Exploring Cape Cod: The Atlantic White Cedar Trail and beyond

This past week’s snowstorm is the first I’ve experienced in two years that left snow on the ground for more than a day afterwards. I completely missed the storm that decimated much of the East Coast in October of 2011 (I was on Catalina Island at the time, I believe) and because of where I was working, the snow from the Northeaster that hit New York City in the wake of Sandy didn’t stick around long enough for a second snowball fight.

From what I’ve been hearing Cape Cod hasn’t had much snow in the past few years, that changed on the 29th when the heavens opened up over much of New England, and left the Cape coated in a white glaze. Having spent the holidays visiting family in Philadelphia I decided to barrel back north early to avoid having to travel in the storm itself, and so I was back in the Wells House on the Cape Cod National Seashore before the first flakes started to stick.

On the 30th, already suffering from Cabin fever despite only having been back for 12 hours or so, I went for a hike with a couple friends and happily remembered to bring my camera along.

We started by cutting through the woods (which I don’t really recommend to people not already familiar with the park) to reach the Atlantic White Cedar Trail, a beautiful hike on an ugly day, we were pretty sure it would be fantastic looking in the early morning snow. We weren’t disappointed.

No previous footprints marring the glazed surface of the walkway.

No previous footprints marring the glazed surface of the walkway.

We were the first to explore the path, and honestly might have been the only people to visit that day, Cape Cod not being particularly crowded at the moment. The trail always feels close, winding as it does through the thickest parts of the Cedar grove it takes its name from, but the addition of a blanket of snow and ice seemed to seal everything together.

Some routes were more accessible than others

Some routes were more accessible than others

In some cases, quite literally. The effect wasn’t as suffocating as it might look, and the closeness of the trees sheltered us nicely from the wind.

We eventually emerged from the grove — unfortunately, while it is a beautiful trail it isn’t very long — and decided to continue onward to the beach. The wind picked up noticeably as we left the trees, and by the time we reached the dunes (read: cliffs, I’m still not really used to the extreme topography of Cape Cod’s beaches) was howling past us and blasting the bits of skin we’d foolishly left exposed with ice-crystals and salt.

If I could bottle that wind I'd make a mint selling it to the chronically congested.

If I could bottle that wind I’d make a mint selling it to the chronically congested.

We stayed as long as we could bear, each crashing wave sent up a spray of frozen rainbows (an effect I spent way too long try to capture for one measly picture) but the frigid wind eventually sent us packing.

It seemed like every other wave was like this, well worth the frozen fingers.

It seemed like every other wave was like this, well worth the frozen fingers.

Its somehow easy to forget I have such a beautiful park quite literally in my backyard. For someone who spends almost every waking moment outdoors I’ve sure missed a lot. I look forward to watching for the arrival of Spring.

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Posted on January 2, 2013, in Exploring and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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