My friend Marty and I got a late "crack of noon" start on this 14th day of January, but this just so happened to work to our advantage. As we drove to the Rt. 115 trailhead for the Cherry Mountain Trail, we could see a shroud of cloud on the high peaks. However, the clouds were beginning to lift by the time we completed our 1.9 mile trek to the Mt. Martha peak on Cherry Mountain (see photo below).
Despite our late start, we figured we still had ample daylight hours to make the short side trip from Mt. Martha over to the Owl's Head peak. The Martha's Mile Trail runs along Cherry Mountain's ridgeline for 0.8 mile and provides a connection between Owl's Head and Mt. Martha. It's an easy 1.6 mile round-trip trek.
There is something you need to know if you've never done a winter hike to Owl's Head via the Martha's Mile Trail. The final approach to the Owl's Head summit is nearly always very icy. Although we had Microspikes with us, Marty and I opted to work our way up the steep icy precipice with the traction provided by our MSR snowshoe crampons. It was a bit dicey! It would be a good idea to bring your crampons or Microspikes in case you need them for this final approach.
Once we arrived at Owl's Head, the cloud cover had lifted even more (snapshot below).
The clouds continued to lift very quickly, and by the time we'd finished eating a late lunch, the clouds over the mountaintops were really starting to move out.
Our return to Mt. Martha was uneventful . . . well sort of. Along the way, we spotted something odd. There must be quite story behind this. A rope was hanging from a tree branch which I'd guesstimate was about 25 ft off the ground. Hanging from the end of this rope was a hand mirror. Go figure! A snapshot of this odd site is shown below.
By the time we got back to the Mt Martha peak, winter's evening sun was beginning to cast a glow over the mountains. This is always such a picturesque site!
Adding to the picturesque beauty of this day were the lenticular cloud formations. There might be a proper term for the particular type of lenticular cloud shown in the next photo, but I'll just call it a "stacked lenticular".
As we headed back down the Cherry Mountain Trail toward the trailhead, the setting sun provided quite a colorful display of light. We were treated to multihued scenes such as shown in the next photo.
And one of the more unusual scenes is shown below. It appeared and disappeared all within a matter of 3 minutes or less. We just happened to be at the right place at the right time to photographically capture this colorfully-illuminated spot along the trail. No photo-shop tricks were used here. It is what it is!
To sum it up, gheez . . . it's terrific to have Old Man Winter finally drop by to pay us a visit. Sure hope he knows that he is appreciated and is most welcome to stick around for awhile!