Trip reports – January-April, 2017 (updated 5/8/2017)

4/30/2017 – Wildflower Hike at Niquette Bay State Park
It’s always hard to figure out which weekend will be the peak wildflower weekend each year.  Usually the very end of April and early May are good, so I selected April 30 for the hike.  I was concerned when there was still snow on the ground two weeks before the appointed day for the hike but then the temps soared into the 70s the week of the hike.  Unfortunately, April 30 turned out to be cold and dreary so the flowers weren’t as lush as some years at this time.  But, we were pleased to find 17 different kinds of wild flowers (see list below).  The white trilium were looking especially good, but there were several nice purple trilium as well.  In addition, we had nice views of the trees budding in the distance. Widlflower list: Bellwort, large- flowered; Blood root; Cohosh, blue; Columbine, wild; Dutchman’s breeches; Ginger, wild; Hepatica; Hobble bush; Meadow-rue, early; Miterwort; Saxifrage, early; Spring beauty; Trilium, large flowered white; Trilium, purple; Violet, common blue; Violet, long-spurred; Wild Oats. Participants:  Rich Larsen, Sarah Moran, Mike Moran, Nancy Leroy, Greg Leroy, Joan MacKenzie, Rosemary Zamore, Carol Sepkosky, Joanie Mallory, Sheri Larsen (leader).

4/29/17 – LaPlatte High-Water Paddle
The water level in the LaPlatte was pleasantly high this day so we could paddle through the forest in places. We entered at the boat put-in on Shelburne Bay and paddled under the crumbling Bay Road bridge and made a little past the railway and Rt. 7 bridges before hitting the inevitable log jams. Gentle current as the late level was high also. Some pretty wildlife including birds that none among us could identify except for the geese, the osprey who has taken up residence in the osprey nest adjacent to the LaPlatte, and the herons. It was hard to ignore the gigantic VT Railway/Barrett Trucking salt transfer facility that now looms over the LaPlatte, just feet from the river – a blight if there ever was one now a space devoid of all wildlife. Thanks to Dave who contributed these photos and to the participants Lee Wrigley, Alan Finn, Dave Hathaway, Ted Albers trip leader.

4/22/2017 – Russell Farm Loop, Hinesburg
Although a number of people expressed interest in the trip on Sunday, in the end only one person came. This was a low elevation hike for mud season, but some sections were still quite muddy and some access trails were closed. Participants: Reid Willis, Beth Ruskai (leader).

4/15/2017 – Young Adventurers Club – Green Mountain Audubon Center, Huntington
We met at the Visitor’s Center and took Hires Trail through the woods, carrying a special leaf from the parking lot up to its place of honor in the crook of a tree at the ‘top of the mountain.’ We stopped along the way to try out our yoga tree pose, move logs off the trail, peer inside woodpecker holes and to enjoy some snacks, of course. A turkey vulture called and circled overhead as we rested at the overlook, then we explored the Forest Camp playground of forts, campfires, kitchen utensils and hanging sparkly ornaments. The spring weather brought clouds but 60 degree temps, and the wind picked up at the end, signaling the coming rainstorm. Participants for our hour-and-a-half long journey: Karen, Jim, Nathan and Aiden; and Aaron, Michelle (trip leaders) and Brendan.

3/26/2017 – Cross Country Ski at Little River
Conditions were mercifully slow
To ski Little River near Stowe.
Our party of two
Avoided the poo
The sled dogs had dropped in the snow.
Poet and trip leader: Mary Lou Recor

