There were a few days in the beginning of January where the days were bitterly cold, but with the melt from rain and warmer temperatures the week before we decided to attempt a more ambitious hike up to the cross on Maiden Cliff. Our hope was that with the melt in recent days and the steeper angle of the Maiden Cliff Trail encouraging greater runoff, we would encounter little or no ice. Still, we brought along our spikes just in case.
During the first part of our journey, the trail was dotted with patches of ice that we could easily avoid during our uphill adventure. Unfortunately, we soon reached a patch that we could not traverse without donning our spikes. What we had not taken into account when we assumed that the steeper grade would allow for runoff, was that rushing water coming down the trail would very quickly freeze when the temperatures dropped. For the rest of our walk, we were obligated to follow a routine of taking spikes off, walk a bit, put them back on, walk a bit take them off. When you have reached a point in your life where you are not as flexible as you were in your younger days, this routine was a lot harder than it seemed. I for one, needed to find a place to sit, physically pull my leg up and then pull the spikes over my boot.
Once we were equipped to travel across the ice we continued our explorations. The trail followed a ravine part of the way up the mountain and we stopped for a bit to watch and listen to the water running down the ravine. From our vantage point we were also able to make out ice formations hanging from the tree roots near the flowing stream. Further along, we found some wonderful crystal formations in the middle of the trail where the water running down the path had frozen once more.
Behind us, we heard a scream followed by laughter of two young women attempting the trail without spikes,as they slipped and tried to right themselves on the icy route. Even without the proper gear, their youth allowed them to soon pass us and quickly move out of our sight. For a moment I wished that I was young enough to regain the speed, agility and flexibility to be able to move as those young women did but then I remembered that it was not winning the race but the finish that mattered.
We removed our spikes for the rocky middle section of our adventure. It was a bit difficult maneuvering through this slightly steeper section where I had to watch the placement of each step and deal with the sharper incline, but soon we were back to a level, ice filled section. We thought we could get through this section by just walking along the side of the trail or treading carefully, but once I slipped and continued sliding towards the open side of the trail I decided to crawl on all fours to a safer spot where I could put on the spikes once more.
At this point we were nearing the end of our journey. Walking along a level section we met the young women who had passed us earlier, now making their return trip downhill. They had not stayed long to admire the views from the top for they claimed that it was very cold on the exposed ledge, but then their coats were open and I am not sure if they were wearing hats. Since we were wearing layers and zippered up coats we had no trouble enjoying a snack near the Maiden Cliff cross while we looked across the frozen lake towards the ski bowl before heading back down the mountain.