Welcome to my Blog

This is the first time I have ever blogged so mistakes will likely be the order of the day! This past winter I committed myself to hiking the Vermont Long Trail (LT) in a series of day and overnight hikes over the course of hopefully no more than two summers. I have decided to create a blog to document my adventures and to provide a chance for any photos I take to be viewed by anyone interested in hiking in general or the LT specifically. I am a novice hiker whose prior experience basically consists of earning the hiking merit badge as a 12 year old. My father and I took five 10-mile hikes and one 20-mile hike as a part of earning the badge in 1974. Since that time I have hiked occasionally but never seriously. I was a long distance runner for many years and am in better than typical shape though in recent years my focus has been on weight lifting more than on endurance activity. I expect the trek to be challenging but manageable.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Chittenden Brook Trail Day Hike - Can you see the Orb that I saw in the Woods?

On Saturday, August 23, 2008 I was able to slip away and take a shorter than usual hike. I chose to hike about 8 miles on the Chittenden Brook Trail. I have been busy the past couple of weeks and have not been able to get out like I would like to. I took my youngest son, Beau, to college at Western Kentucky University last week and, while there, was able to get out on a 14 mile day hike on the Millenium Trail in Burnheim Forest near Louisville, KY. I only had shorts and. since the hike, I have been enduring a nasty Poison Ivy rash on both of my lower legs.

The Chittenden Brook Trail is located just outside Rochester, VT off of Rt. 73. It is named after the first Governor of Vermont - Thomas Chittenden. The trail head is at 1,395 ft. and for the first 1.8 miles follows a gentle incline along the banks of Chittenden Brook. It is a beautiful stream and I have included several pictures in this post. If anyone from outside VT visits me here and wishes to go on a hike - this would be a nice representative hike with great scenery and not too demanding a trail. At 1.8 miles I come to a 0.1 mile spur leading down to a relaxing Beaver Pond. I pause here to sit on a bench and look out over the pond. Back on the trail I quickly come to the Ruth Johnston spur that leads 0.4 miles down to a campground run by the US Forest Service. I decide to hike this if I feel good on the way back.
After crossing the Brook I begin a lengthy and, at times, steep climb up to the trail's intersection with the Long Trail. I arrive at this point, 3.9 miles into the hike and 2,951 ft above sea level, after 1 hour and 45 minutes of trekking, so I have made very good time even though I have climbed over 1,600 ft in elevation.
The trip down is a piece of cake and I arrive back at the Johnston Trail intersection ready to hike over to the campground. The campground has 17 primitive campsites with no running water and two outhouses it appears. Only about five sites are being used probably because none of them are right on the water. It would be okay for an overnight camping trip but no place to spend a week. The road that I parked on to start the hike is the same as the road that leads to the campsite (USFS 45) so I decide to hike the 1.7 miles back to my car along the gravel road rather than re-hike the same route I've already followed. I arrive at my car at 3:45 pm meaning it has taken me 3.5 hours to hike 8 miles.

This would be a good hike for someone wanting to get a feel for hiking in VT. You could start where I did and go to the Beaver Pond, follow that by going to the campground, and then return to your car by the gravel road. The total distance would be about 4.2 miles and you would avoid the rugged climb up to the LT.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Route 4 to Brandon Gap - Stage Six - Overmight Hike

This hike started on Route 4 near the Inn at the Long Trail in Killington, Vermont (1,880 ft) and traveled North to Brandon Gap. I arrive at the start at 9:30 am on a beautiful day with the weather forecast calling for scattered thunderstorms this evening. My son, Jon, who turned 21 on Thursday, was supposed to go with me but decided to forego the experience at 9:00 pm last night so I continue to make the journey on my own.

