12/17/2017 Sterling Pond 
We started nice and late at about 10:15am from the Sterling Pond trail entrance on snowed-in Rt. 108 in Smugglers Notch. More perfect weather could not have been asked for – sunny and quite cold, no wind. The sun was on the east-facing iced-over cliffs of the Notch and made quite a sight. So did the ice and snow covered summit of Mansfield ducking in and out of the clouds. The wind must have been howling up there. The ascent took under an hour on snowshoes, not bad for breaking trail with new snow. The LT connects near the summit of Spruce Peak at a T-intersection with a wider ski trail (Snuffy’s) where we turned left at the sign for Sterling Pond Shelter. It is a short walk to the pond and then on to the top of Smugg’s to watch the skiers and lunch near the porch of the Top of the Notch. I brought skates in the off-chance the snow had blown off the pond, but no such luck as it was about 4 to 6” deep but i have a goal of skating on Sterling Pond soon. With Jill, Susan and Dave and trip leader Ted Albers.

12/3/2017 – Butler Lodge via Nebraska Notch
A big group for this trip, half from meetup and half from our traditional outings listing.  We met at the Underhill Center commuter lot at 9 AM, with everyone on time and many early (thanks!). The lot is small and there were a lot of us, so some cars headed up to the trailhead to make room while we waited for the last folks to arrive. The last bit of road to the trailhead and the parking area were the iciest spots we encountered, so many folks donned microspikes right away. After introductions we started up the trail around 9:30. Temperatures remained around freezing or a little above for the whole trip. We started out with sun, but overcast moved in by the time we reached the Long Trail, around 10:05. The trail had been mostly bare with spots of snow and ice, but as we continued up the Long Trail and approached Butler Lodge we ran into enough snow that a few folks who had been carrying snowshoes put them on. We’d become spread out a bit, and as the last of us reached Butler Lodge around noon, five people who had been there a while and were getting cold started down. One person chose to leave the group and head up to the forehead, and another group of four started down a few minutes later. After the last five of us finished a quick bite at the lodge, we also headed down around 12:10, catching up with the middle group of four as we reached the trailhead around 1:10. Overall a fun trip with a fun group. Participants: Steve Titcomb, Elan, Karthik, K-man, Sun Kim, Holly Creeks, Tom Hall, Tom Mowatt, Susan, Dasha Zentrichova, Cathy Tilley, Cathy McIsaac, Greg Bostock, Laura Selman, David Hathaway (leader).

12/2/17 – Cascade and Porter
Initially advertised as a mystery hike to the Adirondacks, I get serious about thinking where we’ll actually hike/ shoe when someone signs up.  Austin and Jim sent me messages a week before the trip, just a few hours apart, so I did need to get doubly serious!  We met at the Starbuck’s on the Shelburne Road at 6:45 am, piled into 3 cars as Deborah originally wanted to skip the after hike gathering in Keene Valley. Quick stop in Port Henry at the Stewart’s, then back on the road, Marcy Field trailhead around 8:40 am, on the trail by 9 am.  Conditions were hard packed, then mud, then a slight sheen of ice, followed by a few inches of snow and ice here and there. The best part of the whole day, both peaks, was NO wind and high level clouds.  We never saw the sun but that did not deter great 360-views.  Many hikers out, no tracks on the Garden route but some that we spoke with came up Cascade from Route 73.

Tracy had not been out in a while on the trails so she turned around just before the Porter peak, then Dan turned around at Porter.  They eventually met up and headed back to the cars with only a 45 minute wait for the last of the 3 of us who came out with headlamps at 5 pm after hitting both Porter and Cascade with Blueberry Blueberry Mtn. as our first stop in the morning.

And of course, the obligatory stop at a local pub, this time The Ausable Inn in Keene Valley, where it was very busy, but the fireplace was going, the beer was cold and the eats were perfect for our palates.  Great hike, great day, great people! Particpants: Austin Hornyak, Jim Watkins (photos), Deborah Kulisch, Tracy Sweeney, Dan Hinson, Phil Hazen , Robynn Albert (leader)