3/25/2017 – Buchanan Mountain
Phil Hazen picked up Jill, Mark, and David at various spots and we headed up to the Long Trail crossing on Rt 242 in Jay. The trail was completely unbroken so we all donned snowshoes which stayed on for the entire trip. It was overcast and in the 20s F as we started out around 10:10 AM. The trail was sparsely but reasonably well marked with white painted wood rectangles as we slanted up across the slope to the Gilpin Mt ridge. We lost the trail for the first time shortly before reaching the signed South Gilpin summit around 11:20. From that point on the little blazing we saw was even more sparse and was mostly very faded white paint. So the rest of the trip was in reality pretty much of a bushwhack, aided by GPS. We stayed mostly on course to Domey’s Dome, with only one spot in which we wandered around very much, and reached it around 12:40. After a short lunch break we continued. We separated a bit looking for the trail, and David (with GPS) headed on a bearing toward Buchanan, while Phil, Markm and Jill followed a ridge which looked like a more reasonable descent route, but was actually at roughly a right angle to the Buchanan heading. We had gotten out of earshot of each other, so the three stopped and were considering how to find David when he tracked back to their tracks and found them. We then got back on a bearing for Buchanan and reached it around 3 PM. Although we all had headlamps we decided not to continue on to Bruce Peak. So after a short rest we headed back. The sun came out just after we left the Buchanan summit so we had clear blue skies for our return trip. We made much better time on the way back since we followed our tracks (including all our meandering) and weren’t breaking trail or route finding, reaching road around 5:40. Participants: Jill George, Mark McLane, Phil Hazen, David Hathaway (leader).

3/19/2017 – Stowe Pinnacle
The weather today was a perfect bluebird sky day! Bright and sunny around 35 degrees with mild wind. We decided to hike up starting at the meadows parking lot. Though it had snowed several feet earlier in the week, the trail was packed down so we decided to go without snowshoes.  When we reached the summit, the view was just amazing. We were able to sit up there for quite a while and enjoy the sun and views.  It was hard to leave such a blessing. We hiked back down.  Met many people on the trail and several dogs who seemed to be having a blast. Leader: Kim Farone.

3/12/2017 -Mt Elmore
I had 5 hikers originally scheduled to hike today but with frigid temperatures only in the single digits and winds howling, all canceled the day before except for one brave hiker from the Quechee area who was as determined as I to hike. His name is Nick and he has a passion for hiking up to as many fire towers as he can. This particular one was on his list. We met at 9 a.m. at the Montpelier High School with winds blowing. We looked at each other and said, “Let’s see what we can conquer for the day.”  Off to Elmore we headed.  We had succeeded most of the way, at least up to the old ranger station and then from there on, the footprints in the snow disappeared and for good reason. As we approached the tower area, we came upon quite an icy section in which we attempted but decides it wasn’t worth our lives so we bushwhacked up and around many boulders. I said to Nick, “I am pretty sure if we keep going up and to the right we should fall into the loop path soon enough. ” After traversing up and over boulders and following bunny trails through small openings in the woods, we finally met up with the loop trail and was able to traverse to the fire tower which Nick, not myself, climbed happily to the top.  Capturing yet another fire tower in his many hikes. All the while as I watched, the wind whipped through.  We decided we had enough of an adventure on the way up maneuvering through the woods so we decided to follow the loop trail down to the base. As we approached the base, I caught eye to a nature trail sign and asked Nick if he would like to take a side trip and his reply was something like, “I think I am all set and would like to get to the parking lot”.  One brave soul bound to tackle another tower and that he did. To be honest, it never really did feel like single digits hiking in the woods and what a wonderful adventurous day it was! So glad I had one brave soul to share such a grand hike with. Participants: Nick, Kim Farone (leader).

3/12/2017 – Full Moon Snowshoe Dinner and Fundraiser
A hearty group of about 20+ including several Burlington Section members participated in GMC member Kevin Craft’s fundraiser on Saturday night 3/12. All met at the parking lot at Smuggs on Rt. 108 and after walking the Notch Rd. for about a mile turned left and were blown up the Sterling Pond Trail. 4 degrees at base and -4 at the summit but who cares! The ‘Top of the Notch’ was toasty and we all enjoyed a great meal prepared generously ‘at-cost’ buy the Hearth & Candle Restaurant with proceeds going to the GMC – $710 raised. After dinner using headlamps and the fill-moon we walked down ski-trails into full-on headwinds complete with sandblasting ice-particles thanks to the snowmaking machines talking advantage of the chill to add to their base. Here is a plug for the hosts at Smuggs who offer a similar outing (with option of chairlift-up) Tuesday evenings during the winter. Thanks for the great outing! Ted Albers, participant.
http://www.smuggs.com/pages/winter/amenities/restaurants_lounges.php

