The Long Trail Adventures

My sister is the real hiker having hiked many miles over the years and ventured off alone many times for days at a time. I am a minimalist day time hiker. . .occasionally. But when she asked me to do some hiking with her this summer I thought it was a great opportunity to try something new and spend time together.

Originally Marie’s request was for me to consider hiking the 100 Wild Miles of the Appalachian Trail in Maine over 10 days. I considered this and began putting on some miles in my own neighborhood. I have miles of biking trails to explore right from home so began walking just for the sake of getting some miles under my belt. All was good for the first few weeks and then my left knee revolted in a BIG way. Suddenly it had decided that any weight bearing would be off limits, so I stopped my training walks, gathered the ice packs and went on the recuperation trail instead of the hiking trail.

After about three weeks and an unpleasant visit to the physician’s assistant I began walking again, but this time went very slowly. I got myself a good pair of hiking shoes, put on the pack and headed out again, eventually working back up to a few miles and a heftier pack. All was good, though my ankles, which must have had a conversation with my knee at some point, decided they were unhappy with my new plan. I ignored them and kept going. Marie suggested I use hiking poles, which would take some of the pressure off my legs. I did and it helped. Trust the experts.

Finally we decided to take on overnight practice hike to see if I was ready. Marie planned a Long Trail hike over Mt. Belvedere, Tillotson Peak, and Haystack Mt. We hiked from Eden Crossing to the Tillotson Camp where we spent the night.The next day we went over Tillotson Peak and Haystack to Hazen’s Notch for a total of about 10 miles. My first thought when done was ‘there is no way I could do that for ten days in a row.’ I found the hike challenging, particularly the second day descending Haystack. It was incredibly steep and I kept reminding myself how lucky we were that it wasn’t raining. It would have been treacherous in the rain. The camping part was great. The weather was perfect – 70 degrees, not many bugs, and Marie had a tent that was comfortable. This was the first time I had officially camped out in about 25 years.

Though I had decided I clearly wasn’t ready for a 100 mile adventure, we did go on another overnight trip a couple of weeks later. This time Marie chose Jay Peak and Doll Peak – a few miles north of our first hike. I had climbed Jay Peak on a day hike a few years ago, so I was feeling more confident about this one. The climb from Vt route 242 to the top of Jay was much easier than the Belvedere hike. We continued hiking to the Laura Woodward camp and spent the night there. This day at that elevation was incredibly windy and bit on the chilly side. We attempted to start a camp fire, but it was a challenge to keep it going with damp wood and so much wind. We settled into our tent about 7:30 pm – before dark, but had a great nights sleep and headed out early to climb Doll Peak and finish at Vt. route 105.

Again, the Jay Peak hike was about 10 miles in its entirety, but was a much easier 10 miles, though I was still sure I was not ready for that mileage in a single day, and certainly not over 10 days. And of course, by this time it was mid August and I was about to return to the school year routine, which would seriously reduce my availability for two day hikes.

These experiences have been wonderful because it gave my sister and I hours together to be sisters. We talked at length about our past, our families, our interests, and our dreams. Until now we have not taken the opportunity to be together in this way and I hope that we will have many more opportunities next spring and summer and on into my retirement years – which I hope are not too far away. Marie has many ideas for two or three day hikes and I look forward to planning those with her.

Whether it’s a sibling, a friend, a spouse ~ I would encourage you to venture out on the trails. It’s a wonderful way to see the best of Vermont and just plain good for the soul.

Little Surprises

Sunday morning was the perfect day for traveling around the beautiful Northeast Kingdom taking photographs. I had my heart set on seeing a moose standing in front of a delicious backdrop of fall colors. I should know by now, that life rarely gives us exactly what we think we want, but sometimes provides us with things that we never expected.

On a back road, somewhere in the vicinity of Newark Pond, Bald Hill Pond, and Long Pond we found a library. I have to say, this is the sweetest little library I’ve ever been to. I think you’ll agree when you see the photos.

