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.

It’s That Time of Year!

Finally, finally, finally we had a moon bright night with relatively warm temperatures.

This motivated Dave and I to do our annual snowshoe hike up Burke Mountain Saturday evening.

We have been replicating this adventure for several years – a tradition that began in our early courting days.

Here’s the deal:

Dave, as a volunteer ski patroller on Saturdays, takes our skis and boots to the ski patrol shack at the top of the mountain during the day.
After dinner we get geared up with head lamps, snowshoes, and wine and make our way up the mountain. Last year I manipulated this map to show our path:

burke trail map copy

This year we selected a different route – we went via the Toll Road. It was a bit less challenging and a little longer, but it was an incredibly beautiful night to be out there!

groomer lights - Copy

That’s the groomer just cresting one of the slopes we’d just traveled up. Doesn’t that look peaceful?
We did have to contend with the noise of the groomer for the first thirty minutes, but then it was blissfully quiet.
It was also bright enough for us to see our way without the use of the headlamps.

Looking back from where we’d come you can see the lights of the new hotel being constructed at the base of the mountain.

hotel lights

It is always a feeling of accomplishment when we arrive at the ski patrol shack.

on the outside looking in. .

It was warm and cozy inside by the pellet stove, where we relaxed, had some wine, and caught up with one another on the busy week we’d just finished.

selfie

It is essential to document the experience with a selfie.

Unfortunately, the camera battery quit on me, so I wasn’t able to get any pictures of the ski down, but I will share a couple from past years. . .

It was worth it!

The pavillion

Those are from last year when we needed our lights to see because it was snowing so heavily!

We’re hoping we will get one more opportunity to do this before the 2015 ski season comes to a close. The next full moon is on April 4, so there’s a very good chance!

full moon 3-15-14

Wheeler Mountain 2013

On Saturday I went for a hike up Wheeler Mountain in Barton with my son and daughter-in-law.

It was the perfect day for a hike – cool, clear, and peak foliage.

Wheeler has always been one of my favorite hikes.

Partly because it is an interesting hike, with lots of glacial rock walls to cross.

Partly because in addition to the rocks there are lovely woods to walk through.

Partly because it’s a pretty short hike – about 45 minutes to the top.

Mostly because the views at the top are amazing.

Wheeler hike 2013 9

That’s looking down on Willoughby Lake.

Burke from Wheeler

In the distance is Burke Mountain – home sweet home!

Pisgah from Wheeler

That is Mt. Pisgah near the south end of Willoughby Lake.

Part of the fun of hiking is to take a look at the visitors’ book that is often tucked in a tree somewhere near the top of the trail. On the way up Asa and I talked about the last time we’d done this hike together and since we couldn’t remember, I was excited to look at the log books and see if we could find our last notes.

Unfortunately, though there were two notebooks tucked away, all the entries were from this year – 2013. Wow – a busy hiking season for Wheeler!

It was interesting to look through the visitors’ logs and see how far people had traveled to get to Wheeler.

DSC_0662

The entry in the log I found most interesting was this one:

note 1

GOOD FOR YOU! I said aloud! I found inspiration in those words. It made me think about all the times I had persisted through challenges and struggles that I thought might get me down. And I remembered how incredible it feels to achieve something you weren’t sure you could achieve! It can be life changing.

Note 3

I like to think this person is already planning a move BACK to Vermont, realizing how important it is to live in a place you love.

Enjoy the journey!

Wheeler hike 2013 3

Wheeler hike 2013 8

Wheeler hike 2013 7

Thanks for the memories Kattie and Asa!

Jay Peak – The Hike

We recently traveled to Jay Peak for an overnight stay. It was the beginning of a long weekend to celebrate our anniversary. We left mid morning for the one hour drive to the mountain. Our plan was to hike Jay.

My sister, who is an accomplished and well-traveled hiker, told me that this was one of her favorite hikes. She assured me that for the moderate effort there was a huge payoff.

The trail head is accessed from route 242, just a short drive beyond the ski area. All the literature we read told us the hike would take about four hours, round trip.

Hiking through the cool forest was most enjoyable. There is an abundance of plants and wildlife.

It has been very dry so the trail wasn’t slippery at all, but I imagine it would be during rainy times. There are a lot of rocks to maneuver and it is a fairly steady climb.

Near the top the trail emerges onto one of the ski trails. You can cross the trail and continue climbing the rocks to the Tram House. If you want to go the easy way just turn left and continue up the trail to the Tram House. Climbing over the rocks is worth it for the views, making you feel like you’re really on top of the world.

On these rocks at the peak are two memorial benches. I loved the sentiment on this one.

It says A place to sit, a place to be. A place to appreciate all we see.

My sister was right – you get a lot of bang for your buck (or your efforts).



The climb up took us about an hour and forty minutes. We kept a fairly steady pace, but did stop several times for photos and water breaks.

Jay does offer tram rides if you want to enjoy this incredible mountain but can’t make the climb yourself.

After enjoying a picnic lunch at the top we headed back down, which took about the same length of time. I prefer hiking down (because I sweat less), but it’s less pleasant for my husband and his stiff knees. Next up – the joys of staying at the Tram Haus Lodge and visiting points north.

Mt. Hor

Yesterday I hiked Mt. Hor in Sutton for the first time in years. This sign marks the official summit of the mountain. I had never seen it before because I never knew it existed.

My sister showed it to me. She said she discovered it not so long ago. She was amazed herself because she’s “been hiking that mountain for 25 years and never knew it existed.” Her story was that she had been reading Northeast Kingdom Mountain Trail Guide, which she had looked over many times. But, this one day she was reading it more carefully and that’s when she learned about this official summit. She and a hiking pal decided to look for it. I liked her reminder that sometimes you take things for granted. How many times have you ‘read’ a book, but not really read it? You never know what you might be missing. That’s today’s lesson – be thorough.

There is no taking this view of Mt. Pisgah for granted.

Or this one of the south end of Willoughby Lake.

I drove up the CCC road off of route 5A and met my sister at the trail head. The hike from there was relatively easy. There are different vistas to explore once you near the top.

We chose the North Lookout first for the WOW factor. We reached this point in about a half hour. We saw a mother Partridge and her Cheepers. It’s amazing to watch the mother do her ‘broken wing dance’ in an attempt to draw you away from her babies. We also heard a moose crashing through the woods, though didn’t get a good look at it.

Most of our 3 hour trip was taken up enjoying the views and catching up with each other, not actually hiking. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and I thank my sister for the invite.