3/4/2017 – Cantilever Rock

A below zero F hike just a week after seeing near 60 F at the top of Camels Hump! The scheduled trip was to Cantilever Rock, but Tom and Robynn were considering an “extra credit” trip to the summit. That idea was abandoned after they looked at the higher elevation forecast of a high temperature of -9 F, 30+ mph winds and at -40 F or more wind chill. Six of us met at the Underhill Center commuter lot at 9 AM and took three vehicles to the winter parking area on the state park road. It was around 0 F at the bottom with lightly overcast skies as we started up around 9:15. There was a light coating of snow over ice on the state park road and much of the CCC road and trail, so everyone but David wore spikes for the whole trip. On the way up the road we met Jude Bircks. Like Robynn and Tom, he had been considering hiking farther up the mountain, but hearing of the forecast and the likely icy conditions (he had no spikes) he decided to join us for the rest of the trip. The sun came out as we approached the Cantilever Rock spur trail, but the temperature also dropped noticeably. We spend some time looking around and searching for one of Sheri’s HillSounds that had come off (found  a short way down the trail), then headed back to reach the cars just after noon (though Rich and Sheri took it a bit slower and reached the cars a bit later). Participants: Rich Larsen, Sheri Larsen, Robynn Albert, Tom Smith, Phil Hazen, Jude Bircks, David Hathaway (leader). Photos: Sheri.
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2/25/2017 (Sat) Camels Hump Loop
A great late spring hike – in February! The meeting time at the Richmond park & ride was moved up from 9 AM to 8 AM when the forecast called for rain moving in after 2 PM, although the forecast the morning of the trip moved the likely rain start to 4 PM. We took one AWD car to the upper parking area at Camels Hump State Park and started up Forest City Trail around 8:35 AM. It was overcast but very warm, in the 50s F, so we were all down to shirtsleeves (short sleeves for two of us) almost from the start. With all the snow melt every little watercourse was full, and a few stream crossings were “interesting”. Getting to the side trail to Forest City from the trailhead kiosk required jumping a minor stream. And later on in the hike, especially along the Long Trail, we could hear the water rushing under the snow on which we were walking. Forest City Trail was packed and we were able to navigate it with just boots or microspikes as long as we were careful to stay exactly in the center of the trail. But the Long Trail wasn’t quite as well packed, so we switched to snowshoes when we reached the junction around 9:50. We stuck with snowshoes almost all the way to the summit, though we crossed stretches of bare rock where just boots would have been better and stretches of ice where spikes would have been nice. The snow was soft enough in places along the Long Trail that we occasionally postholed down two or more feet even with snowshoes (but is it a posthole if it’s the size of a snowshoe??). It stayed warm, and probably got close to 60 F, but as we cleared the trees just below the summit around noon the wind became really intense so we layered up just a bit. We guessed the winds around 60 mph (though none of us are very good human anemometers), enough that one could barely stand at the summit. We shed our snowshoes before climbing the final rocks to the summit, and Burrows Trail was again packed well enough that we left them off for the rest of the trip. We had seen no one before reaching the summit, but saw several people between the summit and the hut clearing, a group from Middlebury at the clearing as we ate lunch, and quite a few more people on the way down Burrows. We reached the car around 1:30, for a total hike time of just under 5 hours. Participants: Ted Albers, Dean Wiederin (with Sophie), David Hathaway (leader). Photos: Ted & David.

