Due to Winter Storm Benji bearing down on Southern New England last Saturday I suggested to my son that we skip his first day of his ski race team training and I would take him skiing at Jiminy Peak on Sunday instead. He was more that enthusiastic about that since the first day they weren't going to spend all day skiing and he really just loves to ski. That mean that I was free to ride!
I did some chores in the morning while waiting for the snow to accumulate, no sense taking the big girl out to play with just a dusting, and by the time there was around an inch of snow on the ground I headed out. Realizing that it was Saturday and on the tail end of dear season I made sure to get all oranged up because Upper Paugussett is an active hunting forest.
Along with wearing as much orange as possible I made sure my bear bell would be clanging away so as to alert any nearby hunters of my presence. Riding down Sanford Road there was a familiar, silver GMC pickup that I have seen before. In the Echo Valley parking lot I chatted up a few mountain bikers that happen to just finish riding. They said they came across a few hunters and who all said to a varying degree that there was no mountain biking allowed during hunting season. That was a load of crap.
Leaving the lot I rode up the Brody Road and didn't encounter any hunters but when I turned on the Upper Gussy I did notice some boot prints so I kept my eye on the ground to see where they left the trail. Those prints veered off on Mr Ed (Yellow splotches). I have been looking at the possibility of doing another tweak to the trail just past this point, on the little rock ridge. It could be a fun little diversion with some banked turns that go into a nice rock roller and would tie in nicely to Mr Ed, which is the route that I would normally take if I were riding up the Gussy and heading out.
Didn't see any more boot prints but even with an inch of snow on the ground you could tell that the trail was leaf blown, which is not a best practise for sustainable trail management, in fact its frowned upon. I rode the Reach Around a little cautiously knowing that there could be hunters nearby because of that pickup parked on Sanford Road. Riding across the jeep trail I started following a dear path that went diagonally from the Jeep Road and headed up a little rise. That's one of the reasons I love riding in the snow is because all the trails that are usually camouflaged by leaves, but the snow pops them out.
At the crest of the hill and about 50 yards due west of my position there were two hunters laying between two trees. One was pointing towards a stone wall cut and the other facing the other direction. One of the hunters waved to me. I waved back, said I was sorry, turned around and headed back to the Jeep trail. I then rode back up the Gussy (staying away from Double Secret Probation) and then headed out on the Mulikin Trail.
When I got to the top of the hill on Old Jalopy I stopped and rang my bear bell vigorously because just past the Flight Simulator there is a tree stand and if there was hunter on it I didn't want to disturb him. I inched a little further up the trail to where I got good look at the stand and saw that there was no one in it is when I headed down the trail and then eventually rode out and then rode home. Overall, it was great ride but I would have preferred to have been doing it on a Sunday when I would be free to explore more area.