Friday, June 22, 2012

Hello, Summer (Biking and swimming, biking and swimming)

Two of my favorite things go together so nicely: biking and swimming! Nothing like getting hot, sweaty, and dirty, and then to dive into ice cold, crystal clear Vermont water. This is the life!

Part I:Stowe Grand Tour (well, about half of it)
Heading to Pipeline.


Part II: Kimmers / Hardy's, Stowe
The wonderful Jess Graham!
Dive in.

Natural Mystic

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Walking Monroe's Skyline

There are many beautiful places in Vermont, and many of them can be found on Vermont's iconic Long Trail. Sarah and I had the opportunity to see some of these beautiful places when we thru-hiked the LT in 2001.  Since hiking many other places, including  the John Muir Trail in the High Sierra and The Appalachian Trail from GA to Va and then CT to VT, we decided to settle here in Vermont to be closer to the beautiful places we found in Vermont.

One such place that has captured our imaginations is the Monroe Skyline and this is where we found ourselves one recent day. Spanning about 12 miles, the Skyline runs from Lincoln Gap (at Lincoln Gap Road) to Appalachian Gap (at Vermont-17). The Skyline is flanked by Mt. Abe and Mad River Glen as its shoulders, with Mt. Ellen, Nancy Hanks Peak, and Mt. Ira Allen between the two. Once you climb one shoulder, you stay high up on the ride for the majority of your day - a nice place to be, for sure.

With a good hiking friend to leave a car at each gap and an early start, anyone well prepared can accomplish this well-known ridge. Both Mt.Abe and Mad River Glen (to Stark's Nest) are fun hikes on their own, and you will most likely meet many great people on both mountains; but you can find the ridge all to yourself when linking this gap-to-gap hike. On this recent day, we did just that: We met some new friends at Mt. Abe, including a Long Trail thru-hiker, and then found the ridge run all to ourselves.

The first landmark when hiking north from Lincoln Gap is Battell shelter, only 1.8 miles in from Lincoln Gap Road. This is often one of our favorite weekday overnight stays on the LT, where we can pack to leave after work, hike up to Battell and spend the night, then wake early in the morning summit Abe, and descend back to home in time for work!

Often when we get to the top of Abe, when this is our destination, we look to the north and remember that wonderful ridge line: the Monroe Skyline. We are always tempted to keep going. Finally, on this recent day, more than ten years after our thru-hike, we got to keep going North! It's such a great feeling to head out with you backpack, your good shoes, and a day's worth of supplies for a long walk in the mountains.

This trip over Monroe Skyline was originally intended to be a two-day trip, with a quick hike in to spend the night at our favorite Battell shelter, followed by a day of hiking. It's a wonderful feeling to wake up in the woods and know you have a good long walk ahead of you. Alas, this two-day plan was stopped by the weather - a series of particularly strong storms, represented to us as red and purple blotches on the radar headed right for our destination Skyline. We turned around and called off the overnight portion after driving through large hail on the highway! Which was just as good: We made it to a friend's party, slept soundly in our own beds, ate a hearty breakfast, and headed out into a beautiful morning to hike! Our decision was validated when we met a thru-hiker moving south on top of Mt. Abe - he had watched last night from Stark's Nest as a monster thunder cloud seemed barreled down right on the summit. Evidence of this direct hit was littered all over the trail up to Abe in the form of leaves, small branches, and other debris strewn about. I'm sure we would have been fine; we have weathered many severe storms in the woods and mountains. Still, it is one thing to find yourself in a storm on a trip: You hunker down at camp with a good book or game and cook dinner in your vestibule. It's actually quite exciting! But to walk out directly into a storm seemed like a poor decision. And it all worked out - we still got in a great hike! Here are some pictures from our day hike along the Skyline Trail:

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Weekly Peak

We've gotten a couple of great after work hikes in to some of our favorite summits in the past couple of weeks, with plans to hike more next week. What a great way to have dinner with friends: at the top of a mountain! And what a great way to explore and keep adventure in our everyday lives. ILoVermont!

Our recipe for success: Friends, dinner, beers, and an easy-going attitude. The best part about these hikes is we plan to be hiking down in the dark (though that doesn't always happen as our days are getting longer as we approach the solstice), so we bring headlamps. And we bring warm gear - often winter clothing - so that we're prepared to hang out at the top for awhile. And with dinner and drinks in hand, and friends and good views all around, what's there to be in a hurry about? We could stay up there as long as we want! 

The latest hike this past week was White Rock in the Worcester Range. This is a gem because it's a relatively quick up-and-down hike, with the option of a loop connecting it to Hunger Mountain, that affords fabulous nearly-360-degree views from its flanks and spire-y top. The trail is generally easy-going, but with plenty of rocks and short stretches of steep climbs to keep things interesting. Here are some pics from our excellent hike on White Rock:


One of the best parts of this particular night was seeing Venus traverse the sun, thanks to our luck in meeting up with these four wonderful hiking friends (some known, some new):

 Thanks, friends! And Happy Trails! We hope to see you out there soon.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Till next year........

A great time was had by all cheering on the cyclists and runners at this years Onion River Sports Cliff street hill climb. A huge thanks to the Cliff st. neighborhood and surrounding community's for supporting this fun and enthusiastic event.  We couldn't do it with out you! or the brutal yet beautiful Cliff st.

See you this Fall?

or till next year!

El Diablo.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Turtling is Recommended

The view from the fire tower on Spruce Mountain.
 Sometimes you just need to go hiking. And while you're there, I highly recommend spending some leisurely time on the trail. Pack in dinner, bring a tasty beverage, take in the view, or turtle (lounge on a warm rock in the sun). And hikes aren't just for the weekend! Head out after work with friends, get to the top in time for sunset, and bring a headlamp for the twilight hike back down.

This week, we were fortunate to hike two of our local greats: Spruce Mountain and Mt. Abe.

We hiked Spruce Mountain mid-week after we were all finished with work. We packed in dinner, beers, and our headlamps and thoroughly enjoyed the summit and the fire tower at the top. Bringing a headlamp along is always a good idea, no matter what time you start out; however, it is especially recommended for afternoon hikes. The security of knowing your way back down is guaranteed to be well-lit, no matter how long you linger at the summit, is always worth the extra effort and weight to bring your headlamp along. You never know who you will meet or what personal revelations you will have while soaking in the sun from the top of a mountain. Best to be prepared for whatever life brings your way, including fun.

Lauren checks out the fire tower on Spruce.

Another classic hike in our area is the trek up to Mt. Abe, at about 5.2 round trip. But don't let the relatively small mileage fool you - this hike has its share of climbing. Still, the trail is smooth, fun, and totally do-able in an afternoon. This can also be the start to an excellent day of ridge walking by linking Lincoln and Appalachian gaps along the Monroe Skyline. On this day, we took the afternoon to hike after spending the morning getting our yard in order. We packed in a lunch from the Warren General Store and enjoyed a long turtle-session in the sun at the top, watching the rain clouds move in from the Adirondacks.

Heading up the Long Trail.
The view north.
Heading down after some excellent turtling.

So, if you're in need of some hiking - some time in the woods, a good climb, the free feeling of foot travel, and maybe some time well-spent on a sunny warm rock - pack your stuff and head out there. It doesn't matter how far or high you go, just enjoy yourself and bring some friends, dinner, and your headlamp for the way back down.