The trail starts at Ollalie State Park, after a short trek uphill and a quick walk down the Iron Horse Trail. It started to rain almost the instant our feet hit the muddy path, winding past a lovely waterfall and under a rock formation with a stream of water spilling over.
After about two miles of steep going, the rain turned to hail and the path opened up with some glimpses through the trees of a foggy valley. We made it past a set of switchbacks and veered right at a juncture before the snow began piling up around us. It wasn’t long before we were hopping over holes in the powdery trail that led to the river below.
I was keeping my eyes peeled for what mountaineers call the “owl spot,” which is frequented by night hikers who want to bring a hot beverage and stare out at the stars. In my never-ending quest to turn every outing into a long challenge, we determined that we had passed the spot miles back and should turn around since it was late in the afternoon and we had only our boots to carry us through the snowy forest.