After the small snowstorm that left roughly 6 inches of snow behind, temperatures hovered around the low 20s for several days. During one of those cold days, we donned multiple layers of clothing and headed out to explore a new trail. Not sure what we would find, we threw both our snowshoes and micro-spikes in the truck.
The morning of our jaunt we had studied various trail maps from the Georges River Land Trust site and found two preserves across the street from each other, on Route 105. The Appleton Preserve would be a hike of about 2.5 miles round trip. But, the hardy hiker could take the Canal Path from Route 105 to the trailhead near Route 131, a distance of 3 miles one way.
We decided to make our decision once we reached the trails on Route 105 and could assess the conditions of the trails. Once there, we crossed the road to the Canal Path, glanced at the snow packed down by snowmobiles, and decided to hike a portion of the Canal Path. Not being up to a six mile hike, we studied the trail map for a bit before proceeding on our way. There was a waterfall marked on our trail map which we marked as our turn around point.
Since the snow was packed down, we opted for the micro-spikes and set out on the trail. The path stayed close to the Georges River, providing numerous opportunities to view the ice flows traveling downstream. It wasn’t long before we lost the firm footing left by the snowmobiles and realized that we would have been better off with the snowshoes. Still, we continued forward.
The temperatures had been cold enough to create some beautiful ice sculptures by the water. In one spot, we found numerous ice bells handing down from low branches to touch the water flowing beneath them. We also admired several layers of ice clinging to the bank opposite us, just near one of the many significant bends in the river.
Soon the trail seemed to end at the edge of a stream that was just a little too wide to jump across. We followed the tracks of previous hikers to a more suitable crossing. At this point, it became a little more difficult to walk through the snow since many explorers had opted to turn around rather than continue across the stream.
I was starting to struggle a little bit but I was determined to at least reach the waterfall that was marked on our map. It seems that I never realize at one point in a hike I should turn back. I always forget that at the point I am beginning to struggle, I am already past the point when I should have been making my return journey. So, I pushed on.
We could hear the rush of white water before we arrived at the falls. We stood for a time admiring the ice, the running water and the surrounding snow before making the decision to push on. Yup, I agreed to push on to a section of the trail that was once part of a canal, even though I knew we should turn around.
Once past the falls, the signs of previous hikers just about disappeared. We joked that one person had been selected to trek through the woods to mark this section of trail, for it did seem like only one person had walked through before us. At some point we reached an open field that glimmered with its own beauty. We followed the single pair of footsteps across the fields. When we re-entered the woods, we found the beginning of the Canal Loop trail.
Shortly after this we began our return trip but of course it was too late. I was tired and both hips started to hurt. We had to make frequent stops so I could rest. When we reached the field where we had to find a way across the stream, we took a different direction across the stream. As we approached, we heard the crack of ice underneath our feet. We did not linger but quickly crossed the stream.
I trudged through the rest of our journey to the car, wondering if I would ever learn. Probably not. We had slogged through 4 miles of snow in about 3 hours.