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!