Trip Reports, September – December 2015 (updated 1/2/2016)

12/20/15 Stimson Mountain Snowshoe – but not a snowshoe – warm temps and 1” of snow!
We took the new Stimson Mountain LT relocation from the new Winooski Bridge parking lot to Airway tower (a side-trail that is not a side trail at all) & back same way. This is approx. 6 miles round trip, 1,800’ gain. Trip leader Ted promised great weather or your money back, and he did not disappoint – that seems to be the one thing he has complete control over. The group of 13 sturdy hikers assembled at the new LT parking lot on Rt. 2 just north of the new bridge and headed north on the new LT which was well marked until it wasn’t. Where it wasn’t we drifted off the trail but our collective ‘sense of the trail’ put us back on, more or less. Nearing the point where the LT passes within a ½ mile or so of the summit of Stimson we bushwhacked south-east to the summit ridge and then south to the summit, which is thoroughly wooded and affords only a sliver of a view towards the valley and Camel’s Hump. We used microspikes as there was a 1’ layer of melting snow – and slippery leaves underfoot. At the conclusion several headed off to visit the new Bridge – for some it was their first visit. A Victoria’s Secret bag became attached to the trip leader’s pack providing some color along the trail. Something to do with Robynn and clogs and a coded message for her neighbors. With Robin Lessoff, Dave Hathaway, Tracy Sweeney, Holly Creeks, Phil Hazen, Faith Beiler, Robynn Albers, Dean Wiederin, Nancy Hankey, Ken Britting, Horst Hartleib, Maria Baiulescu, trip leader Ted Albers.(if i forgot anyone please let me know!) Photos by Dave and Phil. P1000485 DSCN2618 DSCN2615 DSCN2619 DSCN2623 P1000484 P1000486 P1000488

12/19/2015 – Winter Solstice at Butler Lodge
‘Twas the night of the solstice
and all through the lodge
hung mittens and jackets,
the boy scouts’ hodge podge.

The trail had been tricky
with ice and some snow.
From the porch we watched sun set,
in its last amber glow.

When it came time to eat,
we were no slackers,
a feast for a king:
cheese, cookies and crackers.

Then into the darkness,
we brave hikers went,
slowly making our way
by tiny headlamp lamp.

At the end of the trail,
we sang our good wishes,
while the boy scouts at Butler
were freezing their tushes.

As we drove from the trailhead
all full of good cheer,
our thoughts on the future,
“Can’t wait ’til next year.”

13 participants, including Mary Lou Recor, leader and poet

12/19/2015 – Camel’s Hump via Burrows Trail
When I signed up in July to lead a hike on December 19, I had no idea what kind of weather or hiking conditions we would encounter.  As the date approached, I knew that we would not need snowshoes on the hike but I was concerned about the possibility of rain or overcast skis with no views. As it turned out, the conditions were a bit icy but we lucked out with the views. Just as we got to the hut clearing, the sun started to come out and we had lovely views in every direction from the top. We didn’t stay on top long since it was very windy and cold, but we were there long enough for another hiker to take a group photo of us. Everyone got down in one piece, and everyone seemed to have enjoyed themselves. Participants: Max Seaton, Gary Kupperblatt, Maria Baiulescu, Sally Hughes, Barbara Cory, Laureen Gauthier, Richard Larsen, Sheri Larsen (leader)

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12/12/2015 – Mt Abe
Rob started the trend to sign up for this trip the Saturday before; after that, the signees exploded, and by week’s end until the total the morning of was 16 including me. (I don’t think I’ve had a group this large since my first outing as a trip leader in July 2008.) I’ll say it was the warm weather that brought folks out, many I’d not met before.) 8:30 am at the Hinesburg P&R; from there we headed out in a few cars to meet up with 2 others at the Battell trailhead. Day started as cloudy and pretty much continued this way until the summit. Just as the last of us were leaving, the clouds lifted and the views were super; Sheri made a second run for the summit to grab some photos. A bit of ice between the shelter and summit but not microspike-worthy. Lots of folks on the trail on our descent. A Holiday trivia game was conducted by this trip leader at the shelter where great prizes of chocolate and cookies were awarded with the correct answer. Mary was the grand prize winner, meaning she has a phenomenal memory, answering at least 50% of the questions with the correct answers. When asked if she’d recently watched the trivia question shows – Frosty, Grinch, Rudolph and Charlie Brown – the answer was no, she’d remembered the same questions and answers from years ago when the same game was played!! Don’t mess with Mary and her holiday knowledge! Returned back to the trailhead a bit before 2 pm. A good day for all present! Participants: Rob Gordon, Max Seaton, Jean Cannon, Tom Smith, Lynda Hutchins, Mary Keenan, Rich Larsen, Sheri Larsen, Holly Creeks, David Stall, Lee Wrigley, Phil Hazen, Kevin Batson, Robin Lesoff, Reza Ramazani, Robynn Albert (leader). Photos courtesy: Phil, Holly, Sheri