Within one mile of my start I arrive at Maine Junction.
This is where the Appalachian Trail and the Long Trail separate with the AT heading east to New Hampshire and, ultimately, 467 miles to its northern terminous while the LT continues north to Canada. At 1.4 miles I arrive at the Tucker-Johnson Shelter (Built 1969, sleeps eight, 2,250 ft). The trail is not as hilly as previous sections I have been on, but the footing is not so good so I am only able to average about 2 miles an hour over the first five miles. With little change in elevation I arrive at Rolston Rest Shelter (Built 2004, sleeps 8, 2,240 ft) after 5.0 miles on the trail. Continuing north, I pass several vistas giving me a brief view of the Chittenden Reservior, one of which is my lead picture to this post.

I now begin to ascend to Green Road, a private drive that crosses the trail (2,500 ft) before descending into Telephone Gap (2,300 ft). For the life of me I see no evidence of a telephone or telephone lines so I can't fathom why it has such a name. I have now hiked 11 miles and am feeling well as I start to ascend the south slope of Mt Carmel. The weather quickly becomes threatening and a lightning storm passes to the south of me but largely misses where I am at. At about 12 miles, however, another one comes through and this one is vicious. I hear lightning stikes just south of me and am pummelled by peanut-sized hail as I scramble to reach the next shelter. On unsure footing, in a pouring hailstorm, I practically jog the remaining one mile in about 20 minutes. The hail stings my arms a bit, but other than that, and being soaked, I arrive at David Logan Shelter with no harm done.(Built 1976, sleeps 8, 2,760 ft).
I have travel 13 miles today. I intended to follow the New Boston trail, a side trail, out and back for a total of 2.0 miles in order to be able to mark that trail down as complete, but the rain is too hard and I'm cold and wet. I strip down to my boxers and hang my clothes to dry in the shelter (fat chance of that). My backpack has done its job and items enclosed are only a bit damp. I sread out my pad and sleeping bag and decide to go to bed early. It's only 7:30 but it feels much later.

Within an hour I'm awakened by two noisy hikers who come in from the rain. About 15 minutes after that, two more even noisier hikers arrive. They chatter and carry on, sharing loud stories of the rain without regard for the old man trying to go to sleep. After about 15 minutes of this rude banter I turn towards them and the one female says, "Oh! Your awake...What's your trail name?" I reflect for a moment and say "Serial Killer" and then roll back over to face the cabin wall. I think they caught my drift as they were much quieter the rest of the night.

I awake at 7:00 am before the wild ones and quietly pack up to head out. I fill my water pack as I leave the shelter at a spring about 50 yards from the camp and decide to eat my breakfast while hiking. Considering how wet I was last night, I feel pretty good this morning. The only problem is that my shoes are soaked and, in no time, my fresh socks are wet as well.

I continue to climb Mt. Carmel a short ways and then drop to Wetmore Gap (2,600 ft). I then begin to climb the east ridge of Bloodroot Mountain, what a great name,
as it begins to start drizzling again. By the time I reach Bloodroot Gap (3,110 ft) it is raining steadily and I am starting to get a blister on my right pinky toe due to the wet shoes and socks. This section of the trail is only marked sporatically by white blazes so I'm constantly concerned I may have taken the wrong path (even though there are few, if any, other paths to choose from). I cross several nice streams although it is overcast out and the pictures don't do them justice.

I slab the east ridge of Farr Peak in the rain and pick up the pace as I descend along a nice trail to Sunrise Shelter (Built 1964, sleeps 8, 2,564 feet) I have now hiked 19+ miles and only have one mile to go. It is raining too hard to break out the camera and I decide to stop for a while at the shelter to squeeze the water out of my socks and maybe let the rain pass by.

The rain slacks off after a 30 minute wait and I decide I might as well finish up. I quickly come to a beautiful stream that, once again, isn't well-captured by a camera in the overcast weather. It takes me only 25 minutes to hike to Vt. 73 and Brandon Gap.

I have hiked just over 20 miles, with fairly limited ups and downs, but in the nastiest weather to date. I'm actually feeling good at the end and feeling like I could go on for several more miles if I needed to. It was probably a good thing Jon chose to sit this one out as it would not have been a good introduction to overnight hiking.