Saturday, February 26, 2011

Canty Trail

February 26, 2011

Took a snowshoeing trip up Blue Ridge Mountain to assess the condition of the Canty Trail for the GMC.  The weather was partly cloudy with a few flurries. The temps were in the low 20's with a light breeze. A recent storm left about 6" of fresh snow.

This is one of my favorite hikes in Rutland County. Although a scheduled trip up to Killington via Buklin Trail was canceled, I decided to hit up the summit of Blue Ridge Mountain. I have never attempted to snowshoe this trail before so the opportunity was screaming "Climb Me!". I grabbed my Tubbs and headed out.

When I arrived at the trailhead the snow banks from the plows had piled them up to about 3 feet. I strapped on my snowshoes and headed up. Being the sector checker for the Killington section of the GMC for this trail, I thought it would be a good idea to note the conditions. I found that the conditions were great with the exception of 3 blown down trees. Although not the most difficult in the world, Vermont trails are rugged and keeping an eye on foot placement does take away from enjoying the environs. This was not the case. The footing was a lot easier than without snow and I had the opportunity to look around more, and with no leaves in the tree canopy, the distance was there as well.

I passed through the lower evergreens into the Green Mountain Nat. Forest and followed the trail up until I reached the waterfalls. I attempted to traverse down to a good view but one of my trekking poles pierced through the top layers of snow, got seized up on some underlying  rocks and broke. I knew that I wouldn't be able to get to the summit. The previous .2 miles was the start of the steep section and I was relying on my poles just to make forward progress. I know there was no way of getting to the summit with a pole missing. I turned around and headed back down.

It took me an hour and fifteen minutes to get to the falls and thirty five minutes to descend to the trailhead where my ride was waiting. Out and back I covered 3.5 miles and 1200 (est.) feet of elevation



Monday, February 21, 2011

Dog Etiquette on the Trails...

Storm

Ever since before my memories I have always had a dog. To me a dog IS man's best friend. They are loyal, they give comfort, they don't judge and so on. I could spend a day blogging about how great dogs are. I love them. But, they are animals and need to be cared for, watched after and most of all, they need attention. I consider myself a responsible dog owner. I make sure they are healthy and are up to date with inoculations, that they are registered with my city. I obey leash laws, pick up after nature does its job etc. I don't need to ramble on about my dog raising techniques. 

Dogs also make great trail companions but not all people on the trail appreciate dogs. Some folks are just generally afraid of dogs. Some dog owners should not have a dog because of their lack of responsibility or dog raising know how. Some just do not care. I read of stories about horrible incidents on different forums all the time. It's a common problem. My family and I have all experienced a few bad incidents ourselves. Just last month my son was attacked by an unleashed dog while day hiking "Storm", his white shepherd, in a local wooded park that has leash laws. The owner was not able to call off his Great Dane. The trailhead is clearly marked with "Keep your dog leashed" signs in a few areas. A blatant disregard..I have seen dog crap in the middle of the trail many times in my life, on all types of trails be it a deep woods secluded trail to high traffic trails. Leave No Trace principles apply to dogs as well. Do they not? I have had large dogs, although friendly and their owners knew that, charge me not knowing what it's intentions were. If you can't control your dog or your dog behaves poorly, put on a leash or leave it home where its safe. It will save a lot of problems for you, your dog and others.

Here are a few links for proper dog etiquette:

And a recent incident:

Friday, February 18, 2011

Winter Camping: Greenwall Shelter, LT, White Rocks, Vt


This adventure was initially planned for 2 days but was cut short due to sickness.

White Rocks from Ice Bed trail
I hit the trail later than planned, about 3:45 pm. I decided to take Keewaydin Trail; a side trail of the LT/AT system. It's a local trail that leads to the Long Trail then eventually to the overlook at the cliffs of White Rocks Mountain. The weather was overcast with mild temps in the mid 30's. The trail was in great condition, well traveled but still not strong enough to handle the weight of  me and my 35 pound pack without snowshoes. At mile 0.4, I intersected with the Long Trail. The hike was fairly steep and quite slippery in spots. I took my time enjoying the views as I hike up this wonderful mountain. After traveling on the LT for 0.7 miles (1.1 miles hiked) I came to the spur that leads to Greenwall shelter. This spur had not been hiked on and due to the geographical location it had created a lot of snow drifts. This spur also follows Bully Brook which was snow covered except for a few areas. This created voids beneath the drifts. I found myself sinking in certain areas, dropping 4-5 feet unexpectedly. In one area I got stuck in a drift that was well over my head with a pack and snowshoes on. It took me over 5 minutes to get back on top of the snow.  After 30 minutes on this spur and dusk approaching I saw Greenwall overlooking a beautiful valley. 
Greenwall shelter when I arrived

