Trip reports for January 2023 (updated 1/30)

1/28 (Sat) Mt Ellen
The newly fallen snow of last week could not have come at a better time for this outing. Six of us met at the Jerusalem trailhead and made our way through the massive sugarbush. Someone had lovingly packed out the trail at its start, some snowshoe tracks and some tracks from likely the sugarbush owner’s ATV checking on his taps. The breakout continued just past the LT, then we took turns out front but it wasn’t that bad as the snow was light and fluffy in many spots. Then we hit the back country skier area and ended up splitting into two groups, not on purpose. The non-LT followers bushwhacked a bit, popped out on the ski hill twice, then found the tracks of the folks who went the right way! We re-grouped near the top chairlift where many skiers were checking us out, or rather our footwear. Quick lunch/food, then back down to the winter wonderland! Great way to start the weekend! Participants: Chris Luczynski, Julie Cimonetti, Liana Edwards, Marcus Keely, Dale Schmit, Robynn Albert (leader). Photos: Chris and Robynn.
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1/21 (Sat) Moosilauke
Nine of us met at the Richmond Park and Ride shortly before 6 AM for the almost two hour drive over to Mt. Moosilauke in NH. After a short pickup in Berlin for an additional hiker we were on our way. Snowy and slippery roads slowed us a bit (as did slow moving salt trucks!), but we arrived at 8 AM and geared up. Our planned route for the day was up the Gorge Brook Trail to the summit across the AT to the south summit and then down the Carriage and Snapper Trails before returning to the road. About 9.5 miles total with about 3K of elevation gain. The hike up was fairly gradual with a nice snow pack throughout. (We were the first group laying tracks so opted for snowshoes.) The hike up was uneventful with gradually clearing skies offering some nice views to the east as we head up. The conditions changed dramatically as we approached tree line. What was a pleasant (for many of us coat-less) hike up turned windy and very cold with limited visibility as we entered the cloud covering the summit. Temperatures were just above zero with wind chills estimated to be around – 20 degrees. We spent just a few minutes on the summit for photos before seeking the AT to head to South Peak. Trail finding would have been challenging, but the placement of large cairns helped guide us across the exposed summit and back into the trees toward South Peak. Views at South Peak were also limited due to cloud cover, but the wind was less extreme. We made our way back to the trail junction for a short lunch before joining the Carriage and Snapper Trails for a relatively easy and fun hike through the evergreens which would take us back to the road at the Ravine Lodge to make our way back to the parking lot. Participants: Julie Cimonetti Liana Edwards, Robynn Albert, Jill George, Michael Mortelliti, Tim Welsh, Corinn Julow, Andy Julow, Dale Schmit and Chris Luczynski (Trip Leader)
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1/15 (Sun) Butternut
One Sunday, we climbed Butternut-ty.
The trail was not very muddy.
Our party of ten
came down at the end
with faces all smiley and ruddy.

