As the Camel's Hump Challenge approaches, Sarah, Odin and I took the opportunity to climb the Hump and check in on winter as it seems this year it won't show its true face in the valleys below. We decided in the parking lot to hike for the summit and leave the skis behind. Winter hiking was our first passion before we discovered skis and we are always up for a winter hike to a winter summit. This is where we happened to bump into Max as we left the parking lot and he asked if he might tag along and try for the summit, too, as he had just hoped to snowshoe in the lower birch glades being by himself; so of course we obliged.
There are two things Sarah and I love, the mountains and the people we share them with. People and the mountains are what brought Sarah and I to Vermont after our Long Trail thru-hike in '01. The Green Mountains, or any mountains for that matter, hold certain things that keep people coming back and draw new people in and, like I said, has brought us here today.
So off we went as the snow grew deeper and the snow started to fall. Within two hours we reached the clearing before the last 0.2 miles to the summit. This is often where we have our tea and a quick bite before putting on some extra layers to brave the cold wind on top of the Camel. The more you prepare, the longer you can enjoy your short-lived time on top. Tea is another thing Sarah and I enjoy sharing with good folks in the mountains and it was great to share it with Max. I think we also managed to drink the last bit of rum we had in our flask before setting out for the top.
The last 0.2 is always my favorite, especially in the winter, and today was no exception. As you climb the snow-filled chute and climb above tree line, you fully expose yourself to the elements as you reach the summit - 4,088 feet, atop the camel. Smiles and a bit of yelling are usually the protocol at the top and as the wind blows and your hand starts to go numb from taking some snapshots you all quickly realize man was not ideally designed to withstand these kind of conditions; even though you're layered to the gills. We all set off for the descent; it was time to go home.
With the descent comes welcome warmth and you start to think just how brilliant of an idea hot tea is in the mountains. After all Sarah and I always make sure to bring tea for this very purpose. With tea comes warmth but more often than not we bring it for the company because you just never know who you might bump into when walking into the mountains. So the next time you venture into the mountains and bring hot tea, share it with someone - it just might make someone's day and yours as well.
T. and S.