Trip reports, January – April 2016 (updated 5/1/2016)

April 23 – Phil’s Map and Compass
Phil Hazen led another great Map and Compass outing this year with GPS confirmation that the bushwhacking track by compass to Colchester Pond was an amazing straight line except to go around a beaver pond marsh and avoid a cliff.

With Rose Scavotto, Tom Smith, Max Seaton, Jim Mosenthal and in-charge Phil.
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4/16/2016 – Vergennes to Middlebury bicycle
‘Twas a glorious day to pedal.
From Vergennes, we rode like the devil.
But on our return,
Our quads, they did burn,
‘Cause Vermont, it ain’t hardly level.
Trip leader (and poet): Mary Lou Recor

3/26/2016 – Lamoille Valley Rail Trail
The planned hike to Cantilever Rock was changed to a walk along the Lamoille Valley Rail Trail due to the early mud season this year and the consequent early closing of trails on Mt Mansfield. We met at 9 AM at the trail parking area on route 15 just east of the roundabout in Jeffersonville, and got on the trail around 9:10. The skies were still overcast and it was cold enough for hats and gloves as we started walking east along the trail, but the sun came out after a little less than an hour. We had a leisurely stroll, turned around about after about 4.5 miles, at the point where the rail crosses route 15, and got back to the cars around 12:45. Jack Lutz, Kevin Barry, Orion Greene (dog), David Hathaway (leader).

3/12/16 Prospect Rock
We met at the Cambridge park & ride at 9 AM and headed for the trailhead on route 15 near Johnson. It was sunny and warm, with temperatures starting in the 40s and climbing into the 50s as the day progressed. We hit the trail around 9:20 and wound our way north on the Long Trail toward the Lamoille River. When we got there we found that the south channel (the one without a bridge) was full. From the ice much farther up on the banks it looked like it had receded a lot, but not enough to let us continue. So we headed back to the cars and drove up to the crossing on Hogback Road. We walked down to the suspension bridge and went across to the island where we could look across at where we’d just been. Then we turned around and headed north toward Prospect Rock. The trail had a tiny bit of ice and snow in a very few places, and mud in a lot more, but all in all it was in pretty good shape. We reached Prospect Rock around 11:20 where we had a leisurely lunch, enjoying the view. Then we headed back down, reaching the car around 1:00. Participants: Beth Ruskai, Rachel Moulton, Orion Greene (dog), David Hathaway (leader).
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3/6/16 Duxbury Window (with diversion included for no extra charge)
Five sturdy hikers headed up the Long Trail (or is south on the LT always ‘down?’) from the Duxbury Road parking lot at the Winooski River for a mis-guided jaunt to the Duxbury Window. Collectively we had done this walk maybe a dozen times in the last few years. Still, the trip leader managed to get us good and lost. Which, it turns out, is a great way to turn a routine walk into a tiny bit of an adventure. Heading south just past Cascades rock cliff (festooned with gigantic slabs of five-foot think ice) we failed to follow the LT as it turned south-east, and instead headed due south for about 1/2 mile up a ridge on the wrong side of Gleason Brook. Realizing finally that we were not on the trail and seeing that it was a perfect day for a walk we kept at it, following a natural trail of ice. Eventually this became clogged with blowdowns, so the trip leader buchwacked down then up the Gleason Brook ravine and found the LT. From there to the Duxbury Window and back it was an uneventful but pretty walk on a trail that was 100% ice. The weeks previous rain then cold had turned the LT into a skating rink at a 35 degree incline. Mictospikes to the rescue! The photos show us forging the brook and various views from the Window. Photos by Mary Keenan, and Ted Albers (leader), with Rachel Moulton, Jim Mosenthal and his neighbor (name?) An additional hiker in the group was walking on his own — he was from UVM. I am sure his opinion of GMC trip leaders took a beating on this outing. He followed us all the way, as oblivious as the rest of us! Here is the GMC map of the hike. And here is the State Park map, both very handy, if not slightly ignored on this outing.

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3/5/2016 Bald Hill Bushwhack
Three days before the hike, I got my first inquiry about the hike. But, when it became clearer that the weather would be good on Saturday, the number of participants kept growing. We ended up with 14 total participants, including the leader.

When people contacted me, I explained that I was uncertain how icy it would be and how much snow there would be after the mid-week storms. Just in case, I asked people to bring both microspikes and snowshoes.

