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02 January 2013

New Year's Day on a New Trail

On New Year's Day (2013), I slapped on my XC skis and tried out a new XC-ski trail.  David Govatski (President, Friends of Pondicherry) recently made me aware of work that is being done to develop this new trail at the Pondicherry Division of theSilvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge.  Additional work needs to be done before this trail is formally opened (tentatively scheduled for October 2013).  However, I was invited to try out the trail in its current condition.

The trail corridor utilizes old logging roads.  Some of the work remaining to be done includes remedying issues associated with 15 ditches that bisect the trail.  About half of the these ditches have standing water even when the air temperature is below freezing.  The hazard is that skis can get wet which means having to stop and remove the ski to wipe it dry and scrape off the snow/ice build-up. With some careful maneuvering, I successfully avoided all but one of these wet spots on the outbound leg of my trek.  On the return leg, I avoided all of them.

I'll "cut to the chase" and say that I am thoroughly impressed with this 1.6 mile trail which is slated to be named the Mooseway XC-trail.   Although the Mooseway is designed primarily as a XC-ski trail, the intent is to allow snowshoe traffic as well.  This new trail will provide a non-motorized alternative to people seeking a visit to Cherry and Little Cherry Ponds without any snowmobile traffic.

The Mooseway is accessed from the Mud Pond Trailhead off of Route 116 in Jefferson where there is a large parking lot which is plowed for winter use.  The trail begins a short distance from the Mud Pond trailhead at the point where the Mud Pond Trail makes a sharp right turn.  The Mooseway ends at a junction point along the Little Cherry Pond Trail, about 0.2 mile east of Little Cherry Pond.

Perhaps the following map will provide a better idea about the location of the Mooseway XC Trail.
Map showing general location of Mooseway XC-Trail corridor

And so with that rather lengthy introduction, here are some snapshots taken during my XC-ski adventure which included skiing along the Mooseway XC-Trail, as well as the Little Cherry Pond Trail, plus the Rampart Trail which runs along the shore of the larger pond which is simply known as Cherry Pond.

The next two photos show scenes from the Mooseway XC-Trail which leads you through sections consisting of mixed hardwoods and conifers, as well as through a beautiful section consisting entirely of spruce.
Segment of Mooseway XC-Trail leading through mixed hardwoods and conifers

Segment of Mooseway XC-Trail leading through a beautiful spruce forest

Once you reach the Little Cherry Pond Trail, you have the option of turning right and trekking down to Little Cherry Pond, or you can go turn left and head for Cherry Pond.  I opted to go left and take in the views from the shoreline of Cherry Pond.  Then, as part of the return leg of my adventure, I would pay a visit Little Cherry Pond.

The eastern end of the Little Cherry Pond Trail terminates at a rail corridor.  The next photo shows the rail corridor, but it was taken from a point slightly south of where the Little Cherry Pond Trail intersects it. 
Rail corridor as viewed from a point slightly south of where Little Cherry Pond Trail intersects it

The Rampart Trail is directly across the railroad tracks from the eastern terminus of the Little Cherry Pond Trail.  This trail provides access to excellent views from the western shore of Cherry Pond.  The vistas that I find particularly appealing are those of the Presidential Mountain Range, and Cherry Mountain.

A persistent cloud cover partially obscured the Presidential Range, as can be seen in the next two photos.
Cloud-covered Presidential Range as viewed from shoreline of Cherry Pond
Slightly zoomed view of cloud-covered Presidential Range

Although the vista of the Presidential Range was partially obstructed by clouds, Cherry Mountain was fully visible with all its shapely beauty.  The sharply-pointed Owl's Head peak on the northern end of the mountain is particularly prominent.
Cherry Mountain with pointed Owl's Head peak particularly prominent

As stated earlier in this report, on the return leg of my trek, I made a short side trip to Little Cherry Pond.  The sun was low in the sky by the time I arrived, which made it difficult to  take snapshots that were particularly flattering to this body of water.  Shown below is a photo looking toward the pond's northern shore where the sunlight wasn't a factor.
Looking toward northern shoreline of Little Cherry Pond

As I neared the end of my adventure for the day, the sun was about to dip below the horizon.  As I looked behind me while skiing along the Mooseway, there was a nice vista of Cherry Mountain being illuminated by the setting sun.
Cherry Mountain viewed from Mooseway XC-Trail at sunset

And then, as I turned to look westward, the sky was being "colorized" with shades of orange and yellow.
 Western sky at sunset, as viewed from Mooseway XC-Trail

To sum it up, when fully completed, the Mooseway will offer an excellent opportunity for XC skiers and snowshoers to experience remote sections of the Pondicherry Wildlife Refuge.  


