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Friday, December 18, 2020

Snowshoe Day! at Tobyhanna Lake

 Snowshoe Day!  The Snowmaggedon brought over 18 inches of snow to our area in the Pocono Mountains, and we were prepared.  We had the snowshoes out and fitted to our new winter snow boots.  We shoveled our driveway yesterday, and we were ready to hit the snow this morning:

The last time we snowshoed was about 18 months ago -- March 2019 when we snowshoed in to Lexington Arch in Great Basin National Park in Nevada.  If you're curious about that adventure, you can read about it here.

We weren't the first ones through the snow.  We could see evidence of one cross-country skier who had navigated the trail clockwise (opposite to our direction) -- probably yesterday when the snow was fresh -- and one hiker who barebooted it, taking care to use the skier's tracks to minimize postholing, as the wind off the lake created some drifts as deep as 30 inches.  We wore orange as a precaution against hunters, although deer season has ended.

Ruthie Puppy's bench is always a favorite stop when we hike around Tobyhanna Lake.  We like to compare views as the seasons progress.  Last time we hiked around the lake -- in the snow -- the surface of the lake was already frozen, except where springs fed up and revealed themselves through the ice; this time, the snow, ice and cold were too much, even for the springs, and everything was frozen -- although the springs still revealed themselves with thinner, dirty ice which contrasted with the snow-covered thicker ice that dominated on the lake:

The trees here are mainly bare -- having died and dried and fallen some weeks ago.  Still, some leaves hung on desperately to some smaller trees and bushes.  One leaf must even have given up its grip late in the snowfall.  It lay, expired under the slightest dusting of snow:

Another favorite place around the lake is the wetland formed by Tobyhanna Creek as it feeds into the lake.  We looked upstream, marvelling at the dirty ice marking the channel of the stream --

-- and awestruck by the melted channel formed by the current of the creek as it flowed past us and on into the lake:

Our total trek was 5.5 miles.  We decided to split our lunch into two shorter food stops, at the two- and four-mile marks, thinking that we would digest our meal better if it were in two smaller portions -- and thinking, too, that we could use a couple of longer stops.  We had hot Jasmine Green Tea (Kathy's with honey) to warm us at our meals.  We were ready for Lunch No. 1 when we reached the 2-mile mark:

The trail stretching behind us, where we lunched, was representative of what we saw through the entire hike:

Very subtle splashes of color appear in unlikely places, but they stand out against the India ink sketch that is the forest in snow:

Miles 3 and 4 were hard.  Lunch No. 2 came just about when we would have needed to stop anyway to give our backs, hips, feet and cold fingers and toes a break.  Kathy grinned with excitement as she contemplated putting toe warmers in her boots.

But we only had a mile left to hike, so our second meal energized us, and we hopped off down the trail, feeling a little more spring in our step.  It wasn't long before we arrived at the spillway, where, halfway through our last mile, we paused to hydrate (we had to hydrate every half mile because the snowshoeing was so aerobic and generated enormous heat and perspiration):

Our walk along the spillway dam gave us one final panorama of Tobyhanna Lake before we headed down the woodsy backstretch to the boat ramp parking lot where we had left the Jeep:

That last shot of peanut butter and tea perked up our senses, and David spotted another small detail to record for blogging posterity:

Reaching the boat ramp parking lot, we looked past the lonely, snow-laden rental boats toward the fishing dock where -- surprisingly -- we found no one fishing:

We would like to say that we paused to enjoy the lake one last minute or two before sadly turning to our Jeep to drive home.  But the truth is that we were exhausted and ready to sit down and couldn't wait to jump back in the car.  This was four hours of very intense exercise, and we were ready to embrace our recliners and spend the rest of the day deciding what to say about the hike as we wrote this blog.

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