11/10/2017 – Trail clearing on the LT
An unannounced trip. We met at the Route 2 Long Trail parking area at 9 with temperatures around 20 and a fierce wind blowing. We headed north on the LT and cleared perhaps 10 or so blowdowns of various sizes and a lot of small stuff. We didn’t quite make it to the AT trail up from the sugar shack on the Bolton access road. We turned around because it was very cold and windy, and because Ted had a meeting to get back to. David scouted ahead and there is still one pretty big blowdown (a birch at the bottom of a little dip) a little south of the ATV trail, and a low small cherry trunk a little north of it that is pretty easy to step over, but worth removing the next time we have a saw up that way. He didn’t get all the way to the ATV trail in my scouting. At the end of the trip David turned the section chainsaw and paraphernalia over to Ted, who may go out and do some more clearing . Participants: David Hathaway, Ted Alber, Andrew Fontanez, Pippa (dog).

11/9/2017 – Trail clearing on Mt Mansfield
One other person signed up to go on meetup, but got a flat and couldn’t make it. I went up Nebraska Notch and then north on the LT to about 0.2 miles north of Butler Lodge, where the trail turns east long the base of some cliffs. I continued past Wallace Cutoff because I’d met three backpackers coming south who told me of a large blowdown there. I cleared a lot of small stuff and about 12 trees needing the chainsaw that day, mostly stuff one could step over or leaners one could duck under, but which impeded easy passage, but also perhaps 4 bigger ones really blocking the trail. Participant: David Hathaway

11/7/2017 – Trail clearing on Mt Mansfield
The damage wasn’t as bad as I feared. We moved a lot of small stuff, and used the chainsaw on two on Butler Lodge, one at the top of Wampahoofus and Maple Ridge, and 5 on Rock Garden. Butler Lodge, Rock Garden, Wampahoofus, Maple Ridge (above Frost) and Frost Trails are now all clear. Participants: Pam Gillis, Jim Watkins, David Hathaway.

11/5/17 – Tillotson & Belvidere
We aimed to meet at the Cambridge park & ride at 9 AM, but were closer to 9:20 after a wrong turn by one car on the way. We consolidated into three cars, had another delay on the way to clean up in a stream after a dog accident in another car, and eventually reached the trailhead and got on the trail around 10:25. It was warm for the time of year and sunny as we started. We anticipated a lot of blowdowns after the windstorm a week earlier, and did move a fair number of small trees and branches off the trail all through the trip, but we didn’t see too much damage as we went up the Frank Post Trail. We reached Tillotson Camp around 11:30, then continued up the LT north through some of the usually wet trail sections to reach Tillotson Peak noon. After tagging the summit we returned to Tillotson Camp for lunch around 12:20 with the clouds moving in. We started out again, and a few sprinkles developed as we got nearer Belvidere, but they didn’t last, and the real rain held off until we got back to the cars. The number and size of blowdowns also increased. We headed up the spur trail to reach the Belvidere summit around 2:30, where a few of us climbed the tower. It was very windy at the top of the tower, but the clouds had completely moved in by then, so there were no views. We then headed down the Foresters Trail reaching the cars just before dark around 4:40. We saw and reported to GMC HQ 14 blowdowns requiring chainsaw work. The trails were very wet; a lot of the trails in this area could benefit greatly from puncheon or stepping stones. Participants: Steve Titcomb, Melinda Carpenter, Deborah Kulisch, Dave Bristol, Nick Lanzillo, Susan Kapp Monaghan, Abby (dog), Rigby (dog), David Hathaway (leader).