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12/5/2015 – Mt Hunger & White Rock
We met at the Richmond park & ride at 9 (everybody was early), took one car to the Waterbury Trail trailhead, and were on the trail at 9:30. It was in the 30s and sunny with no snow at the bottom, but the ground was snow covered by the time we reached the (largest) stream crossing. Shortly after we started we saw a young guy with a dog who had turned around close to the top when he saw bear tracks and heard noises in the woods. We also saw the tracks, but heard nothing; I’m sure we were loud enough to scare anything off. There was some ice, but it was soft enough that the three of us who used microspikes or HillSounds didn’t put them on until the White Rock trail junction. There was no wind at the summit, where we were greeted around 11:20 by “a beautiful panoramic 360 degree view of the inside of a cloud” (quote from former GMC executive director Ben Rose), but while we took a short break to refuel the clouds were blowing through so we got intermittent views of Camels Hump, Mansfield, and our next goal, White Rock. As we started over to White Rock, the sun had started to melt the snow on the trees, so we got adept at finding “no drip zones” whenever we wanted to take a pause. By the time we reached the White Rock summit just after noon, the wind had picked up a bit, so we didn’t stay long, and found some rocks in a sheltered area below White Rock summit to finish our lunch. The dripping from the trees was more intense as we headed back, and looking back at the sun shining through the trees, all the droplets made it look like it was raining. To this point we’d seen only the one guy and his dog, but on the way down we encountered a group of 11 UVM students and several other folks hiking mostly in pairs. We got back to the car around 2:15. Participants: Robynn Albert, Tom Smith, Gary Kupperblatt, David Hathaway (leader).

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11/29/2015 – Mt. Ethan Allen via Forest City Trail
On an unusually warm afternoon, 4 hikers met at the top of Camels Hump Road at the main parking lot, which was already filled with other hikers vehicles. Trip leader Adam Heckle was driven in with Dean and met Lynda and Wendy for the hike. By 10 am they were entering the trail and making their ascent with the accompaniment of two, four legged friends. Within the first hour of hiking the Forest City Trail, they arrived to Montclair Lodge where they made a short rest, chatted, rehydrated and were quickly back on the trail. Once on The Long Trail making their way up the North side of Mt. Ethan Allen they stumbled upon a snowshoe hare with within eyesight from the trail. The risk in hiking up some steep icy inclines without micro-spikes almost caused a hiker to slide back down a steep icy slope. Luckily, any risk was diffused with quick thinking of a fellow hiker. Just before reaching the top we noticed a side trail to a view South of Camels Hump. Once we reached the summit the View south of Ira Allen and Burnt Rock, with great visibility to the surrounding landscape. The group chatted amongst each other and other hikers, enjoyed snacks and the glorious viewpoint. When they descended the summit, they decided to take the Allis Trails that looped us back around to the Long Trail, which offers good viewpoints of the stony outcrop on the north side of Camels Hump summit. The Allis Trail was soft and less frequently hiked and even had a bench along the halfway point. On the way back down the Forest City Trail, our attention was caught by many large Yellow Birches along the trailside. Our hike was completed by 3pm, just enough time for the hikers to make it home, before darkness set in. Participants: Dean W., Lynda H., Wendy S., Adam H. (leader).
Camel's Hump State Park Mt Elthan Allen snowshoe bunny the Hump on 11-27-15

11/28/2015 – Stowe Recreation path
Seven walked on the rec path in Stowe.
‘Twas windy with a few flakes of snow.
Thanksgiving was fine,
Pies, gravy and wine,
But those unsightly pounds have to go.
Leader (and poet): Mary Lou Recor

