Trip Reports January – April 2013 (updated 1/19/14)

4/28/13 Wildflower Hike at Niquette Bay State Park
For the past several years, I have scheduled a wildflower hike at Niquette Bay State Park on the last weekend in April since that is usually when the wildflowers peak. April seemed colder than usual this year, and a week before the scheduled date of the hike there were very few wildflowers to be seem. But, fortunately it warmed up just in time and we saw 15 varieties of wildflowers in bloom, with others just about ready to bloom. We started the hike by going out the Ledges Trail, which always has the best selection of flowers, and looping back on the Allen Trail. At that point, a few participants had to leave the group. The rest of us did an out and back hike to the Island View Point, where we were rewarded with a few more flowers and a lovely view of Malletts Bay, the broad lake and the islands. Including a stop for lunch and another stop for the view, we were out about three hours. Leader: Sheri Larsen; Participants: Jennifer Jany, Paul Paris, Maggie King, Jean Cannon, Debbie Page, Joan MacKenzie, Cathy Frank, Joe Frank, Jean Anderson, Julie Soquet, Dot Myer, Rich Larsen
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4/14/13 Mount Abe
As of 24 hours before the scheduled trip, we had 12 people signed up, but were looking at a rather unsettled weather forecast. Then, in those last 24 hours, four people pulled out because of the forecast, another two claimed infirmities, and one high-ranking GMC official who will remain unidentified claimed he had to do his taxes instead. (Clearly a case of misplaced priorities with this last guy.) […. he is so high-ranking, he could have edited this entry to save face, but decided to indulge Sir Richard in his little folly… The Editors] The forecast was for temperatures near freezing, and possible precipitation on the mountain, but that did not deter the five hardy people who showed up for the hike. We had planned to go from Lincoln Gap, but there was an unconfirmed report that it could not be reached even from the west, so we went for Batelle Trail instead. Everyone carried snowshoes, but they were never needed, as the snow / ice / crust was hard-packed. We started up the trail just before 10 AM, and reached the spruce forest in a little less than an hour, by which time there was constant precipitation in the form of graupel. We kept up a good pace, and reached the shelter in one hour 20 minutes. After a short period for all to put on microspikes of various sorts, we headed to the summit in what was now a decent snowstorm, reaching the top just after noon. The wind was not bad on top, and the temperatures not too cold, but the snow was wet, so we headed down after a short time, and reached the shelter again for lunch. Everyone kept the microspikes on until we reached the cars, because it was very slippery, even though the spikes were icing pretty badly on the lower mountain. We eventually got down to the cars just before 2 PM. During the drive back, we were in the rain for a while. Clearly we had good karma of some sort to have been able to do the hike in what were actually acceptable conditions, with all the precipitation having been somewhat solid and therefore not too wet. Participants – Dean Wiederin, Cathy Tilley, Lisa Charland, Peter Cottrell, Leader Richard Larsen.

4/7/2013 Sterling Pond
The call had been made Friday evening to go ahead with the hike in the face of 50% chance forecasts of snow, sleet, freezing rain, and rain. And although the forecast probability had fallen to 30% by Sunday morning, I was doubting that earlier decision after seeing significant sleet falling upon awakening that morning. But it let up on the way to meet at the Richmond park & ride, and after a call confirming that our one missing participant wasn’t just late, but had decided to skip the hike, Dan, Dean, and Dave got into Dave’s car and drove to Stowe. Dean had also brought along Flat Stanley, who was in Vermont for a visit and a few photo ops during the hike. The snow surface was pretty hard, but we brought snowshoes in case the forecast warming during the day softened up the snow enough to make them necessary (it didn’t). The sky was overcast but there was no wind or precipitation falling as we started up 108 at 9:30. We soon reached the picnic area where the Long Trail north branches off to the right, crossed a couple brooks and then climbed up to where the trail starts slabbing across the slope above the northeast side of Rt 108. Dan and Dean opted for microspikes, but since we didn’t run into any real ice, Dave did without. As we approached Elephant’s Head the wind picked up significantly, so we put back on the shells we’d taken off earlier. We took the side trail down to the vista point at the top of Elephant’s Head, walking very carefully, as there was a little ice right next to the edge. We then headed back up to the trail. We’d been following tracks from previous hikers to this point, but we started reaching sections where the wind had obliterated them, and we also started running into a lot of ski tracks that were not on the Long Trail. So we managed to briefly get lost a couple times and came out on the wide road / ski trail a little south of the actual Long Trail. We reached Sterling Pond around 12:30, at which point the sun came out and we all donned our sunglasses. It was still windy, so we opted to wait for lunch, and quickly made our way down the Sterling Pond Trail to the notch. There we ate lunch in the shelter of the information booth, then headed down Rt. 108, reaching the car around 2 PM.
Trip leader: David Hathaway Participants: Dan Hildebrand, Dean Wiederin, Flat Stanley
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4/6/2013 Sunset Knob
Early spring is time to stay off the trails, and turn to bushwacking. Sunset Knob is the isolated western end of Sunset Ridge, and provides a closeup view of Mount Mansfield. Starting from Underhill State Park winter parking we headed up the road a short distance before striking northeast through the woods. After crossing the Browns River we picked up a ridge for the mile and a half to the knob. It was an easy trip up through a crusty six inches of snow. As you approach the Knob there’s a secret turn to avoid the spruce, unfortunately we turned too soon. Finding ourselves at the base of the final crag we scrambled nearly straight up to reach the top. After hanging out a while we exited via the secret door and wandered on down.
Trip Leader: Darryl Smith
Attendees: David, Dan, Mead, Jon and Fred

