Winter Wonderland Lost Pond, Chilson, NY, March 19, 2023

by Allison Henry

The trailhead for Lost Pond is adjacent to Putnam Pond Campground, which is adjacent to the Pharaoh Lake Wilderness outside Ticonderoga, NY. The Lost Pond Trail is a “lollipop” trail with about a mile and a quarter hike to the pond, a mile hike around the pond, and then a return to the trailhead on the same route. By the Saturday afternoon before the hike, I had had no takers, so I assumed I wouldn’t be going and made other important plans with my rabbits. Silly me. By Saturday evening I heard from Larry (of course) and Lisa (hooray!). I was going to cancel since I wasn’t really prepared, but then on Sunday morning I was like “What am I thinking, let’s go!”

It was a chilly but sunny, clear day in Rutland, but we found ourselves driving in near whiteout conditions on the final few miles to the trailhead. During the drive we had discussed whether we really needed snowshoes, as I had scoped out the hike a few weeks before and found about a foot of old, packed snow, perfect for microspikes. Once at the trailhead, in a deluge of icy wet snow pellets, I climbed the wall of snow piled between the parking lot and the trail and plunged into thigh-deep snow. “Snowshoes!” I called to my two fellow group members, who already had their snowshoes on and were several yards along the trail already. Back to the car I went, geared myself up physically and mentally, and set out. When I caught up to Lisa and Larry they were deep in conversation about tree identification. Lisa and I were captivated by Larry’s description of tree features, including needle and leaf shape, bark patterns, and limb placement. I learned several new-to-me tree names including the Cottonbarked Humdinger and the Sketchy Woolneedle. Larry broke trail for the entire trek to the pond. Lisa and I tried to step opposite Larry’s tracks to make a nice treadway for our hike out, but Larry’s tracks were so far apart that we would have had to deploy ropes and sheets of plywood, borrowing from crop circle designers.

We found Lost Pond and found it to be very sunny and very windy. We took a leisurely lunch break in a somewhat-sheltered area in the trees and afterward I decided unanimously that we would not be hiking all the way around the pond. Our hike back was much easier with our nicely broken trail. As we approached the trailhead we encountered a small group of hikers beginning their hike and we accepted their gratitude for our trail-breaking efforts. The new arrivals politely refrained from mentioning that I was the only one covered in snow, but I knew their suspicions would be realized when they saw the giant Allison-shaped holes along the packed trail.