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2/22/2017 – Meetup – Mansfield via Sunset Ridge
Great spring hike. I was joined by Dean Wiederin and his dog Sophie.  We took one AWD car to the winter parking area. The road and trail was packed, though the packed track diverged from the actual trail in a few places, and we used microspikes for most of the trip. Stepping off the packed trail meant sinking up to your hips. We went to snowshoes where previous peoples’ tracks wandered aimlessly between the base of the west chin and the Long Trail junction and there wasn’t a good packed track to follow. Weather was sunny and warm. We descended via Laura Cowles. Total trip time was about 5.5 hours. Participants: David Hathaway (leader?), Dean Wiederin, Sophie
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2/18/2017 – Young Adventurers Club – Wheeler Nature Park, S. Burlington
We met at the gravel parking lot for a morning meander through Wheeler Nature Park, enjoying a winter wonderland for an hour’s exploring. Vermont served up a beautiful, sunny day with temps in the high 20s, but a blustery wind chilled us as we walked through the meadow (yay for neckwarmers!). We enjoyed sweeping views of Mansfield from the packed trails, with 1 1/2 feet of snow on either side. The group took shelter in the woods for a loop of the inner trail and stopped on a snow-covered rock for snacks. The wooden bridges offered a great place to jump from, and large snowbanks at the parking lot were conquered and slid down. Participants: Kristi and Ava; and Aaron, Michelle (trip leaders) and Brendan.
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2/11/2017 – Wright and Algonquin
With a bit of snow forecasted for the Adks., 5 of us met at the Starbuck’s/ Shaw’s lot on the Shelburne Road at 7 am.  Piled all, people and gear, in Robynn’s car and away we went. Quick stop at the Stewart’s in Port Henry, then onto the trailhead at the Adk. Lodge for our double peak bagging of Wright and Algonquin, possibly Iroquois, too. Started right at 10 am after signing in and on our way to Wright first. Great snow, lots of folks on the trails, a true winter wonderland!  Wright was incredibly icy; as soon as we hit the summit, 4 of the 5 of us immediately changed into spikes.  Jill’s brand new shoes have great claws so she was fine with keeping her footwear intact.  Off Wright, bit of lunch at the junction, Valentine’s Day trivia! then onto Algonquin.  It was very socked in with visibility conditions deteriorating rapidly.  Thank Goodness for the very tall cairns which got us to the summit.  Spent little time, decided Iroquois would need to wait another day, then carefully headed down, not much separation between us, as we were seeking tracks and then cairns. Back to the junction, then butt sliding or butts on sleds on the descent…much fun!  Hit the car at 4 pm ish, then onto The Ausable Inn in Keene Valley for a well deserved table by the fire, round of libations and burgers and nachos, arriving back at cars right around 8 pm. Great day, great group, great adventure and congrats to Jill and Nate for bagging their 1st and 2nd Adk. peaks!!  Nothing like the Adks!!!!!  Participants: Nate Rex, Tom Smith, Jill George, Mark McLane , Robynn Albert (leader). Photo Courtesy: Tom Smith
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2/11/2017 – Meetup – Colchester Pond
This was our second meet up hike which I scheduled the day before and had 6 spontaneous souls join me -Linda P., Ray G. and Laurie, John S. and Janet.  All were relatively new members of the GMC.  The loop is 3.1 miles and took us 1.5 hours wearing our microspikes.  We also ventured down the Peninsula Trail and had a break on the shore.  The terrain is varied with a few steep sections and some open fields. The woods were lovely with light snow falling. Nancy McClellan, leader.

1/29 (Sun) Duxbury Window
A dozen strong recovered from the Burlington Section Annual Meeting taking a hike up to the Duxbury Window. This Long Trail hike started at the trail head on Duxbury Road near the Winooski River at the lowest point on the LT. The trail followed Gleason Brook and up Bamforth Ridge, one of the flanks of Camel’s Hump. Fortunately the Section President had guaranteed nice weather and “OK views or your money back” so no refunds were needed. While this was an easy microspike walk of about 3.2 miles with 950′ elevation gain, immediately to the south of the Duxbury Window as one heads towards the Bamforth Ridge Shelter, the authentic climbing begins. Those familiar with the LT at the point will recall a somewhat steep rock-faced climb, just north of the Banister Ledge. Four of our group took off to head up this ice-clad abyss while the rest of us returned as planned. Soon enough, however, the other four abandoned their adventure and headed back to the parking lot with the rest as without a rope or serious spikes, no on was going to make it up! Ted Albers, trip leader with Cathy T., Andy and Linda S., Melino R., Jeri A., Kristin M., Nancy M., Eliot D., Linda S., Phil H. Photos by Kristin and Phil, and one by Ted (GMC Instagram by Kristin)

