Last Monday afternoon at 3:30 p.m. I saw a break in my desk work and knew I needed some outdoor time. My daughter and I headed for the Bobcat Trail in Wadhams knowing we only had about 90 minutes of daylight. The Bobcat Trail is one of the early ones cut by Champlain Area Trails and it's really satisfying to hike or ski. There is easy parking at the bend on Ferris Road. The trail begins up through what is a beautiful meadow that's covered in snow for the moment.
On Monday trail conditions were perfect. There was a snowmobile trail off to one side and then a nice evenly packed pair of ski tracks. Heading up into the woods takes you to an amusing landmark—a fire hydrant. My guess is that it relates to the sense of humor of the folks who allowed this trail to cross their property. From the hydrant the trail winds on mostly level ground through the forest. Under the hemlocks it was dark and a little mysterious. I could sense owls perched above our heads although I couldn't see any.
As the trail continues you can look through the woods down to a string of beaver ponds. There were tracks everywhere—more than I could examine without slowing down the expedition and using up the daylight. I did notice lots of snowshoe hare tracks with coyote tracks not far behind. I've seen snow shoe hares on Poke-o-Moonshine and on the higher Split Rock trails but not down this low.
Skiing along we could differentiate the beaver ponds from the snowy fields by the number of sticks poking up with chiseled peaks (made from the beavers chewing down the trees). The view up to Sprig Mountain showed some open spots where there are interesting ledges.
The trail ends with a choice to finish in the woods or across the open meadow. We broke trail across the meadow, through the winter silhouettes of seed heads from all the summer wildflowers. Queen Anne's lace and asters and milkweed all make pretty black ornaments against the white snow.
We reached the Walker Road in about 40 minutes and turned around to see the last of the sun on the hilltop at 4:20. Five minutes later my daughter's ski binding snapped. With temperature around 20 and sunlight waning very quickly, I made a hasty rig out of a strong shoelace in my pack. We didn't lose much time and she was able to slide along double poling and using the good ski like a scooter. We got back to the car by 5:00 with enough daylight to pack up easily.
Even on outings that I expect will be short I never regret having my pack. In addition to the makeshift repair material, I know I have a head lamp and extra layers and a snack. Remember: safety first so your memories of the Bobcat Trail remain happy ones.