that 4:00 AM power failure.
This was enough to entice us to try going to our favorite restaurant as we do every Monday for dinner. The lower exit street from our development was a mess despite the plowing attempts and we went the long way by major roads, but we got there, had a nice meal and made it home.
First thing I discovered was the lower street was worse today than last night. What ever might have melted had refroze. I came to the first stop sign and it was immediately apparent I wasn't going to stop. I pushed the brake and the car just kept going, so I got off the petal quickly before it turned into a skid.
My logic was thus: Rockwood is a museum, they give tours of the old house. It also has a conference center in the old carriage house where businesses meet and social affairs are held. They probably will have their drive and parking lots plowed, perhaps even the main paths.
None of the pathways had been cleared, but I could see some people had chosen to walk the trails anyway. I set off following the tracks left by these others since this was the only way to see where the paths actually were.
I circled about the first trees then paused to take a photo of the mansion in the snow.
The snow was deep and I could feel the effort to walk in my ankles already. It was apparent from the footprints that perhaps a half dozen others had traipsed through here the day before, at least a couple on skis.
It was beautiful up on the hill, pristine out across the meadows and very quiet. I was very much alone. The tracks were obviously from yesterday and I was not to meet another soul today.
It was just a matter now of how far I wished to go and if it were safe to do so. And as usual I didn't think to grab my cell phone. I did remember my camera. After all, first things first in preparedness.
In fact, I was curious to see if I wanted to go down the back trail and up into the woods myself, especially if I found only undisturbed snow once I got there. I had already misjudged once and slipped trippingly off the trail.
If no one left me any guidelines this could become way too common.
But it wasn't long until I had my answer. These people did continue back into the wooded area. It also became clear they didn't always know where the trail was either. At places they wandered off into deep ruts on the ground where you sank a foot or more into the white stuff.
It isn't foolproof because at certain places it is a long way between these posts and you have to judge by the tree lines. Here again I slipped off the edge.
Remember, I was trying to stay over out of the former tracks because they were hard and slippery.
One can, I didn't.
As noted before, I didn't feel cold, although by now my fingertips were numbing. I don't like the restrictiveness of gloves, so seldom slip them on when I walk. I didn't have my hood up for the same reason.
By this point I had crested the big hill and reached the side trail that would go down the steep side. I could have chosen to call it a hike at this point and headed back to the parking lot, but now that I was here I felt I should go on.
I paused here and looked up the unpaved, hidden trail to the gazebo. It is really hidden now, although you can see the gazebo atop the high point of the hill.
I was almost tempted to break that unbroken snow and go up to it; almost, but not quite and I just went on down the paved hill to the road below.
Now the question comes. Shall I cross the road and like the proverbial chicken get to the other side or shall I call it far enough in this mush?
I crossed the road, of course.
I do not know where the hikers and skiers of Rockwood went, but only one person was brave enough to cross through Bringhurst Woods before me.
There was a lone series of footprints ahead. One person and a dog had come through here yesterday. I knew it was yesterday because the prints had frozen into ice clusters.
Then suddenly the tracks disappeared. No tracks went down the loop where I met the wood poacher last Sunday and no tracks went straight ahead across the gravel of the old parking lot. No tracks went up to the road where a car might have been waiting. No frozen bodies lay about either.
Here on the other side is where the loop came up to meet me. Standing here it seems this portion of the loop is partially clear of any snow and just touched mostly by a thin dusting.
One might be tempted on the return trip to pioneer the loop, take what would entice as an easier, drier, warmer walk.
After struggling though deep stuff for so long, who could or should resist this tempting walk?
Yes, shine and by that shine you see this dusting in nothing of the sort.
It is a crust of ice.
The possibility exists that beneath the snow further down on the loop there is a continuation of ice beneath and this could be a good place to take a sudden fall.
There are other animal tracks here. I can't tell if the person had two dogs with him all along or if some other beast had run along this trail in the night.
There were actually quite a few animals tracks of various shapes and sizes crisscrossing the path and zig-zagging though the trees. Some of these tracks were very large, much bigger than a dog or perhaps fox would make. Maybe deer had been here last night?
One thing takes me by surprise as I top the hill.
There is a little side path here off the main trail. It doesn't go far, it just circles off in the woods a bit and back to the main trail again.
I always walk that little circle and no one else seems to. Today I plan to follow my lone leader and expect I will not be doing the circle, but to my wonderment, his tracks go down that side path. So do I, as usual.
I plan now to go my full route. I will cross the next road and enter Bellevue State Park and see how far I can walk into it.
I usually walk into this park, turn up a path that will take me to the great center oval, cut across the bridal path between great evergreens, then back to the Northern Greenway Trail.
This is where I first met Hemingway, the cat.
The sidewalk isn't cleared and heavy with snow, probably drifted because of the nearby fencerow.
I wonder what conditions will greet me inside the gate.
When I finally enter the park through the wall I find they have swept the paths of snow.
Yes, they blew the snow off the bellevue walkways and paths. None of the other parks had made any attempt to clear their trails. And in doing so the paths here became more dangerous than the rest.
Over night wet patches left on the paths here had frozen and created little slippery booby traps. Every other step I took found me skidding.
I returned, though, with the joy of the walk and the satisfaction to see normalcy returned.
I climbed back up Rockwood Hill and down the steep path.
Here was the other rugged path up to the gazebo and I was amazed to see someone had taken it. The prints were small, certainly not a man's. They may have been those of a small woman or a child. The prints went up and returned down the same way.
Those are my tracks running down the center. It was an interesting experience for the terrain was uneven and here and there were deep pockets where I sank to the kneecaps.
Eventually I came home. I stripped off my thoroughly wet shoes and socks, putting on a dry pair of socks. Then I sat down with a hot cup of coffee feeling great.