Monday, March 28, 2011

Grandpa's Knob, Hubbardton, Vt

March 27, 2011

This hike was a scheduled hike with GMC Killington section and DHRC. The weather was clear and sunny with temps around 30 degrees. A light breeze came from the northwest.

I have been eager to do this hike for many years. Without a known route or I should say, a route that is private and posted, has kept me from hiking this mountain. Like many folks in this area, I had the wrong mountain in mind. What is assumed to be Grandpa's Knob is actually Mt Hadley. Grandpas Knob lies 2.6 miles north-northwest of Hadley. Because both mountains offer hang gliding and Hadley hang gliders are seen more often, it is often assumed that Hadley is Grandpa's Knob. Our hike leader, Tom Copps from the GMC, gladly explained the geographical area.

View Mt Hadley in a larger map
Map of the difference between Mt Hadley (blue) and Grandpa's Knob(red)

This hike started out by traveling an access road to the summit crossing a meadow soon entering a hardwood forest.  The ascent was steady but not too steep. Although there was some snow, it was not deep enough for snowshoes. At approximately 1 mile in, the road switchbacks and becomes a  steeper yet gradual ascent which soon leads to the summit. Once at the summit, we took a break and enjoyed the impressive 330 degree views of the Green Mountain, Taconic and Adirondack mountain ranges. Lake Bomoseen, although still frozen, was well in sight. To the south Stratton Mountain, Vt ski area could be easily seen and to the west Whiteface, Ny ski area stood high above it's neighbors. The descent down followed the same route with the exception of a side spur that lead to a few glacier strewn rocks known as "Silly Rocks"  Total distance hiked was approximately 3 miles with an elevation gain of  right around 1000 feet. 16 people attended this hike, most GMC members with 4 members of DHRC Facebook group.

View grandpa's knob in a larger map

Sunday, March 20, 2011

"Super Moon" hike, Deer Leap

On March 19, 2011 at precisely 3pm eastern daylight savings time, the Moon was the closest it has been to the Earth in 18 years. What a perfect opportunity to do a night hike. Initially, this trip was planned to hike the Long Trail north through Willard Gap and over Deer Leap Mountain to the lookout but was decided by those who attended to hike up via the Sherburne Pass trail. (read more here)

Saturday, March 19, 2011

St. Patrick's Day : Camping

March 17-18, 2011

My good friend Bill has a small (12 acres) chunk of land with a private camp site on it. Well, it usually is not a camp site. It's a large fire pit tucked away against the back corner of his property in the pines by a nice brook. Used for social gatherings, cookouts etc. I am the only one who camps here. There is a drive that leads to the area making it convenient to bring along the luxuries that I would never even think of bringing when I'm out in nature. Like a cooler, Dutch oven, real food to cook in it, beer, a guitar. This particular trip there was no need for a cooler due to the snow and it was too wet and cold to bring out my guitar.

View Camp in a larger map

When I got to Bill's, first thing I noticed was that I wouldn't be able to drive up to the cozy niche. There was still 15 inches of snow;  loose granular, so I used his home made pulk sled. Basically, a squared frame with half of a 50 gallon plastic drum all placed on an old pair of Rossignol skis. It worked great. I loaded up the sled with my gear, strapped on the Tubbs and headed up. The weather was in the low 50's and sunny. In a t-shirt, it felt great to feel the first rays of the year.

When I arrived at camp, the shade of the evergreens and being in a small valley didn't melt as much snow so I had to shovel some. I packed down most of the area with my snowshoes. I set up camp, started a fire, chilled the Smithwick's in the snow. I even set up my cheap Walmart one man tent. I paid $12 for this tent 3 years ago and in the right weather, it's perfect. I usually don't tent camp. This was the first trip that I have done in a tent with snow since my Boy Scout days. Bill was generous enough to let me use his cut & split firewood as needed but it was stacked by his house. I spent the rest of the afternoon lugging wood in his sled. This thing was a true help. By 4:00pm I was ready to start my corned beef & cabbage. It was St Patty's Day after all. It cooked in my Dutch oven in a bath of Irish ale.

The rest of the day and evening went great with Bill and his son came up to visit.We sat around the fire enjoying our ales, telling stories and having a good time. By 10:00pm dinner was ready. After a good feast, it was time for bed. As usual, when in the woods, I slept great.

When I woke it was 9:30ish or so. When I got up it was another gorgeous day. The chickadees were singing their "fee bee" song,  the chipmunks were scurrying about and to my surprise I had a visitor in the night at some point; a whitetail deer had left his business with 15 feet of my tent.

Unfortunately, by 11:00am it was time to break camp. I took down my tent, rolled it up and packed it in the sled. When I turned around, I watched my groundcloth get picked up by a breeze and take a trip down the brook. Goodbye tarp.

Overall, it was a great time. It's nice to just camp with a few comfort items every now & then. It's a great place to be while I'm waiting for the trails to dry up some.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Mud Season

Although the snow is still fairly deep but steadily melting away, it soon will be mud season in Vermont. The down time as far as hiking or backpacking goes. As a trail maintenance volunteer, I understand the importance of patiently waiting for the trails to dry out some before trudging on them. Some trails are closed by the State of Vermont.
Spring is also a time when people can not resist getting out due to the nice weather. The Green Mountain Club has set certain guidelines for mud season.

  • Walk through the mud, not around it! If a trail is so muddy that you need to walk on the vegetation beside it, turn back, and seek an alternative area to hike.
  • Hike in the lower-elevation hardwood forest (unless it is muddy!) with southern exposure (south facing slopes dry out first in Spring).
  • Avoid the spruce-fir (conifer) forests at higher elevations.
  • The State of Vermont closes all trails on state land including those on Camel's Hump and Mount Mansfield from mid-April until Memorial Day weekend. Please do not hike in these fragile areas.
    • Also avoid: Stratton Mountain, Killington Peak, Lincoln Ridge (Mount Ellen to Appalachian Gap), Jay Peak.