Hi folks! Excited about the prospect of a sunny Saturday with temperatures above zero, I had been planning all week to finish the trio of short Southern Shore hikes by heading out on the Mickeleens Path, but with the huge snowfall we received early in the week, I knew it would be a challenging walk. It turned out to be much tougher than I had anticipated!
I started a little late in the afternoon to complete the hike, but I figured that if the conditions were anything like those I had seen on the Beaches and Tinkers Point paths, I had tons of time. I quickly realized, given the conditions and the deep drifts, that I likely wouldn’t complete the Path today. I decided I’d do a chunk of it and head back along the path I created. At least one brave snowshoer had been on the trail in front of me. Many times I found myself thankful that I had footprints to follow and walk in.
That was true until the trail split. I followed what I thought the most likely route for Mickeleens Path, and I think it’s likely that the trail was followed for the most part, but the going was tough. There were places where the drifts were so high that I was climbing on a precarious slope at treetop level, and when the trail started winding around gulches at the 1.2 km point, I didn’t feel like it was safe to continue on my own, despite the tracks in front of me. At one of the final gulches the trail wound around the gulch a little too close for comfort, and so I decided I’d turn around and try the other trail.
When I got back to that point I noticed that there was indeed a ECT blaze on the tree. That was the first and last blaze I saw on either path, though. That’s something I think could be improved: in summer, it’s easy to follow the trail despite the scarcity of blazes (they’re reassuring but not necessary), but in the winter, any number of possible paths could be the right one, and more frequent blazes would help snowshoers find the path should they go astray. Sheesh! As if the trail volunteers don’t have enough work without keeping up with those of us crazy enough to be trekking the trails when there ARE no discernible trails!
Anyhow, the second path I took was obviously not the right one either. I took a break and checked my GPS: I was very close to the Old Track. I pressed onward and the snowshoe path took a right turn and eventually scrabbled through the bushes to the old track, where a snowmobile had beaten down an easily followed path to a point. I continued past this point for a while, but without a real destination, my plans for a loop completely dashed at this point, I used the deep snow beyond a clearing as an excuse to turn around and make my way back. I rejoined the ECT path just before the Mickeleens trailhead and made my way back to my vehicle at Quay’s Rd.
A short but exhausting trip! I don’t recommend Mickeleens Path in its current condition for folks who don’t know it well or who aren’t experienced snowshoers: it’s not an easy walk. For the brave, though, it’s an adventure! You beat me this time, Mickeleen, but I’ll be back! Check out the pics of crazy drifts in the gallery below!
I moved the snow that had been plowed in front of the sign.
The trail begins innocently enough…
Snowshoes most definitely necessary. I was glad to see someone had been here already.
Some big drifts early in the trip.
The clear spaces were deceptively pleasant.
In the trees, things were a little more challenging.
The sun, which stayed hidden for most of the trip, came out in time to make this river crossing spectacular.
More deep stuff as the trail winds around the first of the gulches at the 1km point.
This is where I chose to turn around. It’s not clear from this picture but immediately on the left of the trail there is a drop into a gulch. I didn’t want to attempt it alone.
Working my way back through the heavy drifts in the trees.
Some spectacular views as the trail crosses hills above gulches.
Turning around at the branch, the upper trail didn’t look much better.
The track I had followed climbed out of the woods onto the Old Track.
The Old Track had opened in a couple of spots.
At this clearing, I decided to turn around: I couldn’t get motivated to head into the drifts on the other side.
The Old Track was nice for snowshoeing once off the snowmobile track.
A tunnel through the trees.
A pair of snowshoes that had been lost along the Old Track close to Bay Bulls. Perhaps they fell off the back of the snowmobile.
The snowmobiler must have been a little nervous skirting this hole.
Snowshoe marks from the couple I passed on the way in mark the trail from the Old Track to the start of the Mickeleens Path.
A little cabin porn. What a secluded spot at the end of Mickeleens Path.