Trip Reports January – April 2015 (Updated 4/19/2015)

4/19/15 LaPlatte Paddle
Yes, the ice had melted, but we did see snow here and there in the shadows, and mounds of ice still stuck to the cliffs. Fortunately no one dumped, as the water was bitterly cold. Also, saw a Canadian goose looking comfortable on the Osprey nesting tower, and looking as out of place as any bird could be. Was it the view, or was she stuck way, way up there? The water level in the river was low for this time of year (the lake level is a foot below normal for this week, now about 97’).  The photo is of Chuck clearing a log jam which greatly enhanced river traffic for all. Thanks to all for a great paddle.  Participants: Laura Benis; Kevin Kelley, aka Popeye; Karl Riemer; Lynda Hutchens; Chuck Soule, with Ted Albers, leader.
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4/12/2015 – Vergennes to Middlebury bicycle
We were nine hikers on bikes.
Farewell to mittens and spikes.
And here is the reason,
For during mud season,
‘Tis better to ride than to hike.

Mary Lou Recor, leader

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4/11/2015 – Mt Hunger & White Rock
Four of us met at 8:30 at the Richmond park and ride and took two cars to the Waterbury Trail trailhead. The weather was overcast and cold (for April) with a trace of snow in the air (and a lot on the ground) as we started up at 9:10. A couple folks started out with snowshoes, others with microspikes, and one with just boots. The trail was hard packed, but had ice in patches which prompted the last holdout to don microspikes about a third off the way up. Reggie (Adam’s dog)was full of energy and led the group most of the way, except when he was running back and forth between the front and back of the group. Near the top the wind picked up and the temperature dropped, and we all donned shells or warmer clothes.. We reached the Mt Hunger summit around 11. The forecast had been for a high in the mid 40s F and for above freezing all day, but a frozen hydration tube proved that forecast incorrect. When we got down to the spur trail to White Rock, the trail was much less traveled, and all but one of us put on snowshoes. That worked for a while, but a couple post holes caused the last holdout to join the rest in snowshoes. The deep drifted and frozen snow made a lot of the rocky approach to the White Rock summit much easier than in summer; the notch you have to climb up was very short, with probably 10 feet of drifted snow allowing on to walk up to it rather than climb. We reached White Rock summit around noon, then started down and stopped for lunch out of the wind on the east side of Whit Rock. From there we headed down. The snow on the lower part of the mountain had softened up a bit, so most of us kept snowshoes on all the way back to the cars, though a couple traded them for microspikes. We reached the cars around 1:50. Participants: Judy Harvey, Mark McLane,  Adam Ahlquist (& dog Reggie), Wes Volk, David Hathaway (trip leader).

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4/4/2015 – Sterling Pond
Judy and I met in Richmond. From there we picked up Jen in Waterbury and were off to Stowe. Road conditions were iffy with freezing rain the night before with an inch of snow over the top of that, yep another Vermont Spring day. We arrived at the gate to the closed section of 108 in Stowe. We geared up and started our journey to the Elephants head trail. It was very windy, 20-30 mph winds forecasted for that day, I will not guess on the actual speed it was since I don’t really know how to gage wind speed without an instrument. So we made it to Elephants head trail, No one had ventured there anytime recently from what we saw. We went by the blazes, the ones we could find. We made it across a brook and once on the other side we followed blue blazes and white blazes. Hiked up and across and back down and over for about an hour (searching for the trail). If one was to look at an aerial view of our movement on a GPS one might guess we were very drunk and wandering mindlessly through the woods. Very old blazes and soft sticky, 2-3 feet deep, unpacked snow made us pretty demoralized about doing the entire Elephants head trail. We had a very quick chat and all agreed we would rather hike up the closed section of 108. We hiked up for 2 miles maybe and made it to the Sterling Pond Trail. Eventually we made it to Sterling Pond as you can see from our group photo… ??? Wes Volk (leader), Judy Harvey, Jennifer Lane

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3/21/2015 – Butler Lodge & Nebraska Notch
With the scheduled trip leader (David Hathaway) out of commission with a bad cold, Mark McLane stepped up and said he was going anyway and invited others to join him.  Mark says: the trip went fine. Weather was actually pretty good. We went up to Butler first and surprisingly the Long trail south to Nebraska Notch was broken out so it was easier than I anticipated. I think we only saw 4 people on the trail the entire day and that was on the way out on the Nebraska Notch trail. We were out about 12:30. A very quiet day in the woods. Participants: Mark McLane (substitute leader), Adam Ahlquist, Dean Weiderin, and Dean’s dog Sophie.

