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, October 12, 2009

Stage 18 - LT Day Hike from Davis Neighborhood Trail to Rte.15/118

On Sunday, October 11, 2009 my wife and I head out in the cars to drop me at the start of the Davis Neighborhood Trail. The weather looks ominous as we drive north. We drop the return car at Belvidere Pond on Rt. 15 in a steady drizzle with the temperature in the upper 30's. We drive south to the trailhead of the Davis Neighborhood Trail(1,200 ft). As we reach the trail the sun breaks through for the first time all day. It is to remain sunny my entire hike.

I drive partway up the trail (this is allowed) as the trail follows an old roadway. after about a half mile I decide it's getting too rough and turn around so Kim can drive out. I begin my hike at 11:00 am. It is a short 1 mile back up to Corliss Camp (1,900 ft) and I make excellent time as the trail is easy. I turn north on the Long Trail and begin a steady 1 mile climb to the summit of Butternut Mountain (2,715 ft). The summit is marked with a US Geological Survey brass marker.

I begin to descend the north slope of Butternut and realize that I have been walking on frost/light snow ever since I rose above 2,500 ft. It is so mild it is not even slippery. I don't become aware of it until I'm descending and having to watch my step more carefully. i would characterize the foliage a few days past prime, but it is still breathtaking to be walking in such beautiful surroundings. As I descend I pass a few brief clearing that afford a view of the valley below.

As I bottom out from the mountain I reach Basin Brook. It has been a number of hikes since I have come across a stream that compares with the beauty of the ones I saw in southern Vermont, but now that I am north of Mt. Mansfield they are beginning to get enchanting again.

The bottoms at this point are fairly soggy and I am glad that, for the first time, I have worn gaiters over my boots and lower legs. This keeps my sock dry. As I descend rapidly I jump out onto a old roadway and come face to face with a huge Moose. The Moose is about 50 feet away from me and is as startled as I am. She (no antlers) turns and wobbles/runs across the road and into the woods. She stands taller than I am so I'd put her at 6 feet tall and older as she is very grey around the muzzle. I am unable to get my camera out in time so I take a shot of the closest living thing I can think of - Me!

I continue to descend towards Spruce Ledge Camp. It is 5.4 miles from the summit of Butternut To the spur leading to the Camp and along the way I climb to small summits that make up Bowen Mountain. Other than that the hike is mostly downhill. It is not terribly steep but it is damp and fall leaves cover the trail so it is slippery. I fall twice. the first time I am rounding a corner too fast and my back legs hits my front and I am thrown off the trial onto my side. No damage done - just wounded pride and a lecture to myself to be more careful. The second time I step on a downward sloping rock that I do not notice because of the leaves and my feet fly out from under me. I land hard on my left hip and, as I write this entry it is sore and beginning to bruise.

At the Spur I turn uphill and hike 830 feet to Spruce Ledge Camp (built 1998, sleeps 8, 1,515 ft). The camp is pleasant and well made, with a separate picnic shelter that is very close to a nice view of Ritterbush Pond in the distance. I pause here for the first time today to drink some Gatorade and catch my breath. It is 2:10 pm and I don't even think about eating anything.

Soon I continue downhill along a pretty stream towards Devils Gulch (1,260 ft). Devils Gulch is described as a challenging set of boulders and rocks that hikers must work their way through. It really wasn't that bad but it took a while to get through it. The pictures to the right and below left show part of the path I have to navigate. It is bordered by steep cliffs and is an awesome sight. The picture at the top of this blog entry shows one sidewall of the crevice.

From here it is a short hike to the intersection with the Babcock Trail (1,100 ft). Along this route I encounter a pleasant waterfall/cascade.

I turn east and follow the Babcock, a trail I've hiked before, for a short 1.4 miles to Rt. 15. This trail passes by Big Muddy Pond, whose name still perplexes me as there is nothing muddy about the pond at all. I arrive at Rt. 15 at 3:45 pm having hiked just over 10 miles at just over a 2.0 mile per hour pace. I pause at the car to take three photos of Belvidere Pond. You can see the peak of Belvidere mountain off in the distance of one of the shots - my next challenge on the LT.