MiscellanyEsq said...

Great photos and great trail report, as always. Thanks!

1HappyHiker said...

Thank you for the positive feedback! Very much appreciated!


Steve Smith said...

Nice report and beautiful photos, John! Looks like a great new option at Pondicherry.


1HappyHiker said...

Thanks Steve!

The Mooseway Trail will indeed be a terrific wintertime option for accessing Pondicherry. And, it’s made even nicer by having plowed parking at the Mud Pond trailhead which is large enough to accommodate quite a few cars/trucks.


Grey's Anatomy its not... said...

Beautiful photos, as usual, John. The Mooseway the beginning of that handicapped accessible? (in the summer, of course).

1HappyHiker said...

Thank you for the compliments regarding the photos!

Yes, the entire length of the Mud Pond Trail is handicapped accessible (weather permitting). The Mooseway XC Trail branches off a short distance from the Mud Pond trailhead at the point where the Mud Pond Trail makes a sharp right turn. The Mooseway will not be handicapped accessible. Hope this answers your question, but if not, then please feel to re-post your inquiry.


Anonymous said...

Nice trip report and pics. That is a gem of an area. I was fortunate enough to go on a birdwatching tour with Dave Govatsky and a large group this past Spring there, which was an absolute delight. He is an amazing person with so much knowledge! I also was able to complete the rail trail from Berlin through the Pondicherry (in sections obviously) and finished the last leg in October and saw some beautiful larch trees in their "fall bloom," as well as having seen his wife out walking their old hound. With the ponds and presidentials as a back drop it is an absolutely gorgeous place for various activities. He has done some hard work to get that area into preservation for all to enjoy! I'll have to check that out some time!

Hiking Lady

1HappyHiker said...

Hi Hiking Lady,

As you correctly state, Pondicherry is indeed a gem! And, I completely agree that David Govatski deserves a huge amount of praise for his tireless work as leader of the Friends of Pondicherry who perform maintenance tasks at this wildlife refuge, as well as a host of other activities such as conducting educational workshops, monitoring wildlife, etc.

Thanks for taking time to post your comments!


Summerset said...

Very cool, a new trail! I'm not surprised that you chose or it worked out to be your first adventure of 2013. I knew of the area, but haven't visited there. Might be good to take my son snowshoeing in that area. I realize the new trail isn't open yet, but there are plenty of other options.

One Day in America said...

Hi John,

I love the idea of trails being specified as non-motorized. Here in Utah there is the misguided (but highly popular) notion that every square inch of public land should be accessible to noisy and destructive motorized recreation.
I agree with you and Hiking Lady that the Pondicherry area is a gem. Little Cherry Pond looks like a wonderful place to explore in any season.
And, as always, your photos are spectacular!
Thanks for sharing this winter wonderland experience.

1HappyHiker said...

Hi Summerset,

Pondicherry is a beautiful place to visit year round, but I personally prefer winter and autumn for hiking there. Although the Mooseway Trail isn’t officially open to the public, it’s my understanding that responsible hikers like you are free to use it with the understanding that it is ONLY for XC-ski/snowshoe use, and with acceptance of the fact that blazing/signage is not yet in place, and that there are some areas (like the ditches mentioned in my report) that still need some fine-tuning.

Thank you for posting your comments. As always, I’m very appreciative!


1HappyHiker said...

Hi Rita!

It is indeed so nice to have a gem like Pondicherry available for public enjoyment. As you might have read in the link posted in this report, Pondicherry is part of the National Wildlife Refuge System (a national network of 545 refuges) which protects about 100 million acres of key habitat for wildlife, fish, plants . . . and people!


Andrew said...

Thanks again! Not only great to have a different option out to Cherry/Little Cherry without the long straights on the rail trail, but also a snowshoe/ski only trail that I hope will be honored. Col. Whipple has so many wet sections that I gave up on consideration for a ski route. Also waiting for some new growth to overcome the open road feel (although currently ideal habitat and essentil to the USFWS mission for preservation), so thanks for the picture of the more enclosed softwood sections.
This will probably wind up being a frequent visit for us, maybe I'll bring a snow shovel along and start some snow bridges.

1HappyHiker said...

Andrew and Lindsay,

It’s terrific to hear from someone who is as “psyched” about this new winter-use trail as I am! It a marvelous route with varied scenery, and I’m really excited about the trailhead parking. I never felt comfortable about parking along the road when using the Col. Whipple Trail.

That’s a terrific idea about taking a snow shovel along to start some snow bridges in the ditches!!

Thanks guys for posting your comments!