3/31/2013 Butler Lodge
When I’d signed up to lead this trip I hadn’t realized it was Easter Sunday. So I wasn’t too surprised when only one person expressed any interest in the trip, and they opted not to come. As an aside, I’ve sometimes heard people say “they don’t want to make me lead a trip” when I tell them they’re the only one signed up. The presence of reports for this trip and the one I did on March 3, both with no other (human) participants, should prove that, at least for me, I’ll probably do the trip whether anyone else joins me or not. And I believe the same is true for many other trip leaders. So don’t worry about being the first or only participant. Anyway, my wife’s dog, Orion, and I reached the almost empty parking areas and started up Butler Lodge trail about 9:20 AM. The trail was well packed, but was a little slippery to start, as the sun had not yet had a chance to soften up the surface. So I wore micro-spikes, but left snowshoes and poles behind. Even when I stepped off the trail to test the unbroken snow, I didn’t sink very far. The weather was sunny and in the upper 30s as we started, and warmed up to the 40s over the period of our short hike. The snow was still deep enough that the steps and ladder near the top of the trail were completely hidden under slopes of snow. We reached Butler Lodge around 10:30, then turned around and got back to the parking area by 11:05. No one else was seen on the trail going up or down, although we did see a few skiers on their way up Nebraska Notch when we got back to the car (and Orion was ready to take a second trip with them). Trip leader: David Hathaway Participants: Orion Greene (dog)

3/9/2013 Jay Pass (Rt. 242) to Hazens Notch (Rt. 58)
Six of us meet at the Montgomery market, and proceeded up Route 58 to Hazens Notch winter parking. Leaving two cars, we all crammed into one for the ride to Jay Pass. We were soon headed south with plenty of snow under our shoes, and not a cloud in the sky. The trail started out easy to follow, but the blazing soon alternated between fresh, ancient and non-existent. We reached Buchanan Mountain just in time for lunch. The woods are very open and park-like up there, which really lead to losing the trail, as there are no clippings to follow. Although the 6.8 miles turned into 7.6 with the additional wandering around, everyone thought it was a terrific trip. The trip to the cars was only a mile, which was much appreciated.
Trip Leader: Darryl Smith
Attendees: Bruce Bushey, Mary Lou Recor, Lynda Hutchins, David Hathaway and Laurelae Oehler.
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3/3/2013 Camels Hump Loop
I had two people express interest, but one opted for an easier hike and the other had a last minute work emergency. So I was on my own and took my time, getting started at 9:50 AM from the Burrows Trail trailhead at the Camels Hump State Park. The weather was overcast with low clouds, very light snow, and temperatures in the 20s F. When I signed in at the trail register I noticed that the person who had signed in just before me was planning the same route, but I never caught up. I took the cut over to the Forest City Trail and made pretty good time, reaching the Long Trail junction around 10:40 AM. From there I headed up the Long Trail, following a well broken trail that was probably made by someone who knew the trail, since it followed the Long Trail almost without error all the way to the cliffs on the south side of the Camels Hump summit. The packed trail split three ways at one point where it appeared someone had gotten lost, but they had nicely laid sticks down spelling “LT” with an arrow pointing (correctly) to the right path. As I climbed higher on the side of Camels Hump I entered the clouds, and as I reached the base of the cliffs the wind, which had been very calm, picked up and became fairly strong at the summit (though not nearly as strong as I’ve seen it there). I reached the summit at 12:20 PM, and as I started down to the hut clearing I had my first encounter of the day with another person, but I met quite a few more (maybe 8 or 10) on the way down Burrows Trail. The wind died down again below the hut clearing, and I got back to my car at about 1:20 PM. David Hathaway. DSCN1278

