Eric reminded me on the drive up that we have been doing this for nine years now. Sometimes just the two of us, somtimes with others. Folks have come and gone, others becoming semi-permanent to the group. On the short drive to the trailhead we recalled some of our past thanksgivings in the woods. The trips to Queer Lake in the early days with Ian and others. In the years since we have chosen locations with shorter hikes in so as to carry more food and drink. This was no exception.
Woodland Pond in the Charles Baker SF is about a mile fromt he parking area. The DEC Forester provided us with some good intel about the best parking location. A lot of truck roads and equestrian trails wind around through this forest. Since we are in between hoirse riding season and snowmobile season we would have the place to ourselves except for the hunters. The parking area is apparently a sire used by partiers, as the middle was a bonfire pit with plenty of cans and bottles, We checked out the picnic area up the road a bit and it seemed meh. We loaded up our packs and headed down the closed portion of the truck trail. We left an arrow with logs for Andy to lead him to us tomorrow. The trail was easy and downhill. Even after the junction, it continued downhill. The sign at the junction said .7 miles to the pond. It was significantly less. From the car to the lean-to took us 20 minutes.
We expected some rain and snow during the trip. So far it has been dry. We set up camp, gathered wood and began our holiday celebration. We also strung up a tarp under which we put dry wood. As per are usual we had chili and hot dogs for dinner. We would have extra for the morning too. Rain came over night. The metal roof on the lean-to made it seem like a lot more rain than it was. The rain turned to snow in the early morning which made lighting the fire more pleasant. The snow was heavy at times with big wet flakes. As the morning waned, so did the snow. The sun came out for a bit too.
Andy arrived at noon. He would round out the group of three. Some of our other regulars, like Kalie and Chad, would sadly not be making it this year. With Andy's arrival the second half of our thanskgiving would begin. We had a pot of water on the fire and soon we had the turkey in as well. We had our full plates and bellies just as the day turned to dusk. Cheesecake for dessert too. I ate too much.
As the evening wore on, I was getting tired. I switched from my chair into my sleeping bag. The temperature flectuated throughout the night, or so it seemed. But in the morning it was definitely colder. Around 20F. More snow over night as well.
With the fire restarted, we had coffee and packed up. We were rewarded with a nice sunrise over the pond. With Meaghan (the dog) being cold we would be leaving as soon as she climbed out of her bed. Back on trail just before 8:30 and back at the car in 18 minutes. With Eric moving to Tennessee, these Tgiving trips with him might be coming to an end. He said he would drive up next year. So we should t least have a tenth one before the group make up significantly changes again.