We met at the top of Smuggler’s notch at 9 AM, with David, Christine, and Bailey (David’s wife’s dog) coming up from Jeffersonville, and Rich and Ryan coming up from Stowe. We had just written a note to Ken letting him know we had started off when he rolled in at about 9:10. So at about 9:15 we were on our way. The weather was sunny, cool, and breezy.
We made a good pace with only very brief stops up to the Long Trail junction, Sterling Pond, the top of the Sterling ski lift, and reached Sterling Shelter at about 10 AM, where we woke up Christopher, a Long Trail hiker who was sleeping in.
At this point David let Bailey off leash and he led us on, crossing one ski trail and coming out onto another for the last part of the climb to the top of Madonna Peak, where we could look out on our next goals of Whiteface Shelter and Whiteface (aka Sterling) Peak. We took a slightly longer break there, then went down another ski trail, into the woods down some fairly steep trails and crossing one last ski trail before leaving the ski area.
From there to Whiteface Shelter there were a lot of ups and downs, passing by Morse Mountain, and continuing on to Whiteface Shelter, where we ate lunch and discussed our various knee ailments, among other things. After hearing from David and Rich how steep the trail is up to Whiteface summit, Christine decided to wait for the rest of us at the shelter, and possibly start back slowly. A
fter arranging the “I wasn’t eaten by a bear” signal (she would leave a rock in the shelter if she’d started back), the rest of us started up. We passed one big blow down, and then climbed the trail (very steep, as promised) to the summit, getting there around 1 PM. About this time it began to cloud over, and continued to do so for the rest of the day. On the way back to the shelter, Bailey and David started to pull ahead a bit, and when they got back to the shelter Christine was gone but her rock was there, and so was Christopher (the same LT hiker we’d woken up at Sterling Shelter). As soon as Rich got back to the shelter, David and Bailey headed out again to try to catch up with Christine, promising to wait at the top of Madonna if we got there before the rest caught up. David and Bailey caught up with Christine at the ski trail (David was calling “Bailey, where are you” as he approached the ski trail, and heard Christine call back “he’s right here”).
The three then went up the ski slope to the summit, bypassing the short stretch of trail through the woods between ski trails. They hung out in and around the warming hut (to get out of the wind), finishing lunch, and waiting for Rich, Ryan, and Ken. We all started out again, with Bailey and David in the lead. At some point Bailey got out of sight, and somehow got behind David without either of them realizing it, so David chargerd ahead to catch up with Bailey while Bailey ran back to find David.
At Sterling Shelter David ran into a hiker who, when asked, said he hadn’t seen Bailey, so David figured out what must have happened, and started back to look for Bailey. He passed Christine, Rich, Ken, and Ryan, and got in his trail running for the day going back roughly a half mile, where he found Bailey, leashed him again, and ran back to catch up with the others, which he did a little ways down the Sterling Pond Trail after it diverged from the Long Trail. About this time it started raining, and some (but not all) donned rain gear, but we finished the last section before getting too wet, reaching the cars about 4:45.
Participants – Rich Larsen, Ryan Bean, Christine Simpson, Ken Belliveau, David Hathaway