Snow on BreakneckI enjoy Breakneck Ridge all year, but it is always special in winter. After a storm had left the Mid Hudson Valley with 10 inches of snow or so, conditions seemed right for a back yard outing in the Hudson Highlands.
Although I left late around noon for the hike, the trail head parking and the larger parking area were not yet plowed. But the Restaurant just south of the tunnel in R-9D has a new black top and was plowed immaculately. That means walking through the tunnel, but at least you know you can get your car out again.
When I started the white trail I saw that another party had gone up that day already and quietly resolved to get up earlier the next time. For the next couple of minutes I tired to read from the tracks how many people there had been. The powder snow had fallen on bare but cold ground and therefore not consolidated and attached to the rocks yet. But the snow cover was enough to get one or the other leg up when high stepping to the next ledge. There was not a lot of ice underneath the snow, so I did not use crampons except for the south facing slabs a little higher up on the trail, just before reaching the Undercliff go off to the right. Before that part I caught up to the group in front of me, which turned out to be three guys who seemed to be exhilarated by the experience. Since they took a little break it gave me the chance to go ahead and break trail.
Since it was a mostly cloudy day, the views were not as stunning as other times, the Hudson lay there in gray and Storm King Mountain was a dark gray covered with some white patches.
I think most people turn around after reach the first or second camel back of the ridge, but I usually do a loop by following the white trail to the red and dropping down into the depression between the Ridge and Sugarloaf Mountain. That descent is most fun in winter when enough snow allows for plunge-stepping. After meeting with the yellow trail, I returned to R-9D over sone snow shoe tracks.
By that time the parking lots were both plowed, but I still had to follow the road through the tunnel.