Decided on Balsam today, late snowy start. Arrived at the trailed on Rider Hollow Rd, 2 cars in the lot already. Decided to go clockwise on the trail, not wanting to deal with any sketchy water crossings. Wasn't sure what to expect, so I loaded up everything...dear lord..no need for snowshoes or full crampons either. Micros did the job today. no issues following the trail, just a light dusting of snow at lower elevations, most of which melted off by the time i got back. Not until around the 3300 mark did I find ice under the snow. Snow wasn't that bad maybe .5-1" if that. Micros were great, but a couple of slippery spots coming down. I did not do the loop...out and back today. However the people that were ahead of me I never saw, they must have done the loop so I"m guessing no issues with water crossings..though it was running pretty good, ankle high...deeper in some spots i would guess. Nobody had been out to Belleayre...no tracks. Once on top, walked to the view point and continued on the ridge to see what I could see for a while. 4hrs total from parking area to top and back with 30mins on top for lunch...and i'm slow!!!! So great conditions with little ice before the weather moves in and turns it to mud and ice on Tuesday. Safe hiking for the rest of the winter season all!
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