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3/2/13 Snowshoe Hike up Mt. Abe (via the Battell Trail)
The weather forecast was for temps in the valley around freezing and chance of rain, with cooler temps in the mountains and chance of snow. We never got any precipitation on the hike and the temperature was very pleasant for a winter hike. Although it was overcast and we were in the clouds at the top, the trail was very pretty with snow on the tree branches. And, the wind gusts that were in the forecast never materialized.
At the trailhead, we debated whether to put on snowshoes at the start or carry them with us. Most opted to put the snowshoes on right away. Those who didn’t ended up putting them on about 1/2 hour into the hike to avoid post-holing. The snow conditions were great for snowshoes – soft snow that wasn’t too deep but deep enough to cover most bumps in the trail and any ice at the top.
The group was quite experienced, so we made good time. The round-trip took only about 4 hours and 10-15 minutes and included lunch breaks at Battell Shelter on the way up and the way down as well as time for photos on the top of the mountain. At the end of the hike, participants were offered some treats — Valentine’s candy and/or Easter “Peeps” (those yellow marshmellow things). Trip Participants: Rich Larsen, Chuck Bond, Judy Bond, Jenny Lynch, Alan Botula, Scott Springer, Vince Broderick, Dean Wiederin, Mary Keenan, Lynda Hutchins; Trip Leader: Sheri Larsen
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2/24/13 Snake Mountain
Participating: Steve and Debbie Barret, Rachel Moulton, Dot Myer leader
We had comfotable weather but gray with no view at all. We didn’t use snowshoes; we used ice grippers on the way down but they didn’t seem necessary. A nice easy hike.

2/17 – Mt. Ethan Allen
We started our day with a temperature at 10 degrees and a wind chill factor of -15. Nine hardy souls hiked the Monroe Trail and Dean Trail to the Montclair Glen Shelter. Once there, we ducked inside out of the wind for a bite to eat. More hand warmers were coming out of packs to help us to stay warm. We switched from micro spikes to snowshoes for the climb to the summit of Ethan Allen. There were many others out that day skiing Ethan Allen and hiking Camel’s Hump. Montclair Glen Shelter was packed the night before with overnighters. The clouds were low so the views were limited. The following participants were Sunny Pinkham, Dean Wiederin, Steve Barrett, Deborah Manning, Frederick Royce, Helle Frost, Vincent Broderick, Jan Tobias and hike leader Carlene Squires

2/16/2013 North Jay Pass (Rt. 105) to Jay Pass (Rt. 242)
Five of us converged on the Long Trail where it crosses Route 242, and crammed into a single car for the short drive up to the Route 105 starting point. Donning our snowshoes we soon hit the trail under very cold, though sunny skies. The trail showed little use, with 12-18 inches of snow. Proceeding south we lost the trail at least half a dozen times, and relied on the signs of clipped branches and the occasional blaze to get us back on track. We finally lost it altogether near Doll Peak; we considered the alternatives, and if we would get out before dark. Continuing south we slabbed Doll Peak, bushwacking a mile to the Laura Woodward shelter, to pick it up again. After a quick lunch we struck out for Jay Peak, losing the trail a few more times before summiting. After the requisite photo op, we were pleased to find the descent packed down and very well blazed, and we were out with some daylight to spare. Cramming once again into a single car, up we went to get the second car. Everyone thought it was an awesome adventure.
Trip Leader: Darryl Smith
Attendees: Bruce Bushey, Marie-Christine Potvin, Mary Lou Recor and Tim Welsh. More Photos here!