The hike started at the Burrows Trailhead at the end of Camel’s Hump Road in Huntington. We hiked up the Burrows Trail until we got to a spot where the Camel’s Hump Challenge Circumnavigation Trail crosses at a point just below where the spruce forest begins. The Burrows Trail to that point was packed with some soft snow on top, so it wasn’t too icy and microspikes worked nicely. When we got off the Burrows Trail the snow was not packed, but there wasn’t enough to warrant snowshoes. We followed the Circumnavigation Trail for a while and then veered off to the left and bushwhacked up to the ridgeline on Bald Hill. Once on top we visited a few spots with great views of the summit of Camel’s Hump. We lingered at the top and had snacks and beverages and then returned back to our cars by following our tracks down.

This was a new hike for all but three of the participants. Everyone seemed to have had a good time.

Participants:  Jim Mosenthal, Cathy Tilley, Cathy McIssac, Mary Hennessy, Debbie Page, Max Seaton, Lynda Hutchins, Alan Finn, Elizabeth Wood, Sarah Stephens, David Hathaway, Greg Balstock, Rich Larsen, Sheri Larsen (trip leader).
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2/28/2016 Little River Ski
A light snow on top of the ice
Made skiing so very un-nice.
Thus we did walk
Five miles of talk
For this winter that must suffice.
Leader and poet: Mary Lou Recor

2/21/2016 App Gap to Molly Stark Balcony
Three of us (and 1 dog) headed from App Gap towards Molly Stark Balcony. The trail was snowy, icy and very steep. We had spikes and the dog had claws. While descending from Baby Stark, we encountered an extremely steep, icy section. We were unsure if we’d be able to go back up it and likely this was too steep for the dog (he found other sections quite challenging). Not finding an alternate route, we turned back. We had a brief lunch at a nice viewpoint. Getting back to the car, the leader and dog left, but the other 2 continued south and made it 1.8 miles to the Theron Dean Shelter. It was a nice winter day (colder in the mountains than at the lower elevations, but still mild for February). Leader: Pam Gillis. Participants: Lisa Sipsey and Lynda Hutchins, Tyke (dog).

2/20/2016 Mansfield via LT, Taft Lodge, Profanity
You know Rich Larsen’s famous line, “we can lose 10% or 1, whichever is greater, on any outing”? Well keep that in mind when you read the report….as it’s always a moving target!  The weather Gods appeared on our side as the week drew to its end.  This trip leader just hates hiking in the rain so I was contemplating cancelling until the forecast seemed to clear and we were a go to meet at 8 am at the Richmond Park and Ride.  Plus Phil told me to never believe the forecast when I asked him if he’d consider subbing as trip leader for this hike if I ended up cancelling.  Eight was the number to start, picking up Jill at the Waterbury P&R where we became  9 and then we’re on our way to the gate on the Mountain Road.  Oh, Roger was to meet us at the Richmond P&R but was a no show at meeting time. Surprisingly, at the gate, there were very few cars.  Geared up, intros and up the toll road we went.  Or so we thought that we were a group.

Let’s make this very long story as short as possible. Tom, Lynda and Phil were bringing up the rear, went too far on the toll road and didn’t make the turn for the LT, retraced their steps, up the LT they go, Phil is now leading the 3 of them, they separate, Phil now solo, Tom and Lynda together, Phil heads up the LT and at one point, Tom and Lynda end up on a back country ski trail, turned around, now on the LT, Tom and Lynda now separate, phone calls and texts are made and sent, respectively, after Mark mentioned he’d gone back down to the toll road and walked up seeing none of the three MIA.  Roger meets up with Phil (they actually meet for the first time as Roger is asking everyone in sight if they’re part of the GMC outing), The main group of 6 gets to Taft Lodge at 11:25 am, Phil arrives 11:45 am, Roger is behind him by a few minutes carrying skis in hand, then Tom follows a few minutes later, stating that Lynda is likely turning around, call Lynda, she is headed back down and will find a lodge at the Stowe Mtn. Ski area to hunker down while the group hits the summit and descends Profanity.