11/4/2017 – Lincoln and Lafayette
This long awaited outing date finally arrived!If all who’d originally signed were able to make the hike, there would have been a contingent of 12 headed to NH. Unfortunately, many canceled for various reasons and were missed. Three of us met at the Richmond P&R at 6:45 am, then proceeded to the Montpelier P&R where we picked up Jill and headed on our way to Lafayette Place Campground trail head.  (Side note: Tom and I hiked this same loop one month before as a “practice” run to prepare for this outing; we had zero visibility in early October but very warm, nearly 60 degrees, temps. Due to the Columbus Day/ Canadian Thanksgiving holidays, the trail was packed with gobs of hikers.) We arrived around 8:45 am, found a place to park near the foot tunnel and proceeded on our way, ascending the Falling Waters trail around 9:15 am. Many hikers were out for what was expected to be a mid-20’s, low wind, high visibility day.  We experienced dry, then muddy, then icy conditions, the latter being very minimal but we were all cautious as to our footing since the wet rocks could have been water or ice, very hard to tell in some spots.  We veered 2/10 mile off the main trail to hit the Shining Rock viewpoint.  What a great way to divert for a few minutes; not only was the view not to be missed, the water flowing under the ice on the slab was very cool! Back to the main trail, where we hit Little Haystack first, then Lincoln, then Lafayette. As we hit the ridge, the ice disappeared and the winds kicked up a bit but for just a few minutes. Fortunately, all of us were prepared with the proper clothing and we stopped to eat lunch around 12:15 ish atop Lincoln.  The views of ponds, the many peaks of the ranges, Greenleaf Hut, many slides, Cannon Mountain Ski Area, etc. were just spectacular. It was such a great day to be out. And with Halloween having just passed, what else could we have found strapped by bungee to a rock but a plastic skeleton, dressed in black!  Can’t say I’ve ever seen this before, have you??!!  Onto Greenleaf Hut we went which had just closed days before for the season.  During the ascent, we experienced a few blow downs from the previous weekend’s wind storm; the descent saw quite a bit more of these, where we straddled, crawled under or made our way around various trees. We spoke briefly to a forest ranger who was taking pics and videos of the damage to assess what needed to be taken care of sooner than later.  The Whites experienced quite a bit of damage.  We made it back to the trail head around 4:50 pm, then headed to The Woodstock Inn in No. Woodstock, about a 10 minute drive from the campground, for eats and drinks.  We were back at the Richmond P&R around 8:45 pm. A full day but oh so fulfilling! Participants: Jill George, Tom Smith, Dave Churchill, Robynn Albert (leader). Photos:  Tom and Dave.

10/21/2017 – Camel’s Hump via Forest City and Burrows
The perfect fall 2017 weather continued for this outing! What a super day, super group, super fun! I could repeat how spectacular the day was with the temps to be in the mid-70s by mid-day but if you spent any time in VT, I don’t need to tell you how lucky we really have been. Met at the Richmond P&R, headed to Huntington trail head where we met Jill, a very full parking lot and a loose dog (who we eventually found out took off from its owners after they summited). Got the last of 2 parking spots and away we went! Met not another soul until well above the Montclair Glen turn off. Chuck S. from Shelburne was leap frogging us and “unofficially” joined the group at the summit. He recently moved to VT and has been up CH many times but not the Forest City trail. With the sun and late October warmth, the summit was a bit crazy. Many dogs and one 7-month old who was crying its poor lungs out but mom was calm and collected. Lunch at the summit and my friend Dan appeared to join us, too, another bonus! To the clearing hut we went, then the descend, where we encountered many headed up Burrows, esp. more dogs and kids. Everyone seemed to be in a great mood! Mark had packed a cooler of beer so we had to stay in the lot for a bit before leaving the trail head. The road was crammed with cars, in some spots on both sides, which made the drive a bit tricky now and then! Ended our day at Stone Corral in Richmond. It was just about as perfect as one could hope – mountain, friends, laughs, sun! Participants: Rob Gordon, Jill George, Mark McLane, Greg Bostock, Robynn Albert (leader & photographer).

10/15/2017 – Little Otter Creek
A wind-blown group of four did their best to make a success out of a paddle that took them up Little Otter Creek (just to the north of Kinsland Bay State Park) near Vergennes. Ted paddles a canoe that acted more like a spinnacer – alone – and turned back early. The others made it farther up (south-east) the creek, past duck hunters and enjoyed the tailwind home. Thanks to Russ Kinaman for paddling this with Ted a day earlier as it was Ted’s first time there “leading” the trip. The weather that day was perfect! With Lisa and Doug Merrill and Kathy Tilley. Photos from the participants. This is from the VT Fish and Wildlife: Little Otter Creek Wildlife Management Area (WMA) is located in west central Vermont in the town of Ferrisburg near Lake Champlain. The State of Vermont owns 1,4 acres near the mouth of the Creek. The property is managed by the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department. Access by boat is via the put-in on Hawkins Road near the causeway, or from the mouth of the Creek in Hawkins Bay. See a great map here (opens in new window.)

10/14/2017 – Raven Ridge
We took the boardwalk across the swamp from the parking lot, and used the well-marked Nature Conservancy trail. The weather was excellent with great views along the ridge. A few trip members made their way down a steep narrow side trail to view the unusual geologic formation known as “the oven”. After going along the ridge we descended and looped back using a partially relocated trail. The first section coming off the ridge was quite steep. Participants: Jean Battelle, Barbara Beane, Roger Crouse, Arthur Westing, Carol Westing, Mary Beth Ruskai (leader).