2/28/2015 – Camels Hump Loop
Four of us met at 8:30 at the Richmond park and ride, picked up the fifth at the Richmond Market, and got on the trail by about 9:20. It was cold (maybe -5F) but sunny with almost no wind at the trailhead. We all wore snowshoes, as the Long Trail from the Forest City trail junction to the Camels Hump summit is often unbroken, but this time the trail was packed out the while way. We made good time and reached the trail junction in about an hour. We started getting some wind when we hit the LT, and it was pretty windy at the summit, but nothing like what we often see there. We reached the summit around noon, having seen only oe otther person (and dog), but there were a few folks at the summit, and we saw lots more people and dogs as we headed down. We took a break for lunch at the hut clearing, then made fast time down Burrows trail, reaching the parking area around 1:45 or so. David Hathaway (leader), Judy Harvey, Bruce Bushey, Steve Lipman, Wes Volk.

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2/14/2015 – Camels Hump
We all managed to cram ourselves in my little Subaru (4 of us) and made our way to Burrows trail head where we met Ted and Paul. Something funny was said I wish I could remember involving Ted when we all met together, but alas, this was 2 months ago I can’t remember what was said. Thought I might mention it though… the little things, that’s what matters 🙂 So we took off. Paul had some souped-up snowmobile boots or something which could get his feet through Antarctica. Be Prepared, Boy Scout Motto. Anyways we decided (We as in Me), with my wrist injury from work that we just do the Burrows trail. So we slowly made our way up Burrows and stopped at the clearing to gear up and fuel up. Also Ted thought we should take a photo of us with silly poses so we gave it a try. Ted and I are doing our own thing while Robynn made the best ‘Gunslinger’ pose I have seen, with her neck warmer as a bandana and her hands ready to grab those 6-shooters. Mark, Judy and Paul were posing as themselves. So we summitted. We all heard the south side of Camels Hump call our names, so we decided to actual do the hike I said we were going to do in the trip report except reverse (Burrows, LT, Forest City). We made our way down the south side, with winds gusting quite strong. The steep section of the LT below the Bad weather bypass was fun to go down and half packed. We got off trail for a bit, but backtracked and found the trail again. The rest of the hike was boring and nothing happened. The End. Ted Albers,  Robynn Albert, Judy Harvey, Paul McKim, Mark Mclane, Wes Volk (leader)

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2/8/15 Duxbury Window – President’s Hike
Following the successful 2015 GMC Burlington Section annual meeting (photo below) and braving an ominous ‘Winter Weather Warning” and the onset of a “Winter Weather Event” (translation: it snowed)  three hikers met at the Richmond park and ride and drove to the Long Trail parking lot on Duxbury Road and set out for the manageable 1.6 mile, 900ft. gain walk to the Duxbury Window. Owing to the “event” the view was limited to limited sightings of the interstate and Winooski below. The snow was perfect for snowshoeing. Backcountry skiers entertained us as they hiked up and skied the ridgeline below the cascades. The snow depth of only two feet or so unpacked was just enough to hold them. Three last-day cancellations made this a hike with three stout climbers: Peggy and Ted Albers, and Marcy Murray.
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2/1/2015 – Lake Mansfield via Nebraska Notch
A tip for trip leaders: you not only have to keep track of where people are on your trip, but also of who’s planning to come along! The day’s trip leader needed to learn that lesson, because when all the people he remembered were coming were  at the Underhill Center commuter lot before the appointed meeting time of 8:30, we proceeded to the trailhead and started up at 8:40 without our last participant (David McColgin). Fortunately, David followed our tracks and caught up with us at Taylor Lodge, and was very understanding about the leader’s incompetence. The day was very cold (below 0 F) and fairly calm with low clouds and ice fog as we started out. The trail was well packed, so Jay opted to leave his snowshoes in the car, though the rest of us wore ours. This was not a problem until we reached the LT, where wind had blown and drifted the snow to completely cover the trail. The sun started coming out about the same time, and the wind started picking up, so it may have been getting a bit warmer, but it felt like it was getting colder.  We hiked fast in the cold, reaching Taylor Lodge around 10:20. We stopped for a brief snack, then continued down the Lake Mansfield trail. The snow drifts were thigh deep in the beaver meadow below the lodge, but became much less when we got down to the waterfall at the outlet of the beaver ponds. We had a little trouble finding the trail that skirts the lake and the trout club lodge, but managed to stay on it most of the time, and got to the Lake Mansfield upper trailhead around 11:30. The wind was pretty strong there so we almost immediately started back up, this time following some skiers who were making use of the trail we’d made coming down. We reached Taylor Lodge again around 12:30 and stopped for the rest of our lunch, then continued down to reach the cars around 1:30. Participants: Dean Wiederin, Erica Spiegel, Jay Strauss, David McColgin, David Hathaway (leader). Pictures: Erica, David H.
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1/31/2015 – Camel’s Hump

Since the temps were bitterly cold when we arrived at 7:30 am at the Richmond Park and Ride, we decided to bag the trip and go to breakfast but at least snap one group photo:

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OK, that’s not what really happened but Wes had this great idea to post as such and I thought it was a pretty good plan…plus we really did reference breakfast a lot enroute.   OK, here’s the “real” story….