So you see where the numbers game is in play here? We lose Lynda and gain Roger, 9 remains. A few inches of the white stuff from toll road to Lodge, then as we hit the rocks, switch to spikes from shoes and carefully, very carefully, make our way to the Chin where a lovely socked in view awaits us! Picture time, head for Profanity trail, back to shoes and lots of butt sliding! Lose the trail, find it, lose again, find again. Then we really do lose Roger…but to the ski mountain! So we’re 8…back to the cars, pick up Lynda, we finish with 9.  A great day, albeit a bit disjointed…but this trip leader learned something…never assume!!  Oh and very warm, can’t forget that. And it DID start to rain!!!
Participants: Mary Merkel (drove from Rochester, NY to make this hike!!), Rob Gordon, Phil Hazen (photos), Jill George, Mark McLane, Lynda Hutchins, Tom Smith, Robin Lesoff, Roger (last name unknown) , Robynn Albert (leader)

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1/31/16 President’s Hike
Stimson Mountain Snowshoe – minus the snowshoes. Microspikes were enough. After our Burlington Section annual meeting on January 30th we took a nice almost -sunny day hike up the new Stimson Mountain Long Trail relocation. We starting at the new Winooski Bridge parking lot on Rt. 2, and up the new Stimson Mt. Long Trail relocation. Near the top we broke off the LT to the south-east and bushwacked to the Airway tower and took the same back same way. The approach to the airway tower is not a trail and in some parts the snow had drifted to two or three feet deep and OK, I wish I had lugged the snowshoes up. This is an approx. 6 miles round trip, and 1,800’ gain. With Greg, Cathy & Cathy Tilley, and Susan, and Ted Albers, leader.Stimson

1/24/16 – Stowe Pinnacle
We met at the Waterbury Park and Ride Sunday morning at 8:45 where Ted pulled out his map and claimed he knew a quicker route to get to the trailhead and it would have been if only a road was not closed down for the winter, so we had to trek back down and around to get to the trailhead. So after about 40 minutes of driving around we finally arrived at Stowe Pinnacle trailhead. It was an amazingly clear and sunny morning. Trail conditions were great. A few icy sections where microspikes were helpful to have on.  We saw plenty of other hikers enjoying the outdoors and some dogs as well.  At summit sun was still shining and we stayed on top to have and bite to eat and take in the views.  Was about a 3 hour round trip hike. Great company. All around nice hike. Participants: Wes Volk, Jean Cannon, Mary Roux, Steve, Ted Albers, Lizzie Finnegan, and Clare Albers, Kim Farone (leader).

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1/23/16 – Mansfield Forehead
As has been the case this winter season, one person signs up a handful of days before, then others trickle in. Meeting stop #1 was the Essex Center P&R at 8:30 am; 5 humans and one canine hopped into two vehicles and made our way to the Stephensville trailhead for the #2 stop at 8:50 am. Arrived a bit late, introductions made, signed in, 9 on their way to Butler Lodge. Nice snow and then of course, there’s always “that line” where you get into true winter, where the snow is hanging onto the trees rather than having fallen off. It was beautiful and NO wind! At the lodge, we had the place to ourselves and chocolate chip cookies were handed out. (I almost never check the web site trip descriptions and have no idea what made me mid-last week but glad I did as it was posted that treats would be served!) Some ate their lunch, others just snacked. Rob decided he was not feeling well so turned around here and the remaining 8 made their way to the Forehead via Wampahoofus. Even though cloudy but the sun was really trying to make its appearance, we had great views and still no wind. Trail junction of Maple Ridge had not been broken out. A little wind at the Forehead approach, then great views awaited us. Back to the lodge and as we passed the MR trail junction again, a solo shoe’r popped out of the woods. She was enjoying the day, made mention she’d done a partial bush whack from the trailhead. At the lodge, a couple of groups were gathered, we chatted for a bit, then back to the cars for a few minutes after 2 pm arrival time. Six of us made our way to the Jericho Cafe for hot and cold beverages, french fries and onion soup….great way to end a nearly perfect day! Thanks to all for joining. Participants: Rob Gordon, Reza Ramazani, Gary Kuperblatt, Wes Volk, Jill George, Scott Earisman and Yoda, David Hathaway and Greg Bostock, Robynn Albert (leader). Photos courtesy: Scott, Gary, and Wes.
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1/16/16 – Camels Hump via Monroe Trail
The weather reports were a bit iffy, with precipitation likely and sleet possible, but it looked like it would turn to snow as we ascended so we went ahead (with a substitute leader, since the scheduled leader wasn’t able to go). It was raining when David, Wes, and Gary met at the Richmond park & ride at 9 and when we picked up Judy in Richmond Village, but as we approached the road up from the Winooski River to the Duxbury trailhead it turned to snow. Roads were a bit slick so we drove slow. The snow had finally closed the summer parking area so we parked in the winter lot. Given the continued sparsity of snow and experience on Camels Hump a week earlier we opted to leave snowshoes in the car, but all of us donned microspikes as we started out. Skies were overcast and the temperature was hovering around freezing with light intermittent snow as we started up about 9:45. The trail was packed with a light layer of snow over a solid frozen base (pretty uneven and bumpy in the upper stretches with frozen footprints of previous hikers) so snowshoes were definitely not needed. But the snow was wet and sticky so the microspikes were a questionable choice, as the snow tended to ball up under them. We got a bit spread out on the way up, with the “leader” lagging behind. Judy opted stop at the hut clearing and not summit, and Wes and Gary summited first just after noon, with David a few minutes behind. There was almost no wind almost the whole way up and down, including at the hut clearing, but it picked up considerably at the very summit. We had also hiked up into the clouds around the hut clearing, and they descended with us so we remained in fog until we got back down to the Dean trail junction. We stopped briefly at the hut clearing on the way down for a snack, then headed down pretty quickly, reaching the car around 1:45. Paricipants: Gary Kupperblatt, Judy Harvey, Wes Volk, David Hathaway (substitute leader).
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1/9/16 – Camels Hump Loop
We met at the Richmond park & ride at 9, piled into one car, and headed to the trailhead in Huntington. We started up the Forest City Trail at 9:30, with a temperature right around freezing and low clouds. Given sparsity of recent snow, we left snowshoes in the car, but donned microspikes. All trails were packed, although there was fresh snow over the tracks on the Long Trail section, and even off trail, the snow wasn’t very deep. We had a little wet blowing snow on the way up Forest City Trail, but otherwise encountered no precipitation. We made good time up, with the trip “leader” at the back keeping the pace from getting too fast, and we reached the Long Trail around 10:20. There were a few glimpses of blue sky and sun on the way up the Long Trail, but no real views, and we spent most of the time in the clouds. We reached the summit around noon, but there was a pretty stiff wind, so we waited until we reached the hut clearing to have a snack. We’d seen no one until we reached the summit, but from that point on we saw several groups, though still not many for Camels Hump on a weekend. The “leader” who had been lagging behind to this point proved he’s faster on downhills, and led the group down to the car, which we reached around 1:20. Participants: Gary Kupperblatt, Lisa Hardy, David Hathaway (leader). Photos: David and Lisa.

