About this time last year, what appeared to be a real New England winter had settled over the state.
A snowstorm had hit, and temperatures were dropping. I made plans to go to Enders Falls in Granby to see some of Old Man Winter's icy creations.
And then spring hit. And lasted the rest of the winter. Ugh.
It turned out to be one of the warmest winters on record. Not to be fooled again, this year I decided to make the icy hike while wintry conditions were still around.
In the middle of a cold snap, I crunched my way along a snow-covered trail Thursday morning in the 2,100-acre Enders State Forest on my way to the five spectacular waterfalls in the shadow of a hemlock-covered hill known as Pine Cone.
The setting was perfect, with the hemlock boughs and oak branches still filled with snow. An occasional gust of wind pushed the snow off the branches, bursting into frozen sparkles. The sun in the deep blue sky sent a ray or two through the hemlocks, illuminating the frozen stream below.
The journey along the quarter-mile trail, along with snowshoe and side paths made by fellow explorers down to the edge of the falls, offers a bit of adrenaline rush, since you are one slippery step away from going into the icy stream. The trip is part strategy session as you navigate the frozen banks and figure out where the ground ends and the river begins.
The sights along the falls are dazzling, from the ice dangling over the rapids that looked like hand-dipped candles drying on a rack to the huge icicles lining the sides of the rocky chasms. And like cloud formations, visitors can use their imaginations to describe the ice formations, which can resemble a jellyfish, a head of cauliflower, rock crystals or even sugared flowers on a wedding cake.
Huge, snow-covered boulders lined the middle of the brook like marshmallows. Everywhere you looked, the brook had created ice sculptures of every shape and size. Waterfalls were entombed in ice, their roar muffled inside a cloak of crystal.
Icicles like huge stalactites hung off cliffs. Under the falls, stalagmite-like ice was forming as the water fell and froze, the cycle repeated countless times since the mercury fell below freezing.
With temperatures forecast to be in the 40s next week, our brief dance with winter may again be coming to an end. But this time, I was able to catch up with the beauty that is a New Engand winter.
Take I-91 to Route 20. Follow Route 20 through Granby and take a left on Route 219. The parking area is on the left after coming to the top of a hill. Peter Marteka may reached at 860-647-5365 or firstname.lastname@example.org or at The Courant, 200 Adams St., Manchester, CT 06040.