11/21/2015 – Mansfield via Halfway House/ Laura Cowles
I’d been tracking the weather the previous few days and it was WINDY! atop Mansfield, forecasting gusts between 65 and 70 mph….but as luck would have it for this outing, we were due for a very clear day with nearly zero winds.  Four of us met at the Essex Center P&R at 8 am and headed to the Underhill State Park (no problem getting right to the main / summer lot) where we met Rob, who’d brought his friend Mark M. Introductions, then onward….CCC Road, to Halfway House trail where we encountered a bit of ice, then more, then more, where micro spikes were the required footwear.  Not far from the top of that trail, Mark B. found an iPhone 6 (we’d seen a note in the register that one was lost, owner a UVM student on Nov. 15 and to call such and such number).  We held onto it…more on this later. Made our way over the ridge where we encountered little ice but folks, many from UVM who Rob was interested in as he’s a professor there, many not having the proper footwear! This always amazes me…but they were having fun and we saw no broken bones or blood to that point so all was well! We met a father / son duo who were hiking a chunk of the LT (remember, it’s nearly the end of November….they had started 8 days ago, and were going to go a few more days, then take some time off for the holidays and pick back up after the new year) and learned the son works for the AT in Maryland so we had great conversations with him.  Stowe had their snow guns going what looked like full blast towards the top and near the base but we agreed, based on this week’s forecast, a Turkey Day opening for them was not going to happen. Hit the summit around 12 N ish, a bite to eat out of the wind (which was pretty mild) below the summit and then onto Laura Cowles where we encountered much more ice than on the HH trail.  But the temps were incredible.  We never had to bundle up.  And this same hike last year, we were knee and waist deep in the snow on the summit..what a difference a year makes, huh??!!  Arrived back at our cars around 2:20 pm and onto the Jericho Cafe and Tavern for a mid-day libation and fries….a great day with great company!  iPhone story – Chapter 2….Mark B. called the contact number, student claimed to own the phone after a Q&A by Mark, in CT for the holiday break, will be re-connected with his phone next week! Max Seaton, Phil Hazen, Mark Blanchard, Rob Gordon, Mark Melendy, Robynn Albert (leader). Photos courtesy: Phil Hazen & Mark Melendy.

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11/14/2015 – Camels Hump
Max Seaton and I took the Forest City Trail to the Long Trail and looped back down the Burrows Trail. What I was not expecting was the blizzard like conditions on the hike. We started out with a moderate amount of snow towards the bottom, but as we reached the top, we had probably three to four inches. On the way up, we ran into only one person until we started going down the other side of the Summit. At the staging area, we stopped for a quick interview with some high school students doing an English project on connecting with nature. We then made quick work of getting down the hill as it was rather chilly. Pace was pretty consistent throughout, starting just after 9AM and getting back down at about 1:30PM. Participants: Max Seaton, Nate Richard (leader)

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11/7/2015 – Mansfield Forehead
As of the Wednesday before the outing, I had no takers. Ted started the string, however, and then others joined the bandwagon. Love having many on the trip, always makes for fun conversations and such. Day was due to be cloudy mid-day but the move-in was slow and we had great views for the entire trip. Phil had his Sunday lead outing, nearly the same as this one but a loop that included the Chin, so decided to join us to the lodge then a turn around; Ted decided to go back with him. He, Ted, had placed his shoes in my car anticipating riding back with me to the Essex Center P&R so I still have them…wait, I sold them on e-bay based on his suggestion and the remaining gang went for pizza and beer post-hike. If he reads this trip report, he’ll know why I’m not returning his e-mails on when we can meet up for the hand off! Wendy joined us for her first time ever hike with the Club, all the way from Fort Collins, CO! Great day! Participants: Ted Albers, Lynda Hutchins, Max Seaton, Jay Strauss, Erica Spiegel, Phil Hazen, Tracy Sweeney, Bruce Bassett, David Hathaway, Wendy Turner, Robynn Albert (leader). Photos courtesy: Ted, Tracy, Erica.