A gorgeous day and a wonderful group. Trip leader and poet: Mary Lou Recor. Photos, Kate Eberle, Helena Nicolay, Mary Kennan.
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1/14 (Sat) Mansfield Ridge
Four of us met at 8:30 at the Underhill Center commuter lot and took one car up to the winter parking area on the state park road. It was overcast and around 20 F as we started up a little before 9 AM. Although we did the 0.9 mile road walk from there, the road was actually passable all the way to the state park, where the gate was open. The CCC road gate was also open, and someone (who may not have known that they weren’t supposed to) had driven all the way up the CCC road to the Sunset Ridge trailhead. With heavy foot (and car) traffic we hike in just boots all the way to the Sunset Ridge trailhead, but about halfway along the CCC road we put on snowshoes, which we used for the rest of the hike until we got back to the CCC road. The snow was very crusty under a light layer of powder, so our snowshoes provided great traction even going up some relatively steep snow slopes. We reached the bottom of Maple Ridge around 10:15. The snow was piled pretty high below the rock face on Maple Ridge, and it looked climbable, but with tricky with snowshoes, so we opted for the short bypass to the left. Somewhere above the Rock Garden junction we found a jacket frozen into the snow, half hanging from a tree branch. David crunched it into a wad and bungied to the back of his pack (if you lost a jacket up there, send him a description at david.hathaway.78@gmail.comand he’ll get it back to you). About this time the sun came out and we found ourselves in a “blue bowl.” Blue sky above and sun, but clouds on all sides. The blue bowl followed us until we reached the Sunset Ridge junction, where we went back into the clouds and overcast. It was getting very windy as we reached the Forehead around 12:30, and then turned onto the Long Trail. There was evidence of past hikers without snowshoes, including some one to two foot deep post holes, so we were glad to be wearing them. We followed the access road past the LT turn to the visitor center since the headroom along that short stretch is low at the best of times, and even lower with snow on the ground and a snow load on the trees. We followed the Long Trail along the ridge and stopped for lunch in a sheltered pocket behind some rocks and small trees just before the Sunset Ridge junction. We headed up to the summit, reaching it a little after 2, and on our way down saw the first other people we’d seen old day; actually three groups of them. We hit some icy spots on the way down Sunset Ridge, but were OK with our good snowshoes. Between the CCC road and the Laura Cowles junction and the CCC road we saw at least three significant blowdowns, and had also seen some on the CCC road between the Sunset Ridge and Halfway House trails, so a trip up with a chainsaw will be needed at some point. We got back to the car a little after 4. A great hike! Participants: Chris Luczinski, Julie Cimonetti, Jill George, David Hathaway (leader). Photos: David and Chris.20230114_12261120230114_10253220230114_11282320230114_11510420230114_11511620230114_12171320230114_12105620230114_12205920230114_12205220230114_13364820230114_13182720230114_131228

1/7 (Sat) Beane Trail & Molly Stark’s Balcony on the Long Trail
Our team of Ninjas started with hoping for buckets of snow to make for a nice snowshoe walk but ended up like the rest of Vermont hiking on almost bare ground, then crust with a teeny dusting of fresh snow. We walked the Beane Trail (1.5MI) to the Long Trail & Birch Glen Camp, then and headed south on the LT for about 1.3 MI to the Molly Stark balcony, and returned the same way. The trail is in Camel’s Hump State Park and the Beane Trail starts in Hanksville, south of Huntington Center and south of Huntington Gap (and north of the Appalachian Gap). This was a moderate hike overall with a few small scrambles nicely coated in a crust of ice. Nothing that micro spikes couldn’t handle. Maybe 6 miles total but Jeff recorded it as being closer to seven, which could well be. Elevation gain about 1,600’. The view from the Balcony was like looking into a cloud with dancing snow blown around by the winds coming from the west. Considerable chillier even though we were not even at 3,000’ elevation. Ninjas included Phil, Bamby with Fiona the wonder-dog, Jeff, Helena, Bridget, and Ted outing leader. Photos by Jeff, Bamby, Ted, Bridget.

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1/2 (Mon) (almost) First Day hike to Butler Lodge 
The scheduled first day hike got delayed a day due to the rain forecast, but eight of us met the next day at 9 AM at the Underhill Center commuter lot, and took three cars up to the trailhead. The road was muddy (no snow or ice) and not too soft. It was cloudy and around freezing as we started up around 9:25. There was some snow and ice on the road from the parking lot to the start of the Butler Lodge Trail, but the first half of the trail was mostly just muddy (not deep enough to be of concern for erosion) and rocky. We saw a couple blowdowns from the recent winds that will need a trail work trip to remove. About halfway up the ice and snow started, and from the spot where the wooden steps are anchored into the rock onward the ice became significant, and the last holdouts donned microspikes. We reached Butler Lodge around 11 after passing a couple folks coming down from having spent the night there. We spent about 20 minutes hanging out and having lunch, then headed back down the trail to reach the cars around 1. A nice first hike of the year with a nice group. Participants: Loren Tindall, Helena Nicolay, Chris Lovett, Amy Poor, Dale Schmit, Fred Pond, Tatyana Bondar, David Hathaway (leader). Photos: David, Dale, Helena.
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