Dennis Shubitowski

Winter Solstice, 2003, Waterloo-Pinckney Trail by John Lawton

Reports by John Lawton | Ken Knight | Andy Mytys | Dennis Shubitowski

After getting up early, hating drinks and meals and packing, I set off to Lyndon park and arrived at 5:45am. With not a car in sight, I sat and waited. After about 25 minutes I decided to drive to another trailhead and upon returning, found Dennis in the parking lot, followed quickly by Andy and Ken.

We decided to spot Dennis's vehicle at the end. Before leaving, we noticed he had left the interior lights on in his truck so he headed back with his key to turn off the lights. We drove over to the Waterloo headquarters on McClure Rd were we dropped Andy's car off, all piled into my car again and off we headed to Portage Lake. It must be noted that Andy too, had left the interior lights on in his car so he headed back to turn off his lights.

Once at the start of the hike, we quickly loaded up and got underway from Portage Lake at about 7:39am, with the crescent moon showing above the horizon the sun rise turning the few clouds orange and rose in color. The weather was cold and windy, but was pleasant enough and it was a nice day for walking. There was about 1 to 2 inches of snow on the ground. As we started, over a hundred Sandhill Crains lifted from the ice on Portage Lake, and circled, some to the southeastand some went to the southwest of us.

As we hiked, we pasted a number of blowdowns, and we cleared them when we could. I was able to show Andy and Dennis some of the official sections that I thought they had missed from viewing their previous GPS track. There was also a short section where there are old trail markings, signs and even an old boardwalk, but that gets little(if any) use. There are a few more trail signs and markings to help the hiker, but little consistency in the color or type.

We took our first longer break before Sackrider Hill and ate a few snacks.

The wind seemed to come and go throughout the day. Sometimes roaring through the trees, and sometimes not blowing at all. The temperature seemed to stay just above freezing throughout the day, and caused the snow to start to melt, and most of us had soaked boots and soaked socks by lunchtime. The ground was mostly frozen which caused difficulty on the horse trails where previous riders created holes and ridges on the trail.

At the river crossing before Baldwin Road, Dennis and I crossed on the very slippery fallen tree on the west side of the trail, and Andy and Ken crossed on a number of rocks and logs took the east side of the trail.

The spring pond area just to the west of Baldwin was flooded, but frozen. Though it was not thick enough, as when we hiked across it the ice would crack and water would seep up in places. Everyone got across without breaking completely through the ice.

We took our lunch break in the large open area just past the dam in the horseman's trail area east of Baldwin road.

Continuing along the trail we passed clear Lake road and up the switchbacks on the hills leading up to top of the ridge south of Clear Lake and then up and down the hills west of the Waterloo headquarters. We took another break at the Waterloo HQ (16.5 mile point) where Andy's car and the cooler of hot water were.

After the break we went along toward the Discovery Center. When we got to the trails around the Discovery Center, we took the correct trail which circled around the shore of Mill Lake at the bottom of the hill, and went up the stair and toward the parking lot. By this point, the sun was quickly disappearing and it was starting to get dark. We were on the last 6 miles of the hike. I started to slow down a bit, partially to keep Ken within sight, partially because I was getting a little tired, and partially to enjoy the night hiking through the forest. I do like hiking at night and did not even bother with a flashlight, as the trail was (for me) well known and very clear because of the snow. The trail was slippery in places, mostly on the down slopes, making for some treacherous footing, and a little rocky in other places. The hills seemed to be getting steeper or longer as we got closer to the end.

We finished the hike around 9:30p and were we ready to go home. And well, Dennis explained what happened next. I stayed with ken at Dennis's truck where Ken was quickly asleep, and I finished the last of my now warm cider and desert from lunch. My feet were starting to get cold now that they had stopped moving, so I took off my boots and socks and wrapped my feet in the fleece blanket that I had brought and tried to get comfortable in the back of Dennis's truck. I was half asleep when Andy, Elwira and Dennis arrived.

Overall, a good hike. I thought it was a little long, and I don't think I have ever hiked that far before. I was very tired and got a little cold and stiff while waiting at the end, but felt OK. My feet are a little sore (but no blisters), and I am a little stiff today.


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Last updated: January 1, 2004