I had been keeping one eyeball on the weather for a few days ahead of time as we were to get rain, rain, rain at week’s end which did occur but the Saturday forecast sounded outstanding. Eight raucous souls met at the Essex Center P&R at 8:45 am. This was my first lead hike of the Fall 2014 season, taking my usual hiatus for the summer from the club to road ride. It was great to be back with “the old gang”! From here, we headed to the Underhill State Park and the trailhead where we met Melissa and Rink and Rink’s dog Kiwi, who ended up being the perfect hiking pooch. The ladies are UVM grad students and immediately fit right in with all others who mostly knew each other from previous outings. Now we’re 10 and headed up, up, up.

Snow met us at the parking area and increased with the elevation. We were not sure what we were in for re: views but the weather Gods were on our side – we hit it just right at the summit with a bit of wind but mostly clear skies. Up to this point, we had only met folks at the parking gate and then again at the “second” trailhead. Then the flood gates opened where, for the rest of the day, we met lots of folks from summit to descent. Everyone, of course, was in a great mood and why not? The day was nearly perfect.

A few memorable events always take place that are trip report worthy during an outing and this one did not disappoint either….Rink grew up in New Zealand so there are a few phrases that do not translate from us to them and vice versa such as “pulling your chain” (when you have the pleasure of meeting her, ask her what this means in her world; she laughed like crazy when she heard this and we laughed in reverse of the NZ meaning…), Phil received a new nickname from Melissa, that being “the guy with the alcohol” (mind you, we had not reached the summit yet and I am pretty sure we were this side of high noon!), Wes was so proud to have seen someone, a male, leave their name in the snow (he didn’t see this occur, just the outcome of it!) and the highlight was stopping at the Cantilever Rock intersection, where a young couple had just made their descent from the outcropping, the female telling us there are lots of rocks up there and then jutting out her left hand to show us her brand new rock! WOW! Surely a first for us all. (When I later saw them at the sign-in area, I asked the male of the duo if he had planned a VT engagement. He proudly said yes!) And lastly, Dean and his four-legged girl, Sophie, were able to join us as we were basking in the sun for lunch at the top of the Sunset Ridge trail after hitting the summit.

Robynn Albert (leader), Melissa Bainbridge, Rink Tacoma, Wes Volk, Mark McLane, Laura Seman, Max Seaton, Phil Hazen, Mark Blanchard, Lynda Hutchins, Dean Weiderin. Photos: Phil Hazen, Wes Volk, and Melissa Bainbridge.