It truly was a brutal one, as Phil’s truck temp gizmo indicated -14 when we reached the Burrows trailhead a bit after 8 am.  Lots of wardrobe and snowshoe issues which were resolved and away we went to the Forest City trail.  Tim started out like a man possessed, breaking the fluffy trail for much of the way before the Montclair Glen Lodge intersection.  At this point, Phil decided it was time for a foot warmer insertion so we hoofed it the 200 yards to the lodge and to get “warm”…uh huh….a tea and snack break, then back on the trail before we hit the LT.  We’re still into the fluff which was pretty much the case until we broke into the open.

I should mention here that we’d batted around the idea of taking the Alpine Trail to Monroe and heading up that way; the winds were the determining factor, which were blowing quite fiercely but we decided we could handle whatever blew our way for the last 2/10 of a mile.  OMG in 40 point font….it was nuts, with the wind blowing us all over the place and me down a few times.  At this point, we’re pretty spread out and Tim’s snowshoe issue at the trailhead had now reared its ugly head and the temporary fix had undone itself.  Wes reached the summit first, followed by Tracy, then me; the three of us huddle in a notch just below the marker, where we were completely out of the wind.  Phil came a few minutes later and he and Tracy headed for the clearing where we decided we’d all meet there regardless of when we hit the summit; Wes and I waited for Tim who appeared with goggles, a change of coat (from orange to green) and a very red and white face!  Yikes!  At first we weren’t sure it was him and with the winds howling, it was hard to hear.  We told him he had frostbite and needed to get off the summit NOW….he said he was fine but we told him otherwise…..

At the clearing Nurse Tracy took over and gave Tim Wes’ fleece (one he was not using) so now all we saw were Tim’s eyes….almost immediately the white disappeared but the red stayed.  But now Tim tells us he has a leg cramp so his descent will be careful.  After he downed a bit more Gatorade, things got better for him.  (I called Tim on Sunday afternoon to see how his face was doing; he said he’d put ointment on it, the redness was still there but not as bright, and the skin was a bit bumpy, but other than this, all was well)
We met a few folks headed up as we were headed down and the parking lot had more cars than when we arrived, likely with back country skiers who were enjoying the fresh powder. Arrived back at the P&R around 2 pm.  And the first pic you see above really was post-hike…..I didn’t make any of the above up!

Trip Leader: Robynn Albert

Trip Participants: Phil Hazen, Wes Volk, Tracy Sweeney, Tim Welsh

Photos courtesy to Tim, Wes and Phil

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1/24/2015 – Mt. Mansfield via Sunset Ridge Trail

We all met relatively early at Essex Park and Ride at 8 AM. Everyone was on time (YES! Of course I’ve never been late :P). We met two hikers in Underhill and we all drove up to the Winter parking lot on Mountain Road. We unpacked the cars and strapped all our gear, clothing and packs on, well equipped for a typical winter hike. Walking up the road was quite an easy warm up, though it did add at least a mile there and back to our trip (which I enjoyed). Signed in and Walked up the CCC road and shortcut path. When we arrived at Sunset ridge trailhead, we changed layers and fueled up for a great pace set by our trail leader Mark McLane. Mark set our pace, I lead from the back, as I usually do. We changed to snowshoes and the clinking of all our spikes on our packs made me feel like we were chivalrous knights decked in chainmail. We made good time and made it to the tree line in no time. To my surprise there was little wind and the Sun was certainly nice to have and made for great picture (Me of all people forgot my camera). We journeyed on to the top and summited around noon. I was really struck by how little wind was up at the Chin, maybe 3 mph wind. We decided to take the short route down, which was Laura Cowles Trail. It was a bit icy at first, but once we entered the thick of the trees we had unpacked trail (as of last weekend storm) which made it a bit easier. There were certainly some very fun and long and winding butt slides, I wish I got video of Max going down some. From there we trotted down the CCC and Mountain Road to the winter parking lot. All made it back safe and all glad to have done a hike on such a beautiful day. It was a pleasure to hike with my fellow hikers 🙂
Deb Forcier, Judy Harvey, Steve Lipman, Mark Mclane, Max Seaton, George Twigg, Wes Volk (leader).  Pictures Courtesy of Steve Lipman

