I’d been tracking the weather the previous few days and it was WINDY! atop Mansfield, forecasting gusts between 65 and 70 mph…. but as luck would have it for this outing, we were due for a very clear day with nearly zero winds. Four of us met at the Essex Center P&R at 8 am and headed to the Underhill State Park (no problem getting right to the main / summer lot) where we met Rob, who’d brought his friend Mark M. Introductions, then onward…. CCC Road, to Halfway House trail where we encountered a bit of ice, then more, then more, where micro spikes were the required footwear.

Not far from the top of that trail, Mark B. found an iPhone 6 (we’d seen a note in the register that one was lost, owner a UVM student on Nov. 15 and to call such and such number). We held onto it…more on this later.

Made our way over the ridge where we encountered little ice but folks, many from UVM who Rob was interested in as he’s a professor there, many not having the proper footwear! This always amazes me… but they were having fun and we saw no broken bones or blood to that point so all was well! We met a father / son duo who were hiking a chunk of the LT (remember, it’s nearly the end of November…. they had started 8 days ago, and were going to go a few more days, then take some time off for the holidays and pick back up after the new year) and learned the son works for the AT in Maryland so we had great conversations with him. Stowe had their snow guns going what looked like full blast towards the top and near the base but we agreed, based on this week’s forecast, a Turkey Day opening for them was not going to happen.

Hit the summit around 12 Noonish, a bite to eat out of the wind (which was pretty mild) below the summit and then onto Laura Cowles where we encountered much more ice than on the HH trail, but the temps were incredible. We never had to bundle up, and this same hike last year, we were knee and waist deep in the snow on the summit..what a difference a year makes, huh??!!

Arrived back at our cars around 2:20 pm and onto the Jericho Cafe and Tavern for a mid-day libation and fries…. a great day with great company! i

Phone story – Chapter 2…. Mark B. called the contact number, student claimed to own the phone after a Q&A by Mark, in CT for the holiday break, will be re-connected with his phone next week!

Max Seaton, Phil Hazen, Mark Blanchard, Rob Gordon, Mark Melendy, Robynn Albert (leader).

Photos courtesy: Phil Hazen & Mark Melendy.