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1/28/2017 –  Stowe Pinnacle
With a few inches of new powder, we parked at the “upper lot” for this short outing lots of discussion on what was the upper and lower lot but we figured it out!  Gorgeous day with clouds lifting as we hit the summit where a bit of wind greeted us, ate a very early lunch, then headed back to the junction where we unanimously made the decision to make this a loop rather than out and back to gain a bit more distance.  Took off our spikes once we hit the “lower lot” and huffed it back to Phil’s truck.  A great day with a pit stop at 1st Republic Brewery post-hike and pre-annual meeting! Participants: Phil Hazen, Robin Lessoff, Tom Smith, Robynn Albert (leader). Photos: Phil Hazen.
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1/21/2017 – Young Adventurers Club – Mills Riverside Park, Jericho We met at the covered bridge at Mills Riverside Park at 9:30am and meandered into the trees for some climbing. From there we explored around the small pond and enjoyed collecting sticks and finding a bird nest. After a snack of blueberry muffins in the pavilion, we saw lots of deer scat in the woods while hiking up a somewhat icy trail (stopping to listen to rocks plop into a puddle) to the flat camping ground before circling back for more tree climbing. Four families joined the hike, with little ones ranging in age from 2 ½ to 9 years. Despite the misty rain and temps in the mid-30s, our intrepid adventurers played for an hour. Participants: Kristi and Ava; Laura and Lily; Tiana and Kai; and Aaron, Michelle (trip leaders) and Brendan.
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1/17/2017 -Meetup – Taylor Lodge
Great hike on a sunny day with great hiking companions on a well packed (but very icy in spots!) trail. We didn’t need snowshoes, but microspikes were extremely useful! We followed the LT on the way up, but the ice on the beaver pond was solid, so we took the level shortcut across it back to the boy scout bridge, skipping a short steep up and down section. Ray Geddens, Lori Johnson, David Hathaway (leader).

1/14/2017 – Camels Hump
The previous few days leading up to this outing saw warm temps meaning a thaw in mid-January in VT.  Not what we wanted for this outing but that’s what spikes are for, right??  We met at the Richmond P&R and proceeded to the trailhead where our group for the day was complete with seeing Tracy in the lot.  We headed out at 9:25 for the Forest City trail and met up at the Montclair Glen Lodge jct.; some headed over to see the shelter, others held back and one or two proceeded to the LT.  Nice day, a bit overcast but the clouds lifted during our ascent enough to see the Whites.   A bit of excitement….Phil and I came upon Steve sitting on the trail, calmly telling us he’d lost his cell phone.  Phil had picked it up about 1/4 mile back and mentioned he was afraid to touch a Samsung phone for fear it might catch on fire!  Oh boy!  We hit the summit and then proceeded to the clearing for eats, conversation and Phil talking about the newly established GMC BTV section Meet Up group.  Headed down about 12:50 and made the parking lot at 2:10 where Tim had Long Trail “cooling” in the back of his car….what a great treat for the end of a great hike with great folks.  One last piece of excitement just before the trailhead…Phil, while running full speed ahead, dropped his camera off his pack so Tracy and I, following him, had some fun with his temporary loss!  Never a dull moment on a GMC BTV section winter outing!  Participants: Jill George, Sylwia Felek, Tom Smith, Tracy Sweeney, Tim Welsh, Phil Hazen, Steve Titcomb, Nate Rex, Patrice Gaillard, Robynn Albert (leader). Photos: Steve Titcomb, Tim Welsh, Phil Hazen
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1/8/2017 – Butler Lodge via Nebraska Notch
We met at the Underhill Center at 9 AM and took 4 vehicles up to the Stevensville trailhead. It was cold (around 5 F) but sunny as we started up around 9:20. We all brought snowshoes, but the trail was very well packed so most of us started with just boots, or microspikes or some other kind of traction device. We made good time, reaching the Long Trail junction around 10:10. The Long Trail was also pretty well packed at first, but we started postholing due to deeper and drifted snow as we climbed, so all but two of us were in snowshoes by the time we reached Butler Lodge. We had spread out quite a bit along the way, so some folks had been there for about 20 minutes by the time the last of us arrived around 12:25. The temperature never really rose, but there was also very little wind. We had lunch in the lodge, but those who had been waiting started down about 10 minutes after the last of us arrived, with the rest following shortly. Butler Lodge trail was again hard packed, so most of us were out of snowshoes by the time we reached the cars, around 1:45. Participants: Jill George, Phil Hazen, Robynn Albert, Cedric Baele, Beth Royer, Steve Titcomb, Nate Rex, Maria Baiulescu, Jim Mosenthal, Greg Bostock, Jay Strauss, David Hathaway (leader). Photos: David Hathaway, Steve Titcomb.

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