| Huron... with a side of ice road excitement
Solo Huron excursion:
The forecast was great, not a cloud in the sky until I woke up at 6 am. I looked outside and couldn't see anything except a thick blanket of fog. It was an excuse to take my time and 15 minutes after leaving BV it was already clearing up. CR 390 past Clearcreek Rez was completely dry for the first few miles with some snowpacked spots in the shade but other than that, nothing. I made the turn at Winfield and started up the 4 wheel drive part heading to trailhead.
Then it got interesting. I got to the first part of 4wd road and there before me was a sheet of hockey rink quality ice about 30-40 yards long and of course uphill. If someone was filming what happened next, I’d like the video, fortunately there was no one around. I stomped the accelerator and hit the ice, getting about halfway up….then slowly sliding back down.
Naturally I tried it again with more speed. This time I hit it going pretty fast and got almost to the top edge of the ice, tires spinning furiously, “YESSS I’ve got it!!!!.........oh wait no, NOOO I don’t” and then started sliding back down (sideways and much faster this time) hitting small saplings and nearly dropping at least two tires into a 4 foot ravine. I chuckled nervously (several hrs later). Ok, the third time is charm, I gave it all I had or rather all the jeep had, my part in it was limited to simply just grinding my teeth and leaning into the steering wheel trying to propel myself forward.The tires were scratching, clawing and possibly smoldering, but barely and I mean BARELY made it to traction in the snow above. I looked back and expected to see most of my tire tread laying behind me but alas no real damage done.The lengths you go to, to get out of extra hiking. Beware, this ice is thick, slick, and unless you have a much heavier vehicle than I do ( Jeep Cherokee) or chains, you are going to have a difficult time getting up that first hill without some speed.
The rest of the drive back to the trail head was uneventful in comparison. A couple of the narrow places with drop offs were slick but the snow is only 3-4 inches deep with good tracks made. The beginning trail in the trees was tracked up nicely and snow was crusty that early in morning. Nothing deep and in several places the trail was dry. The first views of the 3 Apostles are nothing short of spectacular. Once out of treeline the initial flat snowfield before you start the hike up to the ridge, was full of snow with a good set of tracks. A few places it was knee deep or more but was easily navigated and once you started up the first hill, the only place there was snow was in the depressed trail itself. I did lose the trail a few times higher on the slope but no snow was deep enough that I couldn't just hike straight up the hill and save time anyhow. Once on the boulder field, the trail was mostly easy to follow and there was not much snow. I had the summit ( and the entire trail up) to myself. It was a perfect day, great visibility, no clouds and maybe a 5-10 mph wind on top, but that's it. I hung around for about 45 minutes and started down. On the way down I could see someone starting up the slope from snowfield and it turns out he was a 73 yr old gentleman who had already climbed 20 14ers this year. At 37, I am impressed. we talked for a bit and went our ways. The sun had already made the trail wet and muddy by 11:30 am from what it was on my way up. Snowshoes are not needed anywhere on this trail yet.
On the way back I had to negotiate the giant ice slide going down hill this time and I found that putting the jeep in 4X4 low and not hitting brake or accelerator I was able to make it fine. Just don't hit the brakes. It was a good day and my first time on Huron. I will probably do that one again in the summer.
Looking back towards treeline, plenty of tracks and options around any deep snow
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):