It just snowed and there’s a foot a fresh powder waiting for you on the trails. What do you do?¬†You have to get outside! So, clean off your car and go.

I see too many people making snow an excuse to stay inside, while in fact, it should be the complete opposite. You don’t see skiers and snowboarders choosing to stay inside because it just snowed 2 feet. Don’t let that stop the hiker in you. Strap on your snowshoes and take a hike this winter.

Snowfall in Adirondacks

Good representation of what we had to make our way through. Up to our knees in many spots!

I just completed my 22nd hike of the year and now have only 30 more hikes to go to finish my goal. This last hike was up Owl’s Head Mountain in Long Lake in the Adirondacks. A 3.1 mile hike to the fire tower on the summit; not too difficult for a winter’s day hike. But then you add in what seemed to be 2 feet of fresh powder and being the only people on the trail in the last week…we had to break trail for 3.1 miles up a mountain. It was incredibly beautiful and insanely exhausting.

The snow was up to our knees in many places. While it slowed us down for sure, it was incredibly rewarding and exciting to know that we were the only people out on the trail in over a week. We were the first to break trail and reach the top of the mountain since the last big snow storm. The only other prints out there were from deer, mice, birds, and squirrels.

As all of the trail guides stated, the first 2 miles are relatively flat taking you through a few intersections to a campground and some snowmobile trails. Despite a couple of falls over what I now know were boardwalks and some missteps over some unseen boulders, we had no difficulty making our way through this beginning section.

However, as soon as we reached the site of the old observer’s cabin in a flat area just below the summit and the final ascent, we were at a loss as to where to go. This is where the day’s adventure would truly start.

When this is what you see in all directions, where do you go?

Snow covered trails on Owl's Head Mountain

There was an unfortunately small number of trail markers on the trees in this section and fairly thick covering. So, we went on what we guessed was the trail and headed up the mountain. A few minutes in, when we were slipping sideways down the mountain, we were pretty confident that we were off trail. We retraced our steps back to the observer’s site to try it again. On our way back we found a trail marker, so clearly we were headed in the right direction, at least for a little while.

I remember reading that the trail has a sharp right-hand turn somewhere that will lead you up over boulders to the summit and fire tower. But due to whatever reason, there were absolutely no trail markers denoting where this turn was. Surely not a problem in the summer, but it was nearly impossible to tell where to go when under 2 feet of fresh snow.

I take a guess and turn right. Directly in front of me is 3 feet of vertical frozen ice. I knew it was the right way because most trails in the Adirondacks are so worn that the final ascents to the summit are almost always over bare rock and large boulders. Thankfully, my past experience was right. After maneuvering up and over the vertical ice, I found this.

A snow and tree-line covered trail to the summitIf you squint and look REALLY closely at the tree at the end of the tunnel, there’s a trail marker!! After plenty of wrong turns, some horizontal slides down the side of the mountain, some slips over the ice, and lots of very ungraceful falls, we made it. And I’m so glad we pressed on and didn’t give up. It was an unusually sunny day in New York and I had to see the view.

In the Fire Tower on Owl's Head Mountain Long Lake View from Owl's Head Mountain Long LakeThis view and the accomplishment was well worth the 6.2+ miles of snowshoeing through 2 feet of fresh snow. My legs still aren’t sure it was worth it, but I had a blast.

I also learned that if you have enough powder and a steep enough mountain, you can actually ski down a mountain and make it back to your car before sunset. Hooray for not needing my headlamp! And hooray for crazy adventures!