2/10/13 Taylor Lodge ‘President’s Hike’
President’s Hike & Beginner’s Snowshoe. 10 Participants. This is the Annual President’s Hike the day after the Burlington Section Annual Meeting. This year was “special” as it included the outgoing(Phil Hazen) and the incoming (Ted Albers) President – and sometimes it was hard to tell whether we were coming or going. It was a frosty morning with wonderful sunshine as we headed out on the Nebraska Notch Trail to Taylor Lodge. Soon most of us were shedding layers. After a nice catered Dean & DeLuca lunch flown in on the private Burlington Section chopper (this was the President’s Hike, after all), we headed back and took the scenic route via the beaver ponds and back to the Stevensville Trailhead. Participants: Phil Hazen, Ted Albers, Kathy Adams, Maria Moore, Sunny Pinkham , Lenore Budd, Trevor Andrews, Sarah Andrews, Steve Gorin, Jean Anderson.

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02/03/2013 – Taylor Lodge & Lake Mansfield
We met at the Underhill Center commuter lot at 9, consolidated to two cars, and headed to the Stevensville parking area. The morning was cold (close to zero F), but warmed up rapidly with bright sunshine. We got our gear on and started up the Nebraska Notch trail at about 9:15 AM. After the thaw, rain, and freeze in the week preceding the trip, the surface was hard frozen snow with occasional patches of ice, so those with micro-spikes wore them, while others wore small snowshoes for traction rather than for flotation. We stopped briefly at Taylor Lodge to hydrate and snack, and then continued down the Lake Mansfield Trail. The ice in the waterfall just below the beaver ponds was pretty, but the ice on the trail was not so much so, and was much more extensive on this second leg of the trip. We also observed some of the old cellar holes next to the lower part of the trail. We took another break for water and lunch at the Lake Mansfield trailhead, then turned around and retraced our steps. We saw a fair number of people on the trail, and found a dropped glove a ways below the waterfall which we left on a branch overhanging the trail, since we didn’t know if it belonged to someone still going up or someone who had already gone down. It turned out that it belonged to Dan, who had charged ahead of the group, so when we saw him running down from Taylor Lodge in search of it we directed him to where we’d left it and he made it down to get it and back to Taylor before we were ready to leave. We made good time back to the parking area, reaching it around 1 PM. Trip leader: David Hathaway with Ashley Mikell, Andy Mikell, Ben Rose, Lori Fisher, Dean Wiederin, Dan Hildebrand
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2/2/2013 – GMC Porter Mtn. Trip Report
And then there were four….we met at the K-mart lot on the Shelburne Road in South Burlington at 7:15 am, took two cars across the pond to Keene Valley with one stop at the Stewart’s in Port Henry. And did we ever luck out. We were the last two vehicles that could have possibly fit into The Garden parking lot. Phil was actually tilted up on his side a bit, in a snow bank and Mark was a little bit in the parking space of a DEC ranger. But would they really visit this time of year? We hoped not. Headed out at approx. 9:30 am. The trail was well packed down at the start then we were breaking trail probably 2/3 of the way on the ascent. But while we had snowshoes, they were not necessary. Lost the trail about half a dozen times mostly in stream areas but it’s always so fun to lose and find, isn’t it??!! Hit the summit around 12:45. The only other humans we saw the entire day, with the exception of the lot, hit the summit moments after we did…a couple of us heard voices and good to know they were not in our heads but belonged to living, breathing folks!! Also spotted five hikers on top of Cascade. Beyond that peak, our view was blocked by near zero visibility. Toasted with Tim’s ever-present wine, then headed down, taking bets, in 15-minute increments, how long ’til we hit the lot. (Mark and I split the difference at 3:08 pm.) And our vehicles were there and in tact upon return to the lot! WooHoo for small wonders! All in all, this is a beautiful trail, with constantly changing landscapes – from wet to wooded to open with beautiful trees and shrubbery. Highly recommend! And then of course before heading back to the Greens, we stopped at the Noonmark for eats! Sandwiches, burgers and of course pie! Mark said the chowder was excellent! Back at K-mart at 6:30 pm. A super day all the way around!
Trip Leader: Robynn Albert Participants: Phil Hazen, Tim Welsh, Mark McLane Photo Credit: Phil and Tim
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Mark and Robynn on Porter Mt.

