When I bought my Sno Park pass this year I sprung for the special sticker that lets me park where they groom trails for cross country skiers. Never fear, I still can't ski to save my life. And yes, I know that I'm not supposed to so much as look at a groomed trail when I have snowshoes on, but too many areas are inaccessible without the extra sticker.
Up until now, though, I'd only used the permit once at Lake Easton and that was pretty much a bust.
This destination wasn't really an epic in the making, but it had been on my list for a while. I'd even thought about taking Clara on this route, though during the day. The summit isn't officially named, but appears on at least a couple of maps as Mt. Ozbaldy. It's only a couple hundred feet taller than the surrounding woods, but it was nice and close to the Cabin Creek Sno Park.
Daryl and headed out late for the slightly longer drive. When we pulled into the parking lot we geared and started walking in the cold air. From the Sno Park we walked across the overpass (always weird to see tractor trails screaming beneath your feet). On the other side we walked down the road careful to think about any damage to the groomed trail. We needn't have bothered. It was rock solid.
We walked along the roads/trails to a switchback where we could see Mt. Ozbaldy on the other side of a creek covered over by the thick snow. I had tried stepping off the packed trail once and sank up to my hips in the crusty snow so we didn't bother trying to go without snowshoes.
Of course, with the snowshoes on there was no sinking at all. The moon was hidden, but it was still fairly well lit in the little meadow around the creek. The slopes were covered with moguls of sorts on both sides of the creek so naturally we tried sliding, but had little luck as we bounced through nature's pachinko machine and into the alders around the creek.
The climb to the top, for being only 200 feet, was pretty steep. It reminded me a lot of the final climb up Sun Top just a month earlier.
At the top we found the views lacking, but not too disappointing. After all, there weren't high expectations. Had the moon been out we would have seen some interesting sights, but alas, mostly darkness.
Since I-90 ran just to the southwest of Mt. Ozbaldy it was pretty loud except when we dropped to the northeast and down the slope just a few feet.
Although we decided not to head down to Swamp Lake we did follow the northwest ridge down a little and found that although some of the short slopes were good for a glissade most ended with an unceremonious thump into a dip that was hard to get out of. We hung out drinking hot chocolate with various additives and then headed back.
A couple of times we heard owls hooting (or whatever the proper ornithological term is). Usually this wouldn't come up except that on another trip with Daryl to the Rampart Lakes there was a great picture taken that captured an owl by accident. Actually, a flock of owls. During the day. Hmm... maybe they were pine cones. But at least pine cones that are frequently mistaken for owls. Yeah!
Instead of hopping the road to get back we wandered through the woods between the road and I-90. Since the two eventually met I was confident we couldn't get too lost. There's plenty of room in there for a snowshoe trail that could go all the way up Mt. Ozbaldy without crossing any of the groomed trails. Perhaps if it doesn't happen through the state parks department it might have to happen in some other way. After all, how much could a couple dozen plastic blue diamonds cost?
Total distance was a whopping two miles with 200 feet of gain.