Nature's Library - Copy

Seriously? You must agree that this is one sweet little library! And you would NEVER expect to come across something like this in the middle of the backwoods of the northeast.

Needless to say, I was delighted. Inside the library cabinet, in addition to an eclectic mix of books available for borrowing, there was a little notebook and some writing implements.

Library notes 2 - Copy

It was such fun to read what others thought when coming across this library hidden in the woods. As you can see, everyone thought it was super. There were several pages of notes from passersby. . .

Library notes 3 - Copy

I especially enjoyed the recommendation that the library include more modern/mystery books. 🙂

I spent a few minutes looking over the selection and selected a Jeffrey Archer book for my husband.

The sign said the library was closing October 15 for the season and would reopen in May. I didn’t want to miss my chance for a good read.

Nature's Library 3 - Copy

I read through the notes and most reflected the writer’s appreciation for this act of kindness and generosity. One person mentioned that she and another had done a tandem bike trip and created 25 little libraries along the way! How awesome is that?

Library notes 4 - Copy

So there you have it. Nature’s library.

Just goes to show, you never know what you will discover when you head out for a day of adventure.

By the way – I did get some great shots of the foliage as well.

Bald Hill Pond 7 - Copy

Jobs Pond Adventure

Saturday was an all around perfect day.

It began with meeting up with good friends Jackie and Del for a round of golf. I received a belated birthday gift from Jackie, which is too cute not to share!

Check our my new flip flops:
birthday flops (2)
Are they not the cutest things you’ve seen in awhile? And perfect for pre and post-golf fun!
Thank you Jackie!

I earned my lowest score ever for the front nine at Barton, so already it was the perfect day. But, it got even better when we packed a picnic and headed to Jobs Pond in Westmore for a kayaking adventure.

jobs pond map

Before we paddled we had the best picnic ever! It included Mexican Chicken Salad, Fresh Potato Salad, Amazing Fruit Salad (with whipped cream!), Delicious Zucchini Bread, Fresh Garden Veggies, Chips, Beers, and Wine!

When we hit the water it was great fun. I’ll let the pictures speak to the good time we had:

There were brothers out kayaking and the elder one became my loon guide of sorts. He chatted about the loons in general and offered to help herd them for my photography shoot. How sweet is that? He was very helpful!

My loon guides

My loon guides

The young man seemed to have a way with the loons and they were not the least bit afraid of the kayaks.cohabitating 2 - Copy

Loon Family

Loon Family

I know that the young of Loons are called chicks, but I prefer to call them Loonlings (like ducklings and goslings, right?)



It wasn’t hard to know where the loons were as one of the adults was having a very rigorous preening session.



They are just spectacular to watch – so peaceful.

Loon 6

Loon 6

Hi, Mom.

Hi, Mom.

There are only a few camps on the pond, but they had some distinct character.

jobs pond camp wc - Copy
jobs pond stone camp 2 - Copy

And here are my good friends enjoying their time on the pond.

kayaking friends - Copy

Thanks to all for a wonderful day! And thanks again to Asa and Kattie for the use of the kayaks! We sure are enjoying them 🙂

The Radar Base

There’s an abandoned radar base in The Northeast Kingdom. I’m not going to go into its history here, but if you want to read a bit more click this link to an article from the Bangor Daily News written about it in 2000.

Today, my contribution about the radar base is a poem I wrote from a prompt. . . write about a landmark. Below the poem I’ve included photos from our last visit to this landmark. You never know where you’ll find something interesting.

The Radar Base

What did the cold war have to do with
a little mountain in the north of Vermont?
Where we feared the weather more than the Russians.
Yet, following the media frenzy and government paranoia
we built this tin town,
and housed more residents at the peak
than lived in the valleys.
Shivering in the cold, they waited.

View from East Haven

View from East Haven

It seems to go on forever

It seems to go on forever

Huffin' and a puffin'

Huffin’ and a puffin’

What a view!

What a view!

200 Miles, There and Back

You don’t have to travel far to feel like you are a long way from home. Earlier this summer my husband suggested we take a weekend to explore the Magog region at the northernmost point of Lake Memphremagog.

