Mt. Mansfield and Camel's Hump, VT

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A wet climb of the Vermont state highpoint, Mt. Mansfield, and Camel's Hump the next morning.

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I flew into Boston on Thursday and Big Tom met me at the airport. Leaving the city behind, we drove through a heavy-duty thunderstorm at warp speed to Tom and Karen's place at Mad River Glen, Vermont. Mad River Glen is a ski area. From their cabin, if it takes about three minutes to walk to the chairlift.

On Friday, Tom and I built the railing for his deck under beautiful, sunny skies. Tom put a last coat of stain on, and we headed in to rest. About an hour later, it started raining.

When we woke at 6am on Saturday morning, it was pretty wet out, and still drizzling off and on as we headed for our rendezvous with Amy. I had the impression that Amy has game, and sure enough- she was at Tom's meeting spot within sixty seconds of 7 o'clock. We all piled in to Tom's rig for the exhilarating drive (any drive with Tom is exhilarating) to the trailhead.

About 8, we started hiking at Tom's fast pace. Even though we were moving fast, we had a great conversation, getting to know one another's life stories a bit. At first, it was just wet and cold. Then it started to rain.

 

On the lower hike through the forest, I didn't take pictures because there wasn't much to see. Also, by the time I got the camera out and put it back, Tom and Amy had disappeared ahead of me. So this is my only shot, heavily photoshopped because the flash went off and illuminated the fog/rain. But that is our trail running up the center of the picture. You can identify it by the small waterfalls- which got larger as the day wore on.....

 

 

 

Bob with Alpine Lake behind

Most of the trail is on solid granite, winding through heavy forest. You'd have to turn sideways to get off trail because the trees are so thick. But near the top, the trail winds and climbs over some Class 3 rock to above timberline and so it is marked with white painted dashes. The dashes reminded me of riding the Slick Rock trail in Moab.

When we got to the summit, the visibility was down to about 50 yards, and the wind was gusting in the upper 30s or lower 40s- strong enough to make walking difficult. We were all soaking wet, so to prevent freezing to death, we did not even stop. We found out later that the Mt. Washington hillclimb, a bicycle race in nearby New Hampshire, was cancelled because it was below freezing on top and officially blowing 87 mph.

We descended a trail marked "Extreme weather route" called the Profanity Trail. We decided that the waterfalls found here were even more slippery than those we had swam in on the way up. Plus, it was steeper. We tried to keep the profanities to a minimum, but it was a challenge.

We pretty much had the mountain to ourselves until about 11am, when we got near the bottom. By that point, the rain had abated and it looked like it might clear up...but it never did. We were still wringing wet when we got back to the car, but still managed to enjoy Tom's drive-by tour of Stowe ski area, the Trapp family lodge (Trapp family from the Sound of Music), and the headquarters of Ben and Jerry's ice cream. When we got back near Mad River, we got to see Camel's Hump, a peak we had considered climbing on the way back... but we were just too wet. Boots full of water, wringing socks, etc.

When we got back to the house, we changed into dry clothes and then hung out with Karen, Tom's wife, and their two darling little girls. We picked blackberries, hiked up the ski slopes a ways, and then did indoor fun like read books, eat, etc. For some reason it did not rain during this time, and the sun was trying to peek through. Good news for tomorrow?

The next morning our gear was mostly dried out and we had a little time left before we had to head back to Boston. So we went back and hiked the Burrow's Trail up Camel's Hump. On the drive over, we could see most of the Hump, but not the summit. But the fog was descending. Although it wasn't raining and there weren't really any waterfalls in the trail, it was remarkably similar to the day before. However, since it wasn't soaking wet on top, we did take a few pictures on the summit.

Then it was time to run home, put the wet stinky boots and clothes in the suitcase and beat feet for Beantown.

Scree traverse
Note: For you westerners who think that a 4000' peak is a mere bump (and I used to be one of you), these are fairly tough hikes. The "trail" is almost entirely on roots and rocks of various sizes and arrangement. I used my hands quite a bit, particularly on the descent, where we all fell down a time or two. Then you plug in Big Tom's rate of ascent, and you've got yourself a challenge.

Mr. Natural Home | 2007 | Back to top of page | Questions :: e-mail to splattski