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1/18/2015 – Dewey

“This Dewey Mountain is getting too easy”, Phil told me privately, with concern in his voice. I had to agree, after all I had advertised this hike as a strenuous bushwhacking adventure, and here we were, less than a quarter mile from the summit, with only about 400 feet of elevation left to ascend. The approach thus far had been 80% on the well marked Overland Ski trail via Devil’s Dishpan, and the rest along the trail-less northern ridgeline had presented mostly open woods with only one easily negotiable rock ledge.

It was more than one hour later that we finally reached the summit with all ten group members plus dog intact but slightly shaken. My concerns about having to downgrade this mountain to “introductory hike” level were appeased. Calls for a different descent route could be heard as we stood around the summit canister, while we were getting cold from all the snow that had fallen on us as we had fought our way to get up here.

“It will be a piece of cake” proclaimed Phil, suggesting a more direct descent via the western ridge. It will remain his secret whether his repeated jinxing that day was unintentional, or whether he still had lingering concerns about the adventure-worthiness of this hike. Either way, we got what he asked for! Gravity helped us to get through some of the denser spruce patches on the way down, but it was not our friend on several steep and icy slopes we had to navigate. Finally it opened up into the glades below, popular with backcountry skiers, and the white Long Trail blazes greeted us not long after on our way back to the Stevensville Rd. parking area.

I’ll close my trip report with another memorable quote from Phil:
“Mt. Dewey, it kicked – – – – . . . again! ! !”.
Until next time, Dewey, we’ll be back.

Participants:  Dean Wiederin, Tracy Sweeney, Matt Wels, Phil Hazen, Robynn Albert, Jay Strauss, Erica Spiegel, Larry Gagne, David Hathaway Wolfgang Hokenmaier (leader).

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1/11/2015 – Moosalamoo

After a previously frigid week of temperatures below zero, we were greeted with relatively warmer weather (25°F), calm winds (<5mph) and clouds that blanketed the sky.  At 9:45 all eleven hikers were in high spirits and ready to explore. First we headed North along side sucker brook, half frozen and filled with fluvial ice formations. Once we reached the North Branch Trail and Silver Lake jct. the majority decided we should all hike Mt. Moosalamoo. Continuing north we crossed the footbridge and made the left hand turn onto the Aunt Jenny Trail toward Rattlesnake Cliffs Trail. At the Rattlesnake Cliff Trail jct. we took a left and continued North along steep cliffs that allowed for great views West of Lake Dunmore and South of Silver Lake, through the leafless canopy. We made it to the first open view, facing south, just below the peak of Mt Moosalamoo by 12:30pm. Here the group was ready for a short rest, snack and even passed out some hand warmers for those who were cold.  Afterwards, we continued north over Mt. Moosalamoo’s in hope of connecting to the Mt. Moosalamoo Trail back south to North Branch Trail and then east, back to our starting point. Though the snow cover was not heavy, we were still unable to find the trail with the existing trail markers in such poor conditions. Having to turn around and retrace our steps on the Rattle Snake Cliff Trail was no disappointment, as the views downward heading south were more apparent as you hike.  Our descent downward was quick with as steady pace and ended up back at the parking lot by 2:30.  Hikers:  Catherine H., Dandy A., Juan, Tom C. & Partner,  Kim M., Marcy M., Lynda H., Dean W. & Partner, Nancy H., Adam Heckle (leader).

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1/10/2015 –  Mt. Mansfield – Taft Lodge/ LT/ Profanity

The theme of this trip revolved around numbers – being a moving target and counting up and down and up and down again!!   Bear with me here….
Based on illness, the forecast, fluctuating work schedules, etc. the numbers pre-outing were all over the place…it was quite laughable…and I was disappointed when those whom I was looking forward to seeing had to bow out for good reasons and those that said they were not going to attend changed their minds…so the beginning number on Saturday morning started at 9…then quickly went to 8 as one member (I’m not going to use “official” names to protect the innocent!) forgot their boots!  Raced home and promised to meet us on the trail which he did at Taft Lodge!