Previous summers found us boating on the lake, crossing the border and cruising as far as Georgeville and exploring Fitch Bay, but we had never been to Magog.

I booked a room for us at The Manoir des Sables in Orford, about four miles north of Magog.

It proved to be the ideal spot. It had all the things we enjoy – proximity to the Lake; bike trails; hiking at nearby Mont Orford; an outdoor swimming pool; a small lake with kayaks, canoes and paddle boats; a spa with indoor pool, hot tub and various other Nordic type spas; a golf course (actually two); and a gourmet restaurant on site.

As we traveled from Jay Peak, where we spent the first night of this long weekend, we went through Newport in the midst of ground breaking news and got some shots of the devastation from moments before.

Traveling north around the eastern side of Lake Memphremagog, passing over Fitch Bay, we viewed this ‘castle’ from afar and vowed to learn more about it before returning home.

After a grueling day of traveling across foreign borders and driving for over an HOUR we checked in and headed for the pool to relax.

Ahh, such relaxation!

That night we splurged on a lovely dinner at the hotel restaurant, Les Jardins. It was scrumptious.

Our room looked over the small lake in the back and gorgeous sunrises.

The next morning we biked into the city of Magog. We went in on the main route, 141, and headed for the nearest information center. There we discovered there were extensive cycling trails in the area and we could access them all the way back to Manoir des Sables. We explored the city of Magog a bit, planning to come back in the evening for dinner. In my mind I’d been expecting Magog to be a quaint french village, but it felt more like a Hampton Beach to me. I did enjoy the park area built along the lake for walkers and cyclists, with it’s scenic places to sit and enjoy the peacefulness of the lake.

We ended up going into Magog twice more during our stay. Friday night we ate at The Liquor Store, downtown. I picked it because I liked the classic rock music the live band was playing. There was no wait because this place has ‘getting them in and out fast’ down to a fine art. Dave had a nice salmon dinner and I enjoyed a spicy honey chicken breast sandwich. It was good, but too noisy for us to talk.

Saturday night we dined at L’Ancrage on the terrace. It is located on the Route Verte cyling trail overlooking the lake. I was thrilled to see mussels on the menu, so that’s what I ordered, provençale. They were DELICIOUS! Our meal was served with a full basket of bread, including herb bread sliced thin and baked to a yummy crunchiness, which was perfect to dip in the musselly provençale juices.

At the hotel there are actually two golf courses. A little par 3 where you can play as much as you want for $7.00 and the 18 hole professional course, which was busy, busy, busy.

One day we visited the public beach in Magog. The view of Owls Head more than 20 miles away was perfect.

The beach – not so much. The ‘sand’ was dirty, the water milfoily, and the bottom mucky, mucky, mucky. The swimming area is roped off, only allowing you to go to a depth waist-high.

Another day we traveled to Parc National du Mont-Orford. It cost us $22.00 to enter the park where we could swim at a small beach that was part of the campground there. We did access the bike trails, covering about 7 km. One stop was La Sarracenie, a cabin where hikers can spend a night. The cabin was complete with multiple bunk beds, a gas stove, kerosene lanterns, running water and an outhouse.

Oh, and this peaceful setting.

We left Sunday, traveling toward Owls Head to check out the ski area and golf courses there. Along the way we did stop at that ‘castle’ seen earlier from the other side of the Lake.

It isn’t actually a castle, but the Abbey of Saint Benoit du Lac.

Being Sunday the monks were in the midst of mass. We were allowed to stroll through and observe. It was a peaceful visit.

Owls Head was our last stop. The ski area was totally abandoned with no available information for hiking in the area. We stopped briefly at the golf course for information. It’s another gorgeous northeast course.

Soon we were over the border and home again. All this done in about 200 miles, round trip. Though we were so close to home it felt like, well, like being in a foreign country.

Okay, we were in a foreign country. One where I think we’ll spend more time in the future.

Bonjour, por maintenant!