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Green Mountains: Short, Colorful, and Full of Tree Prisons (Day 72)

September 27th, 2009 2 comments

A tree prison is a prison made out of trees, not a prison *for* trees. Although we probably need those.

Nice weather, enough time to recuperate from the Big Slide hike, so time to head for the hills. Since the hike up Mt. Mansfield would’ve taken me to a place I could *drive* to, I decided to hike up the other side of the valley to a destination called Elephant Head, which struck me as a name you could call a person who had a big nose, big ears, and hopefully tusks.

When I’d talked to the park ranger the day before about hiking, he asked me what kind of hikes I like and I told him I’m good for anything so long as it’s not a long, steep ascent through trees that keep you from seeing anything the whole time. He informed me that *that* was all they had in Vermont. He wasn’t kidding. Note to self: you don’t have to go hiking if you know you’re not going to enjoy it. Ah well. Just wondering how many more times I’m gonna have to learn that lesson.

BTW, it’s raining here this morning.

Took almost no photos on the hike, except for at the top of it (at the Elephant’s Head). The photos are all of sides of hills with mostly green, but also orange and yellow trees. Ah, leaves!

elephants-head_sidehillThe close-up ones turned out better.

elephants-head_mt--mansfield-viewSee? BTW, this is Mt. Mansfield, the highest peak in all Vermont. Granted, you can fit all Vermont into a good-sized Costco, but still, the highest.

Anyway, not pictured: the trail you had to take in order to get here. This is where the aforementioned “tree prison” comes in. 2.5 miles hiking straight uphill (close enough) and over slick granite rocks (because they were wet) while tripping through complexes of exposed tree roots (at least they provided hand-holds) to get to *this view*.

Y’know, as a westerner I always figured that east coast hiking must be lame because of how short all the peaks were and the lack of altitude sickness and all that. Turns out the east coast makes up for it by hiking straight uphill all the time. Hat’s off, east coast and whoever the masochists are who go out and do the “Long Trail” (a 272-mile trail from the top to bottom of Vermont), just wow. BTW, these trails would be *fun* (for me) if not for the tree prison aspect. Climbing up roots isn’t a bad thing, unless doing so is rewarded solely by a view of more tree trunks, at which point it just feels like the trail engineers are mocking me.

Once I got down off the Elephant’s Head, I drove down to the ski resort and shelled out $24 (!) to use their 4.5-mile “toll road” to drive up to (near) the top of Mt. Mansfield. The price is ridiculous, but it was definitely the most interesting thing I did while in Vermont. You’re driving through the ski resort up the hill and then once you get to the parking lot, it’s only a mile walk/rock scramble up to the true peak. And for some reason Mt. Mansfield has multiple peaks, all of which are named after face parts. The real peak is called The Chin. The Nose and The Adam’s Apple (for reals) are not as high.

mansfield_stowe-liftSee? Ski resort.

mansfield_the-noseThe high part there is The Chin. The house-like part there is the top of the Stowe gondola. I should’ve seen whether that was cheaper than the drive.

mansfield_trail-landscapeThe trail. Off to the left you can see all the way across Lake Champlain to the Adirondacks in New York and to the right you can see all the way across, er, a state line and see the White Mountains in New Hampshire.

mansfield_alpine-colorsI just liked the colors here.

mansfield_looking-southThe trail is not unpopular — although it was fun to listen to the people who hiked all the way up here gripe about everyone who just drove up.

mansfield_me-at-topI am the highest point in all Vermont. And scowling because of the wind.

The hike over to The Chin was really cool, even if it *was* crowded (it was the first Saturday of fall and everyone knew that Sunday’s weather was going to be awful). $24 is a lot to pay to drive up a silly road, but I still figure it was better than a 2.5-hour walk/climb through a tree prison. Probably. It would’ve killed me to have gone through that and gotten to the top only to be stuck in a mob of tourists. Probably worth it.

bkd

Vermont Is a Well-Kept State (Day 71)

September 27th, 2009 No comments

It’s kind of like Switzerland. Not much is out of place. The campground I stayed at, at Smuggler’s Notch State Park, was the nicest, cleanest campground I’ve ever been to in my life. Plenty of trees separated the campsites, for instance. There were showers and they were immaculate. There was a water feature inside the bathroom. There was a ranger on-site 24 hours a day plus a volunteer host. They sold firewood, kindling, and firestarter. And this post isn’t even about the campground.

Which, it turns out, was sort of the best part of Vermont. Ah well.

The campground was located between the town of Stowe and the Stowe ski slopes. Nice locale.

stowe_churchThe church in Stowe.

And then these waterfalls are across the street (and then a steep half-mile down) from the campground.

stowe_bingham-fallsBingham Falls, named after the copper mine.

Anyway, then I ended up going to this state park where they have an abandoned old town. About a mile into your hike through the old town, however, you begin to realize that there aren’t any building there any more or, like, anything to look at. Little River State Park was the name. Avoid it at all costs. I don’t think these pictures are as boring as actually being there, though:

stowe_little-river-leavesThat’s right, another photo of leaves. How I’ve kept my mind is a wonder.

stowe_graffiti-houseFine, there’s *one* house still standing. For now. And: you mean there’s a *down*-side to eminent domain?!

stowe_little-river-cemeteryThe town’s population was maybe 100 and existed for like 80 years, but somehow managed to maintain three cemeteries. Maybe people just died there a lot.

To be fair, I think the park’s trails were meant more for snowmobilers than normal people. Is that fair? Whatever.

Spent the rest of the day driving around the Stowe area trying to derive meaning — the next day was going to have better weather, so I was waiting for that before going up into the hills mountains. Tried to go to “Texas Falls”, but there was a bridge out at the trailhead. Drove up to Lincoln Gap, but there’s not really anything to *see*, just a road and another trailhead. Went to Shaw’s, which is the east coast’s Albertsons. Bought batteries and brown-and-serve sausage links. Pretty cool. Ate at an expensive Thai restaurant in Stowe. Then went back and luxuriated in the cleanliness (and orderliness!) of the campsite.

bkd

Welcome To Vermont, The Green Mountain State — State #20

September 27th, 2009 No comments

Big number 20. One more state and my roadtrip can legally drink.

welcome_vermontRain has stolen most of my bug-splatters. The Wilmington Notch campground, however, donated some pine needles as replacements. Long may they ride.

Crossing the bridge over Lake Champlain (Lac Champlain), there’s a broken-down fortress that the US built on the lake before realizing that they had chosen a site legally in Canada.

bkd

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