10/1/2017 – Mansfield Forehead
We met at 9 AM at the Underhill Center park & ride and took one car to the Stevensville trailhead. The lot was already pretty full when we arrived, and skies were clear with temperatures in 30s as we started up Butler Lodge Trail around 9:20. We saw a strange beech tree that looked like it had a small bush growing out of its cut off trunk, and I learned that this is called “pollarding” when it is done intentionally. We admired extensive recent work on waterbars along the trail and learned how recent it was when we met the GMC / Americorps group doing the work at Butler Lodge around 10:30. They had also been doing the same work on Maple Ridge and Frost Trails. There was lots of construction stuff around the lodge for the rebuilding of the porch, but we stepped around it and took a break for a snack in the lodge before continuing up Wampahoofus to reach the Forehead around 11:40. The wind was mild until started the final climb to the top, but was pretty strong as soon as we got out of the trees. After a brief break at the top we headed back down Maple Ridge and Frost Trails to reach the car around 1:30. Participants: Steve Titcomb, Greg Bostock, Jan Weyant, David Hathaway (leader).

9/24/2017 – Mansfield via Sunset Ridge
Trip report to follow. Trip leader Wolfgang Hokenmaier

9/23/2017 – Mt Norris
In all its splendor before us
Stood the enchanting Mount Norris.
We were but seven
On our bit of heaven.
The view from the top is just glor’ous.
Trip leader & poet: Mary Lou Recor

9/17/2017 – South Boquet Mt (NY)

We took the ferry across Lake Champlain from Charlotte to Essex at 9am under heavy fog.  We took the Wildway Overlook trail to the summit ridge of South Boquet.  There were lots of ferns of different kinds along the trail, as well as fall wild flowers.  The trail ends on a rocky area with great views to the East across the lake.  Although the fog had lifted, it was still overcast and one could just barely make out Camel’s Hump.  On the return ferry ride, it was clear enough to look back and see both North and South Boquet mountain. The trail is well maintained and easy to follow with a steady uphill.  Elevation gain of about 660 feet and less than a mile each way. Participants: Marina Kisyova, Deborah Kulisch, Cathy Tilley, Jean Battelle, Barbara Beane, Priscilla Jackson, Beth Ruskai (leader).

9/9/2017 – Duck Brook Trail Work Trip
John and Phil started around 7 AM from West Bolton Notch Road, and the rest of started around 9 from Jonesville. We’d spotted two cars near the sand pits on West Bolton Notch Road, so we could bushwhack out to them after meeting in the middle. John and Phil cleared a lot of blowdowns, and reported a lot of brush clearing is still needed near the beaver pond. The rest of us spend most of our effort with loppers and swizzle sticks clearing weeds and small brush. We did clear one large blowdown just south of Duck Brook Shelter, so dragging up the chainsaw wasn’t a waste of effort. The blazing along the trail definitely needs work, but it was too wet to do much on this trip. We all met up just as it started raining, had lunch at the shelter, and bushwhacked out to the cars around 1. Participants: David Hathaway, Rob Gordon, Samantha Ketover, Matt Ketover, Phil Hazen, John Sharp.

9/2/2017 – Whiteface (Rt 108 to Rt 15)
We met at 8:30 AM at the Cambridge park & ride, then left one car at the Rt 15 Long Trail parking area and headed up to the top of Smuggler’s Notch. It was around 50 F and sunny as we started out around 9:10 AM. We saw surprisingly few people for a beautiful Labor Day weekend day on the way up to Sterling Pond, which we reached around 9:50. We reached Madonna Peak about 11:05 and had a snack, then continued to reach Whiteface Shelter for another snack around 1:00, and on up to Whiteface summit around 1:20. We reached Bear Hollow Shelter around 3:00, where we saw a number of dead or damaged trees uncomfortably close to the shelter; hopefully these will be removed before they do any damage to the shelter. We continued on to reach the car at Route 15 around 4:40. Great trip with a great group. Participants: Phil Hazen, Darren Brault, Jennifer Platten, Melinda Carpenter, David Hathaway (leader).