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1/2/16 – Mt Mansfield
The three non-Underhill folks carpooled to the Underhill Center park and ride where they met the trip leader at 9 AM, and proceeded up to the state park. The road past the winter parking area had a little snow, but was quite passable, so we parked by the state park gate and got on the trail by 9:20. The sky was overcast, the temperature was in the 20s, and wind was calm as we started out. The overcast and wind increased and the temperature dropped as we climbed. Some started without, but we were all wearing microspikes or HillSounds by the time we go to the Cantilever Rock spur trail. We saw several other groups on the way up, mostly Canadians, and were spread out enough (with the trip leader slowly bringing up the rear) that our various groups were often interleaved. There was a strong wind from the southwest of perhaps 30 mph or more as we reached the summit just before noon, but we managed to get a little shelter on the east side of the summit to eat lunch. Since visibility was poor and the strong wind in our faces would have been unpleasant, we opted to abandon the planned ridge traverse, and instead went down Laura Cowles trail, which got us out of the wind much sooner. Walking and occasionally sliding downhill was much faster than than trudging up, so we made good time and reached the cars around 1:45. Participants: Phil Hazen, Holly Creeks, Gary Kupperblatt, David Hathaway (leader). Photos: Phil, Holly, and a passing Canadian hiker.
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1/2/16 – Mt Mansfield
The three non-Underhill folks carpooled to the Underhill Center park and ride where they met the trip leader at 9 AM, and proceeded up to the state park. The road past the winter parking area had a little snow, but was quite passable, so we parked by the state park gate and got on the trail by 9:20. The sky was overcast, the temperature was in the 20s, and wind was calm as we started out. The overcast and wind increased and the temperature dropped as we climbed. Some started without, but we were all wearing microspikes or HillSounds by the time we go to the Cantilever Rock spur trail. We saw several other groups on the way up, mostly Canadians, and were spread out enough (with the trip leader slowly bringing up the rear) that our various groups were often interleaved. There was a strong wind from the southwest of perhaps 30 mph or more as we reached the summit just before noon, but we managed to get a little shelter on the east side of the summit to eat lunch. Since visibility was poor and the strong wind in our faces would have been unpleasant, we opted to abandon the planned ridge traverse, and instead went down Laura Cowles trail, which got us out of the wind much sooner. Walking and occasionally sliding downhill was much faster than than trudging up, so we made good time and reached the cars around 1:45. Participants: Phil Hazen, Holly Creeks, Gary Kupperblatt, David Hathaway (leader). Photos: Phil, Holly, and a passing Canadian hiker.
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