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10/31/15 Shelburne Farms Ramble
When is a GMC outing not a GMC outing?  Does a brisk walk through Shelburne Farms on a perfect fall day count? Sure … why not!? Rather than walk the LaPlatte natural area loop and Ti-Haul trails (a little soggy) we opted for a sunnier outing and walked the trails and roads of Shelburne Farms. Along the way we greeted the Brown Swiss cows at the dairy barn. They are always in a good mood. With Jean, Carol, Ted.
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10/24/15 Camels Hump Loop
With two leader substitutions and two people signed up, we met at the Richmond Park & Ride at 9 AM and headed up to the Duxbury trailhead. The day started cold (for the time of year), but all the snow and almost all the ice from a week earlier had melted off (just a little ice left on a few of the rocks near the summit), and while it was windy up top, it wasn’t really too cold. We had some sun in the morning, but it became mostly cloudy as the day progressed. We started up the trail around 9:40, reached the Dean / Monroe junction around 10:30, and the LT around 11:25, seeing quite a few people along the way (more on that below). We stopped for lunch around noon at a relatively wind-free viewpoint along the LT, and then continued up to the summit, again seeing an unusually large number of people for this fairly difficult section of trail. We reached the summit around 1:45, but only stopped briefly, as the winds were pretty strong, but spent a little time playing summit caretakers, reminding quite a few people we saw tromping across the grass of the fragility of the vegetation at that altitude. We stopped to prop up a rock-braced sign at the Alpine / Monroe junction which was leaning a lot, and then continued down Monroe, reaching the Dean trail junction a bit after 3, and the car a little before 4. This probably should be subtitled a GMC recruiting trip, since we stopped for conversations about the GMC with at least 8 to 12 groups of folks along the way, including students from several local colleges and universities, several people new to or considering moves to the area, folks from Quebec, and a number of locals. And we weren’t making a point of bringing up the topic; in many cases other people approached us with questions! Probably a more productive recruiting trip than the stint one of us spent at EMS Club Days the day before. Participants: Max Seaton, Phil Hazen, David Hathaway (leader).

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10/18/2015  Tillotson & Belvidere
We delayed the trip one day, since the forecast Sunday (30% chance snow) looked nicer than that for Saturday (60% chance rain and snow). We met at the Cambridge park & ride at 9 AM and headed up to the Frank Post Trail trailhead on Tillotson Rd in Eden. We started up around 9:50 under partly cloudy skies with a temperature right around freezing. There was a dusting of snow on the ground, and enough wind had blown since the snow fell that we had a layer of fallen leaves on snow instead of the reverse. The snow depth increased as we headed up, and was perhaps a couple inches at Tillotson Camp, which we reached around 11:20. Since it doesn’t really offer any views, we opted to skip the 1.2 mile round trip on the LT north to Tillotson summit, and instead took the LT south from Tillotson Camp toward Belvidere. As in past years, there were many animal tracks, including many mice and small animals, as well as some large tracks we think may have been bear, but weren’t sure, as neither of us have much tracking experience. This section of the LT winds around more than most (never take a straight path when you can do a zig-zag), so we lost the trail briefly once, but this is in keeping with the GMC Burlington Section tradition of getting lost on trips up Belvidere led by outings chairs (current or past). This section of the trail was also very wet, so we were glad we both had decent boots. As we neared Belvidere we passed three people doing the same loop we were in the opposite direction. We reached the junction with the Belvidere summit spur trail around 1 PM, then headed up to the summit. We’d been having periods of sun, but clouds had moved in when we reached the summit, so views were sparse. The trees offered protection from the wind, but it was fairly strong at the top of the fire tower. The tower was covered with hoarfrost, and the thick frost on the cyclone fencing around the top actually made a pretty good wind break. After a very brief stop for lunch and pictures, we headed down the Foresters Trail, reaching the Frank Post Trail junction around 2:35 and the car around 2:50. Participants: Ted Albers, David Hathaway (leader)
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10/4/15 Mt. Mansfield Forehead Hike
The four of us met at the Stevensville Trailhead in Underhill and hiked Frost and Maple Ridge Trails up to the Forehead.  The weather cooperated with mostly sunny skis, reasonable temperatures and not a lot of wind.  We stopped periodically on the way up to look at the lovely views and take photos and then sat down for lunch at the intersection of Maple Ridge Trail and the Long Trail.  We debated whether to go back the same way since Maple Ridge provides such lovely views, but we ended up going down Wampahoofus and Butler Trails since Gerard and Kevin had not hiked on those trails.  Wampahoofus was a bit wet in places, so there were a few slips and butt slides to avoid more slipping.  There were nice views from Butler Lodge, and the woods going down Butler Trail were lovely.  A fun time was had by all! Participants:  Gerard Gagnon, Kevin Kelley, Rich Larsen, and Sheri Larsen (leader).
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10/3/15 Camels Hump
Details to come. Participants: Robynn Albert, Joanna Weinstock, Ted Albers, Phil Hazen (leader).

