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.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Stage 22 - The End of the LT and Journey's End Trail

On Tuesday, June 8, 2010 I simultaneously finish both the Long Trail and all the recognized side trails. I am the 9th person in 2010 and the 3,813 person to ever officially finish the LT and I am the 2nd person this year and only the 12th ever to officially finish all of the side trails.

I arrive at VT 105 and the LT (2,150 ft above sea level) at 10:00 am. Kim drops me off and I immediately begin a short ascent of Carleton Mountain. As I round the second turn in the trail, not 200 yards in, I almost step on the snake pictured to the right. He refuses to move so I pick him up with my hiking staff and place him off the trail to continue.

The climb up Carleton Mountain (2,670 ft) is a short 1.2 miles and I fairly jog up with eagerness to finally finish the Long Trail. There is ashort spur off the trail to a ledge that affords a view to the south over the trail I have come these past 270 miles. That picture is to the left.

The descent is also quite pleasant, a mere 1.4 miles to the Canadian border. Less than a quarter mile down a clearing opens up and I'm able to take a picture of Canada to the north (picture above). I make even better time down the mountain than up and arrive at the northern terminus of the LT after a total of 2.6 miles hiked in 70 minutes. I climb a rock about 20 yards past the sign pictured at the top center of this post and I take the photo to the right of Canada. I also take a shot of a survey marker in the Center of the rock I climb.

I then begin my search for the US/Canada sign post. I wander around some indiscriminate bushwhacked trails searching for the post and just about give up thinking that the little marker on the rock must be all there is when I decide to climb the rock again. I climb down the other side and see the post. I imagine a number of hikers have come all this way and not seen it. It says "Treaty of Washington" on one side and gives the date of the treaty on the other. Remember, you can click on a picture to see a larger image.

After killing about 5 minutes on the border, I decide not to seek asylum in Canada and begin my hike down the final side trail, appropriately called Journey's End Trail. A short but muddy 0.6 miles later I come to Journey's end Camp (1,720 ft, built 2003, sleeps 8). Just past the camp I arrive at a stream crossing that has a rope to help you climb the slanted rock on the other side. This is a new twist on stream crossing that i have not seen elsewhere on the trail.

Another 0.7 miles and I arrive at the trailhead where Kim is parked and waiting for me. It has taken me well under two hours to hike 4 miles and, aside from a muddy final mile, the hike has been pleasant. Kim takes a picture of me at the finish and, as I climb into the car to leave, it begins to rain.

We drive to Stowe, Vermont where the headquaters of the Green mountain Club are located. I deliver a hard copy of this entire blog and they certify me as a completer of both the end-to-end and the side-to-side requirements. They give me a couple of patches and certificates, congratulate me, sell me a t-shirt and a ball cap, and send me home to shower.

I recall a sign that was hand written over the inside door frame of the Journey's End Camp shelter that said "The mass of men lead lives of quite desperation". It is a quote from Walden by Henry David Thoreau (a book I have read twice and love). It occurs to me that this extended hike has been a good break for me, allowing me to disconnect from society for a while and enoy the outdoors, isolation, and exercise. In three days I will be moving to Florida to start a new job in the Panhandle. I commit to doing what I can to keep my efforts there from becoming anything close to "quiet desperation".

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Finishing Up the Side Trails on Mount Mansfield

On Memorial Day, 2010. My wife and I paid the $25 to drive up the toll road to the top of Mount Mansfield, the tallest mountain in Vermont. We arrived at 9:45am with the intent to have Kim explore the top and perhaps read a book and enjoy the view, while I hike for three hours finishing up the side trails I have not yet done up top. As we approach the Visitor's Center a Trail Guide asks me my plans and I tell. She tells us I'd better plan on more than three hours to cover all I expect to do. I disregard her.

I leave Kim in a nice spot near the Long Trail and return to the TV road the find the start of the Amherst Trail. It takes a few minutes but I find it and am off. This trail is 0.3 miles long as is relatively easy. I reach the end and backtrack 0.2 miles track to the start of the Cliff Trail.

The Cliff trail is a tough 1.1 miles and the guidebook does not recommend it for backpackers because of the tight crevices you must pass through. It takes me 80 minutes to cover the trail making it the slowest mph I have made on any route to date. Along this trail I navigate three ladders and work my way through 3-4 very tight spots, not to mention a number of places where a fall would mean serious trouble.

I arrive at the LT winded but otherwise in good shape. I now hike 0.2 miles up Mt. Mansfield to the start of the Profanity Trail. I did this trail before but descend it for 0.5 miles to get to the Hell Brook Cutoff Trail. The descent is steep but manageable.

I Take the Hell Brook Cutoff Trail from just below Taft Lodge on the LT. This trail is 0.7 miles long and ends at the Hell Brook Trail. The path is narrow and there is one spot where I must sit on a wet slippery rock and slide about eight feet laterally to solid ground on the other side. If I slip I will likely slide down the rock for about 10 feet into an area that will be a challenge to climb out of. I do begin to slide downwards, but am able to slide at an angle and not descend to the bottom.

At Hell Brook Trail I turn up and climb 0.4 miles to the Adam's Apple Trail. along the way I realize the mathematical mistake I made to day. I had totaled up the number of minutes I expected each segment of today's hike to take and calculated it would take 295 minutes. When I stupidly converted this to hours, I came up with 3.0 hours instead of 5.0 hours. thus, I've left Kim on top of the mountain expecting me back two hours before I am going to actually get there. I'm tired and the climbing is tough, but I am a few minutes ahead of my 295 minute estimate at this time.

I ascend the Adam's Apple Trail 0.2 miles to its intersection with the LT. Along the way I reach Eagle Pass and look backwards to see the beautiful Lake of the Clouds. I soon reach the LT and turn north to descend 0.3 miles back to the intersection of the LT with Profanity trail, thus completing a 1.6 mile loop.

I now face a 0.5 mile climb back up the Profanity trail and I know it will be challenging. My right foot keeps wanting to cramp as I climb, but luckily it doesn't. It takes 32 minutes and four of those are one minute rest stops, but I make it to the top and back to the LT.

I retrace my LT steps from earlier today for about 0.3 miles until I come to the Subway. The subway is a short 0.3 mile trail that works its way beneath the west side of Mansfield. I'm tired and this makes the route a challenge. The photo to the left shows the final pass and climb I take up from the Subway. I return to the LT and continue south.

In short order I reach the Canyon North Extension. As soon as I start down the trail I realize I have hiked it before - last summer. Therefore, I return to the LT and work my way the last mile to where Kim is waiting for me in the car. It turns out she was not worried about even though I told her 3 hours and it took 4 hours and 45 minutes.

This will be my last hike on this mountain. It is a challenging mountains and most of the toughest hikes I have taken have been here.

One more hike and the whole event is finished!