8:30 am – Two cars headed southeast to Route 108 in Stowe and luckily we arrived in time to grab parking spots right at the gate (as opposed to the ski lot).  Kim met us there as we pulled in and we were off!  Up the Notch Road, up the LT, to the Lodge.  We were quite spread out on the trail during this piece of the trip; when we ultimately re-grouped for eats at Taft, four folks decided they were not headed to the summit!!  Two were tired, two were cold so we split…now we’re 5 for the chin….oh, I should back up for a minute….in the parking lot, there were a few that decided to bring snowshoes and a few who did not….again, I withhold those names to protect the innocent and from future ridicule.  Now, back to the chin ascent….started out going fine, hard packed, then as the approach was near, became extremely icy.  We had thought on the way up, passing Profanity (or Purgatory as Tom called it!!!!) which was not tracked out, we might do an up and back via the LT…due to the bare ice, Profanity / Purgatory (the original plan) came back to the forefront. The summit was a quick visit due to high, chilly winds, a picture or two, then P/P here we come!  The shoers were having a great time “playing in the powder/ powda” (if you’re from Beantown, see the latter spelling and pronunciation) and the very thankful and boneheaded microspikers-only were having fun, too! Back to Taft, back to the gate without incident.

Here is where things kinda fell apart re: communication and were downright laughable!  Driver of a red, vanity plated vehicle (the plate having something to do with the universe) called one of his passengers who had turned around, letting him know we’re back and the taxis are on their way.  Long story short, there was some downfall in communication re: Spruce Lodge vs. Stowe Mtn. Lodge…..oh, they were, I’m certain, drinking dark tea that had the words “Long Trail” imprinted on the mug…..anyway, after looping around the Stowe Mtn. Lodge valet parking area FOUR times, one of my passengers came out not having had any luck finding passenger #4; I called him, he proceeded to tell me he was standing on the side of the road!  Back onto Route 108 we go! Here is a very funny story that might not have ended funny…..I pull a good distance in front of the large red truck to pick up my co-pilot and when I didn’t see him walking behind the vehicle and the red blur going by me at a good rate of speed, I just assumed he had hopped in the red beast and that was ok as we were all headed to the Richmond P&R with a quick stop at the Cabot Store in Waterbury.  I am literally a second or two from pulling onto the road and I look in my rearview mirror and what do I see…a gray jacket, opening my vehicle hatch….my passenger was walking far on the right hand side of the road, so I never saw him!! That would have been bad…leaving him behind in the cold!

A successful stop at the Cabot Store with our fill of the cheese buffet and back to the P&R…a good day had by all, whether you were on the summit or in the lodge!

Trip Leader: Robynn Albert

Trip Participants:  Tracy Sweeney, Max Seaton, Phil Hazen, Ted Albers, Kim Farone, Dave Hathaway, Tom Smith, Larry Gagne

Photo credit: Tracy Sweeney, Phil Hazen

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1/3/2015 – Mansfield Ridge

We met at 8:30 at the Underhill Center commuter lot under cloudy skies, with a temperature around 15 F, consolidated to two cars, and headed up to the winter parking area. Because of the recent thaws and rain, with only a dusting of snow since, we were pretty sure that any deep snow up top would be hard frozen (which later proved correct), so we left snowshoes in the cars, donned microspikes and the like, and started up the road just before 9 AM. Because several of us had done the ridge just a month before, and because the predicted winds were from the south, we opted  for a counterclockwise loop, up the CCC road and Maple Ridge Trail to the Forehead, and then on to the summit. We reached the ranger station around 9:30 and the bottom of the Maple Ridge Trail around 10:30. We hadn’t had much wind up to this point, but it picked up when we reached the open parts of the ridge. About halfway up Maple Ridge, the trip leader realized that the reason he hadn’t been getting the traction he’d expected from his microspikes was that one of them was upside down (points toward the boot).  They worked much better once that was corrected. We stopped for a short break at the Maple Ridge / Wampahoofus junction, then up into the winds, reaching the Forehead just before noon. We stopped for lunch in the trees just before reaching the service road, then Phil stayed behind to finish his lunch while the rest continued, with a promise to wait at the visitor center. David took the trail while the rest took the service road, but there was some confusion about where the visitor center was relative to the service road, so David waited quite a while, eventually joined by Phil, and still no sign of the others. They had proceeded north from service road / Long Trail junction (the visitor is to the south), and eventually turned around to see where David and Phil were, and we all met at the service road junction as David and Phil were looking for the others. We stayed together after that. The Ridge walk was cold and windy, and we reached the summit just before 2, where we had a brief stop for pictures. Given the winds, we opted for the steeper but more sheltered Laura Cowles trail down, and quickly walked / slide down to the Sunset Ridge trail junction and on down the CCC road and state park road to the cars, which we reached just after 4. Participants: Robynn Albert, Max Seaton, Phil Hazen, Elle O’Casey, David Hathaway (leader).

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