If you are not planning to do a full out and back hike (or even a partial out and back) I would encourage you to work with a group of people to stage vehicles at each end of the trail.
I have done this hike a few times and each time I have failed to meet my goal of completing the entire section at one time. My last attempt was a 8 mile hike out and back during the summer.
It’s now late February and it has been an incredible winter so there is plenty of snow to try out my snowshoes. It’s been a while since I’ve been out on snowshoes, but its always fun and a great workout.
Previously, I’ve done this hike alone. For this trip, my friend and fellow outdoor guide, Tim will be joining me. The plan is to meet at the Holland Willows Restaurant, leave a vehicle there and then drive to the Carpenter Road parking area and hike from the North to South.
In the week leading up to our planned expedition, there has been more snow, especially in the areas around the trail so I decide to check social media to see if anyone I know has been on the trail recently.
Upon further research I found the following picture from Deborah Smith showing that the ravines had indeed received a large amount of snow in the last few days.
|Photo Courtesy of Deborah Smith|
I immediately texted Tim the picture and we quickly decided that hiking the entire trail in snowshoes may have to wait for another day. However, we are still going to give it our best.
Overnight, another snowstorm rolls through and I hear that the Holland Ravines area has gotten even more snow. During my drive south, it doesn't seem that bad, until I exit the 400 and get into the town of Holland. There is more snow than in the pictures from yesterday. Overall, the fresh snow is now somewhere in the range of 3-4 feet.
We met at Holland Willows restaurant the next morning and prepared for our hike. A short walk up the hill to the trail head and we finally see just how much snow awaits us.
The trail is pristine, not a single track anywhere in sight and the snowplows have done a great job at building up a wall of snow on the side of the road. After a few minutes of figuring out how to best navigate the wall in snowshoes we are finally breaking trail on the path.
|Tim blazing the trail|
Our snowshoes are sinking 10-12 inches with each step that we take, but it’s a beautiful day out and we want to go as far as we can. The revised plan is to travel to the dedication marker and back to the parking lot for a total of just under 7 miles. We continue on and make it to the first road crossing, taking time to remove our shoes before crossing and then continuing on to the next track.
|The trail after crossing|
Along the way, my body reminds me that it has been far to long since I’ve done this but I’m enjoying every minute of it. Then I do what we all will do at some point in snowshoes. I step on one of my shoes with my other foot and promptly find myself sitting in the snow.
I am certain that Tim was doing his best to suppress a laugh or two as I spent the next few minutes trying to figure out how to get back up, but I manage, and we continue on the trail.
After an hour or so, we finally reach the first incline to the ravines. I know there are stairs here, but I’m not seeing them. Side-stepping or sliding might be the best way down. But I know we have to cross the water in spots as well.
|Breaking trails is hard work...|
Until next time…