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1/26/13 Camel’s Hump trip report
We started as nine and as Saturday drew closer, we dropped to five. Met at the Richmond P&R at 9 am, then picked up Lynda at the trailhead to round out our group. Promptly started out on Forest City and made great time to the summit. Met only one person the entire ascent and then met up with others at the summit who came up from Burrows. Quite windy but what a beautiful crystal clear blue sky day as the time drew towards late morning, 12 Noon ish. Stopped briefly at the clearing hut for tea, water and munchies. Then made our way down via Burrows. A nice end to the day with a stop at the Bridge Street Cafe in Richmond for burgers, sandwiches, soup and beer. And of course entertainment by Lynda….ask her about a rabid fox, and driving a friend on the hood of her car!!
Trip Leader: Robynn Albert Photo Credit: No one! No one brought a camera due to not wanting to take gloves off in the cold, cold temps!!! iPhone was out of the question, too, for the same reason! Group: Mark Blanchard, Dan Hildebrand, Dean Wiederin and Lynda Hutchins

1/12/2013 Journeys End To North Jay Pass (Rt. 105)
The plan was to leave cars where the Long Trail crosses Route 105, drive up to the Journeys End trail head and hike south. After some consideration, to avoid the car drop, we headed north from Route 105 to just past Carlton Mountain, then bushwacked northeast to the Journeys End trail head, to start the trip south.
The trail up to Carlton Mountain consisted of mushy snow and wet spruce, under overcast skies. Crossing Carlton we soon started down, following a ridge line, leaving the mush and raining spruce behind, as well as picking a bit of sun. There was considerable evidence of moose, some still warm, but alas, no moose were spotted. A few snowshoe hares were spotted though. We broke out of the woods just east of the trail head, and started our return trip.
After enjoying a leisurely lunch at Journeys End Camp, we spent some time at the northern terminus of the Long Trail, checking out the border and taking photos. We uneventfully continued south, back to Carlton Mountain, and down to our cars. Snowshoes were required for the entire 7.3 miles, and a terrific time was had by all.
Trip Leader: Darryl Smith
Attendees: Bruce Bushey, Marie-Christine Potvin, Mary Lou Recor, Ami English, Angela Marquis, Dan Hildebrand, Scott Chilstedt and Chris Miller.
See some great photos here.

1/6/13 – Snowshoe Camels Hump
With waist deep snow, it was actually warmer than predicted… We bounded up the Monroe Trail and recruited new GMC members on the way up and down!
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1/5/2013 Dewey Bushwhack
The originally planned trip was a Mansfield Ridge traverse, but weather forecasts for the mountain top called for a high around 10F and winds over 40 mph for a wind chill in excess of -20F, so the trip was changed to a bushwack up Dewey. We met at the Underhll Center commuter lot at 9, consolidated to two cars, and headed to the Stevensville parking area (which was almost full). It was overcast and snowing as we started. We got our gear on and started up the Nebraska Notch trail at about 9:20, immediately branching left onto the Overland ski trail. Although we were looking for it, we never saw the Long Trail crossing, as white blazes on snow covered trees marking an unbroken trail are pretty hard to find. The trail was packed along the 1.9 miles to the Devil’s Dishpan just north of Dewey which reached around 10:35. From the Devils’ Dishpan we turned right, still following ski trails around to the east side of the Dewey ridge until we branched off at the sign to Bruce Trail and started breaking trail and bushwhacking up to the ridge. The sky started clearing, the temperature started dropping, and the wind (which was never too bad) subsided as we climbed the ridge, so by the time we reached the summit we had calm and cold air with sun and blue sky. The initial climb was steep through dense trees in spots, but opened out when we reached the ridge. We continued up the ridge, encountering and briefly following some old ski tracks, until we reached the first of several sets of very steep climbs at the 3 mile mark at about 12:20 PM. The final 0.3 miles to summit took an hour and 40 minutes, and saw us clawing our ways up several extremely steep climbs and breaking trail through snow that was occasionally chest deep, with everyone shared in the trail breaking work. We reached the summit at around 2 PM and almost missed the summit canister, as only a little bit of its red color was peaking out from the snow covering it. It was also solidly frozen shut, so we didn’t get to “log in”. After a few photos we started back down about 2:15, following our original trail, getting back to the cars around 4 PM. As Darryl noted, it took us only 5 minutes longer to complete the entire return trip than it did to climb the last 0.3 miles to the summit! Photos thanks to Darryl and Justin, detailed times and distances thanks to Darryl’s GPS track.
Trip leader: David Hathaway
Participants: Darryl Smith, Robynn Albert, Dan Hildebrand, Justin Siegel
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