Wheaton Hill – Blazing a Trail on Snowshoes

A snowshoe trail along the Pine Trail off Wheaton HillThirteen hikers on snowshoes created a narrow path in the deep snow on the Pine Trail in the DEC Hemlock/Canadice State Forest just off Wheaton Hill Road this past Sunday.  Outfitted with an assortment of hand clippers, hand saws, loppers and other types of sharp cutting tools, Springwater Trails working under the DEC’s ANRP (Adopt a Natural Resource Program)  attacked the multiflora rose branches that invaded the trail, hand sawed and removed visable downed trees that blocked the trail, and created a packed path to a beautiful snow covered waterfall and along the gully ridge. Luckily Mac and Duff didn’t find the dead deer buried under the 12 inches of snow, Mark didn’t cut his finger off with the handsaw, and Marty found his missing borrowed snowshoe.  Lost clippers buried deep in the snow will be found in the Spring.

Georgia identified Hemlock trees, different types of berry branches that had already showed signs of early spring budding, and there were many discussions regarding how to properly remove or eradicate invasive multiflora rose bushes in the Spring.  Trim the rosesAccording to Cornell, the bushes should be cut to the ground at least 3 times a year, and the roots sprayed with round up.  (?)  Anyone who has tried to remove these very sharp branches that will not only rip your clothing up, tangle in your hair, or create deep scratches or wounds, will attest to this invasive nightmare of a plant.  But for some reason, being in a deep snow, in a beautiful forest, with hikers working together, the cutting seemed very easy and the path that was created will allow  other winter enthusiasts to enjoy the trail.

Thinking about moving the tree.Walking along the ridge of the gully on an unmarked path allowed hikers to create a loop on the pine trail and to explore the ridge down to a location on Rt. 15A.  The return loop trail is marked by an orange ribbon and due to time limits we were unable to complete our trail work except for removing a tree that crossed the trail.  This one isolated project took 6 people and 3 hand saws to remove a 12 inch pine off the trail.  In the Spring, when a few of our hikers have taken the Game of Logging and CPR,  these cutting tasks will be a little easier with chain saws, and not having to carry loppers around the neck on snowshoes.

The whole groupAfter Hike Social was just up the road on South Old Bald Hill Road at Bob and Joan’s “chalet” where homemade lentil and butternut squash soup and other pre New Year’s Eve dishes were enjoyed by all.  Joan and Bob made a toast  to celebrate the new year to our hiking friends and a happy, healthy 2013 hiking season. Thanks Bob and Joan for being our hosts and  Happy New Year to all!


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