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9/26/15 Whiteface from Smugglers Notch
We met at the Cambridge park & ride just before 8:30 and took one car up to the top of Smuggler’s Notch. For a fall day there were surprisingly few cars and we had no problem finding a place to park. We started up the Sterling Pond trail around 8:45 with cool crisp temperatures and under clear skies. We reached Sterling Pond around 9:30 and Madonna summit around 10:40. We took a little break to take in the views and then continued along the LT reaching Chilcoot Pass around 11:20, the high point on Morse Mt around 11:50, and Whiteface shelter around 12:30.We stopped for lunch, then headed up Whiteface, getting to the summit around 1:10. When we got back to Whiteface shelter we decided to make a loop of it, going down to Beaver Meadow and up Chilcoot trail rather than returning the way we’d come over Morse Mt. The little tiny map in the Long Trail Guide made it look like it might not be much harder, but looks can be deceiving. The descent to Beaver Meadow was no problem, but Chilcoot trail was a very steep climb back to Chilcoot Pass, which we reached around 3:20. From there we headed back up Madonna and on to reach Sterling Pond shelter around 4:50, where we talked with 6 people staying there; 3 on an LT through hike from MA, and three out for the night. We had seen a number of other folks along the way, most out for the day like we were, but some on a multi-day LT trip. But the trail did not seem at all crowded. With all the major climbs behind us, we made good time the rest of the way, reaching the car around 5:45. There was very little foliage color, with most trees still green, and others having gone straight to brown; we suspected this was due to the recent warm weather and sparse rain over the past month. Hopefully more color will develop over the coming days and weeks. Participants: Lauren Wilkinson, Max Seaton, David Hathaway (leader).

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9/19/15 Hazens Notch to Jay Peak
I got four inquiries and one participant, Vikram Singh who traveled here from the NYC area. We hiked from Hazens Notch to Jay Pass. I wasn’t feeling great so we called it a day at Route 242 after 6.8 miles plus side trip to Hazens Shelter. LT looked better than expected, weather was great, and we were out of  the woods by 1:30. Happy to report Northern Frontier Section replaced the roof of Atlas Valley Shelter. Trail signage was intact except for summit of Domey’s Dome. We met four hikers during our journey. Leader: Dave Hardy.

9/12/15 Bird Walk
A forecast of thunder and an 80% chance of rain resulted in a move of the birding walk from Sunday 9/13 to the day before. Unfortunately, two people who’d signed up couldn’t make it on the new date. However, those of us who did were treated to a gorgeous day at the Charlotte Park and Wildlife Refuge, with great views of the Champlain Valley and Adirondacks. We were dive-bombed by hummingbirds and serenaded by at least a half dozen catbirds. We puzzled over mystery sparrows, picked and ate big, delicious apples, and marveled over pear trees laden with fruit. Here’s a photo taken by Sheri Larsen of her husband Rich along with Sue Kiniry, Julie Soquet and leader Maeve Kim.

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9/12/15 Mt. Norris
A Limerick Tribute to Mt. Norris

All praise of Mt. Mansfield will bore us,
With its forehead and towers and tourists.
For that Vermont hill
Will no longer thrill
Now that we’ve been to Mt. Norris.

There were nine of us on the hike counting me (Mary Lou Recor, leader).

9/5/15 Bamforth Ridge
We met at the Richmond park & ride around 8 AM, took a car up to the Duxbury trailhead, and headed down to the Bamforth Ridge trailhead by the Winooski River to start hiking around 8:50. We reached the hut clearing around 1, and as we approached the summit, we  heard someone behind us calling out our names. It was Amanda Debruyn, with whom we’d both hiked the Worcester Ridge the week before, with a friend. They’d come up Burrows, and after we hung out for a while having lunch at the summit, they opted to go south down the LT with us.  We reached the Dean Trail junction around 2:45, where Amanda and her friend continued to head down Forest City, and we returned on the Dean and Monroe trails, reaching the car around 4. Participants: David Hathaway, Wes Volk (leader).
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