When I got to the shelter it was 5:20 pm, the snow around the shelter was about 3 feet deep, the picnic table was the only thing distinguishable and no sign of a fire pit. I set up camp as it got dark out. The only water source was a mere trickle at the bottom of the 4 foot banks of snow along Bully Brook. I carried in 4 liters of water with me so I had plenty for a day. So I thought. I packed down the snow in front of the shelter to about 1 foot making nice an solid platform to walk on. I opted not to build a camp fire because of no decent fire wood. There had not been any recent wind storms to knock down dead limps since December so most of the wood was buried under the snow. Not worth the trouble. By 7:00 pm, I sat down on the edge of the shelter floor and popped open a Centennial Red and relaxed. The sky had cleared some and the full moon lit up the valley quite brightly. A light breeze passed as I started to get chilled. I was still in just my base-layer. I cooled down a little too much and my hands started to get cold. I put on my fleece, stomped down a small area and lit up a coconut shell briquette on foil for a little heat. To add to the ambiance, I used Coleman fire starters as candles. Against  the backdrop of snow it was warm and very bright.

My makeshift campfire
After I finished the beer I was pretty dehydrated and couldn't get enough water in me. I soon found out that I was going to need water. The brook wasn't really an option but there was plenty of snow around. I broke out the Pocket Rocket and melted snow, enough for a freeze dried dinner, breakfast and to refill my Nalgenes & bladder. By 9:30 pm I was ready for dinner then bed.

From my sleeping bag. 9:30 am.
I slept great until about 5:30 am when I awoke with a scratchy throat and dry cough. My wife had been sick the past few days and it finally hit me. I drank some water and then fell back asleep. I had a dream that I was camping at the shelter but it was more of a cabin when a hiker knocked on the door. I awoke to the sound of a woodpecker on a tree doing his thing. I peeked out and it was so sunny and bright. 9:30 am. I slept later than I really wanted to. I felt tired and feverish. I ate some oatmeal with a coffee, packed up and by 11:00 I was headed out. I debated with myself about continuing south for another half mile or so to reach the overlook at the cliffs. Because I wasn't feeling the greatest, I chose to go north back to where my ride would pick me up.

I couldn't get picked up until 1:30 pm so I took my time back down to the trail head at the picnic area. When I got there it was noon. I still had an hour and a half before my ride arrived so I dropped my pack and went on a small hike on the Ice Bed trail. This is a great day hike with an overlook and a vista within a little over a quarter mile. When I got to the vista, it was sunny and windy but the view was incredible. I spent some time there just being. At 12:50 pm, I headed back down to where my ride was waiting for me.

video 
From White Rocks vista on the Ice Bed trail.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Snowshoeing: Long Trail; Rt 4 to Willard Gap

 February 12, 2011

This trek was hiked entirely in the hard woods along the valley floor between Deer Leap mountain and an unnamed mountain. The skies were overcast and the temps were cold at 20 degrees with a stiff breeze bringing the temps down to single digits....read more here

Friday, February 11, 2011

Snowshoeing: Minerva Hinchey shelter

February 6, 2011

This hike was a scheduled trek by the GMC Killington section.


It amazes me to notice that most GMC hikes in the Killington region don't have many people under the age of 50 attending them. At 44, I find myself usually being one of the youngest to attend their outings. A definite generation gap. Regardless of the age gap, GMC outings are great. This is one of them.

Minerva Hinchey shelter is located at mile 1673 of the Appalachian trail between rt 103 in Clarendon and rt 140 in Wallingford. The route we took was from Spring Lake Ranch in Cuttinsville.

The hike started out easy following a nice snow covered meadow. Soon we entered the hardwoods and the old wood road we were on slightly ascended for about a half a mile to the shelter. A few stayed back to build a fire while others continued on towards Patch Hollow. The trail was prepacked so the trek was quite easy. Once at the intersection of the LT/AT system and the local SLR trails we looped around onto a section of trail with untouched powder. This made it a little more challenging. Although prepacked snow is easier, I love new snow. We hiked for a little over a mile when we were back at the shelter.

Once we arrived back at the shelter, a fire was waiting for us to roast some hot dogs. We discussed the future of the GMC as well as the past. Among the attendees was the current secretary and treasurer for the Killington section, John Hale, former treasurer Roma Pulling, her son, my boy scout leader, Steve Pulling and Jerry Parker, volunteer of the year. It was great to listen to the stories and notice the dedication that these folks have given throughout the years. Roma is 84 years old and has dedicated many hours to the GMC.

Although we didn't break any records for mileage, overall it was a great day. Total we hiked a little over 2 miles with an elevation gain less than 250 feet. 12 GMC members attended. The Day Hiking in Rutland County facebook group had 2 members attend as well