Monday, February 28, 2005

Broadmoor Wildlife Sanctuary - February 26

It occurred to me late last week that I don't need to go north to snowshoe. There are a couple of places close to home with trails suitable for snowshoeing. The trick is setting aside the time to go.

Amy was going to be busy at least part of Saturday sorting fruit for a chorus fundraiser, so I decided I'd head to the Broadmoor Wildlife Sanctuary (5 miles, and 10 minutes from home). This required renewing my Audobon membership which had expired.

Saturday morning dawned bright, and a bit cold. I suited up - long undies top and bottom, ski pants, fleece vest, windbreaker (it wasn't _that_ cold) - and packed up - mittens, fleece hat, head band, baseball cap, sun glasses (I really need to acquire googles), turtle fur (fleece tube that's worn in place of a scarf and face mask), water, snacks (nuts, dried fruit, chocolate), camera, extra batteries, car keys (to Amy's car since she was going to need mine to lug fruit around), wallet, snowshoes and poles - and headed off to Broadmoor.

A full 14 minutes after leaving home (stop lights), I pulled into the parking lot. After checking in at the Nature Center, I strapped on the snowshoes and headed out toward the Indian Brook trail. The patterns on the snow as the trail crosses an open field were fascinating. Most were old snowshoe prints filled in by the small snow storm we had a couple days earlier. I did see deer prints as well.

After crossing the field, the trail heads downhill toward Indian Brook. Along the way I saw one skier, a solo walker, and a small group of walkers. I've spent just enough time snowshoeing in places that prohibit walking on the trails that I'm always amazed to see people trudging along a snowy trail in boots. I had to remind myself that Broadmoor doesn't limit access based on footwear. Later in the day I did have to bite my tongue when I was passed by a man in penny loafers. Broadmoor isn't backwoods by any stretch of the imagination (I don't think you're ever more than 1/2 mile from houses) but penny loafers in wet snow just isn't too smart.

At the point where the trail crosses Indian Brook (as far as I'd ever been on this trail) I crossed the brook (after a brief shoe tightening) stopping on the bridge to take this picture. This put me on the Glacial Hill trail. As I mentioned, I've never explored this trail before. I was expecting a hill of some sort but all I found were gentle rises and gentle drops. It did feel like I was much further removed from civilization than I actually was. The only sounds were the wind in the trees, occasional bird calls, and the gentle ringing of the zipper pull on my back pack.

About mid-way on the section of the trail I traversed I spotted a woodpecker high in a tree. I wasn't bird watching, but the bright red on the bird's head caught my eye. The bird proved elusive and I wasn't able to get a picture of it. I can't even note what variety it was, 'cause I haven't looked it up in our bird book yet.

I took a short detour onto the western edge of the Marsh trail to a rock outcropping which features a bench which makes a very nice spot for a break. I did have to bushwhack to avoid what looks to be a recent mostly fallen tree - it's stuck on another tree with only about 3 feet of clearance underneath. Then it was back to the Glacial Hill trail.

At the east end of the Glacial Hill trail I turned north and descended the steepest part of the hill (which isn't very steep) to the edge of the Mill Pond where I took a break on the stone bridge, and had a lot of fun taking pictures of the ice formations on the waterfall side of the bridge.

From there I proceeded along a portion of the Mill Pond trail past yet another waterfall, and the site of my only snowshoeing accident (2 years ago - caught the end of a snowshoe on a rock and jammed my thumb when I caught myself with my pole.) to the Marsh trail. From here I could see the Nature Center, my first glimpse of civilization since I'd headed out.

There were unidentified animal track on the marsh, and the sound of small planes overhead. I took advantage of the relatively new boardwalk across one edge of the marsh (okay for snowshoeing due to the 3 inches of snow on top, before heading up the final hill.

When I got to the car, I was very startled to discover I'd been out for almost 3 hours. Particularly, when I figured out that the entire trip was only about 1 1/4 mile. However, unlike the groomed trails at the XC centers, there are no groomed trails at the Sanctuary, and I did a lot of trail breaking.

I was also dismayed to discover that my boots have lost most of what little waterproofness they ever had. I'm definitely going to have to do something about that before heading out again.

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