We met a few other hikers on the Mid-State Trail, which turned after a mile toward Watatic itself on the official Wapack.
The temperature hovered just above freezing, so we were comfortable on the slow incline. There are lovely views along the route to the top, so resting often was a pleasure.
Once we broke the tree line, the wind picked up a bit. We saw some tracks of deer and various small varmints. This land was farmed for many generations, and there are remnants of buildings, orchards, and of course, stone walls along the route.
What makes winter hiking so extraordinary is the drama. Contrasts in black, dormant woods and brilliant white snow cover make familiar scenes unrecognizable. I have walked this mountain many times in warmer weather, but today all of it seemed foreign and strange.
Towards the top we were very grateful for the snow cover. Under the blanket were layers of ice which would have made the final steep inclines impassable without micro-spikes at least. With the crunchy snow on top, we had no problem making the climb.
The views from the top include the northern breadth of the Wapack Range, along Temple Mountain and Pack Monadnock (Miller State Park).
To the east the views of Massachusetts often include Boston itself on clear days.
Peaking through the pines, Mount Monadnock dominates the horizon.
We had chosen to meander up the mountain on the Mid-State Trail, so our trip down would be on the more direct Wapack. This was a steeper route, and the snow less dense, so we met with more ice than some of us wanted.
On the other hand, Aaron had come prepared in snow pants and found the downhill trip most entertaining!
We planned on three hours, timing the sunset so we could avoid the dark. Our trip down was interspersed with views of a lovely western sunset. Home before dark? Check. Ideal winter adventure.