Thursday, June 18, 2015

Hiking Vermont's Long Trail

I'm seeing some hikers planning a Long Trail adventure and decided to go ahead and share this blog back from 2012 when I did my southbound hike of it. I found the End to Ender's Guide and the map sufficed. I did not carry the Long Trail Guide as it only has descriptions for a northbound hike and I was hiking southbound. I also took a GPS device as well that really did come in handy on a few of the situations I found myself in. 

On September 23, 2012, I completed a southward trek of Vermont’s Long Trail. What began back in 2010 with the completion of the trail from Maine Junction (where the Appalachian Trail and Long Trail part) to Rt 2 in Massachusetts, I hiked from the Canadian border to the Maine Junction this fall. 
Looking into Quebec, Canada at the start of the Long Trail
So what is the Long Trail? As taken from the Green Mountain Club's web site – “Built by the Green Mountain Club between 1910 and 1930, the Long Trail is the oldest long-distance trail in the United States. The Long Trail follows the main ridge of the Green Mountains from the Massachusetts-Vermont line to the Canadian border as it crosses Vermont's highest peaks. It was the inspiration for the Appalachian Trail, which coincides with it for one hundred miles in the southern third of the state.

Although the Long Trail is known as Vermont's "footpath in the wilderness," its character may more accurately be described as backcountry. As it winds its way to Canada, the Trail climbs rugged peaks and passes pristine ponds, alpine bogs, hardwood forests and swift streams. The Long Trail is steep in some places, muddy in others, and rugged in most. Novice and expert alike will enjoy the varied terrain of the trail as it passes through the heart of Vermont's backwoods.
With its 273-mile footpath, 175 miles of side trails, and nearly 70 primitive shelters, the Long Trail offers endless hiking opportunities for the day hiker, weekend overnighter, and extended backpacker.”

Some noted observations made while on my hike –

Atop Mt Mansfield looking toward the Adirondoacks of NY and Lake Champlain
Best part of the trail – Except for a bit of a nerve wracking ascent up the chin and then the calamity with my backpack on the forehead, Mt Mansfield was one of the trip's highlights for stunning scenery.

The Presidential Range of NH from the Lincolns
I also liked very much a lone mountain called Laraway Perch. I had a beautiful view of Mansfield that day. The trail also meandered below huge rock formations.

Another favorite was Mt Abraham in the Lincoln region. My last views above tree line as I headed south.
Worse part of the trail – I attempted to climb Camel’s Hump in sixty mile an hour winds and heavy rain. It got so bad that I was obliged to take a side trail to avoid the exposed summit. On a clear day, this would have been a great mountain. But on adverse weather, it made for a treacherous and rather frightening experience.

What I’m glad I took – I accepted a fellow hiker's generous offer to carry his GPS with me. This served me many times when the trail became a bit confusing in ski areas such as Jay Peak (and the trail crosses many ski areas). It also helped me navigate back to the trail when my backpack fell out of the “Needle” portion of the forehead on Mt Mansfield and careened down 100 feet into a ravine. After retrieving my pack, I was able to bushwhack back using the GPS. I'm also glad I did take a 15 degree bag and outerwear for my September travels. Many hikers out there were pretty cold in their 30 plus degree bags in September.

Regrets – I didn’t need the mail drop at all in Jonesville, even though the post office is directly trailside. Between Jeffersonville (which has a nice general store) and Waitsfield, there is good resupply for the northern hiker. I ended up ditching some food at the inn at Waitsfield.

Speaking of which, the B&B's I stayed at (Nyes Green Valley and the Waitsfield Inn) were first class, friendly to hikers, did up laundry for free, and provided shuttles. Great breakfasts too. Worth the hefty price.  

Favorite place to stay on the trail – I had a great time at the ski lift hut on Spruce Peak. And I had wet gear that dried quickly that night inside the hut. The view overlooking Stowe was lovely. Stark’s Nest is another great place to stay, with views from the porch extending toward the Presidential Range of New Hampshire.

The Finish at Maine Junction. I did the southern part on my 2010 hike of the AT southbound

What I Learned – When the going gets rough, listening to the still small voice telling me where to go and what to do (like trying to negotiate the rocky traverse of the Camel's Hump ascent) really saved my hike.   

My Long Trail Journal on Trail Journals.

Other Trails

Foothills Trail
Allegheny Trail


Ann S. said...

Congratulations!!!! Ann Strauss (Mini-Mosey)

Turtle said...

I second the congratulations.

I would love to see your comments on senior hiking. I started last year at age 69 and fell in love with it. The most I've done so far is a 14 mile day hike on the AT in the SNP.

There don't seem to be many hikers around my age as I've only seen 2 on the AT. My doctor says I'm in the top 10% health wise for my age.

I dream of being a 2000 miler on the AT but I wonder if I'm just kidding myself. Ae there many long distance senior hikers out here?

When I search for senior hiking groups, I end up with groups that hike around Richmond on relative flat land.

Thanks for any input.

BTW, I love your blog.

Lauralee Bliss said...

Thanks for reading, Turtle. I have come across several hikers in their "years of wisdom" out there enjoying the trail. Even an eighty plus gentleman was out hiking the AT when I did my SOBO in 2010. You're never too old.