Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Canty Trail

May 27, 2011

Andrea at White Rocks
This was another spur of the moment hike.

I met Andrea, a new found hiking friend, through my day hiking group. She is traveling nurse who happens to be working in Vermont for a few months. Her schedule fluctuates and she works every other weekend so most of her hikes are during the week. She had asked me if I was up to hiking on this day and I recommended a more aggressive hike in the area... Once agreed upon, the Canty Trail came to mind. I love this trail and I was eager to show the active Minnesotan a wonderful piece of Vermont. 

The weather was great on this hike, starting out partly cloudy but soon turned sunny and fairly hot. Chances of thunderstorms were in the area. This hike starts out fairly easy meandering through an evergreen forest crossing a few streams along the way. The black flies were in full force. I brought along some drier sheets to see how they worked against them and, well, they surprisingly seemed to work some. 30% DEET did the rest for the most part. The trail was is really good shape despite the recent rains. After a steep ascent towards the falls we stopped to take a short break and enjoy the waterfalls. They rest of the way up was a little easier, although still rough terrain, entering the upper hemlock forest which floor is lined with Princess Pine moss...so lush and green. We soon were at the summit where we took another break. We talked about hiking on our break and she had told me stories of her treks around the country. I envy her traveling lifestyle to some extent. To visit some of the best trails and mountain tops in the country. The trek down was very fast but the black flies seemed to have doubled in force since our trek up.Overall, it was another great day hiking in Vermont.

I wish Andrea well on her next assignment and I truly hope that she finds a hiking network like the one she has found here in Vermont.  She is a passionate hiker with an excellent pace and seems to always be looking for something to do in the great outdoors.

Chaffee Falls, Silver Lake

May 25, 2011

(L-R)  Joe, Deb, Kathi, Andrea
It's no secret that I started a day hiking group on Facebook. I started it after a hike when a friend of a friend of a friend got together and trekked it. Networking. Good way to meet people with like interests. In just a mere 10 months, the group has acquired over 110 members and approximately 22% have gone on scheduled hikes. Kathi, one of the groups most active members, has helped tremendously by getting people to join but not just that...the new folks that have joined via Kathi have boosted the stats. They hike....

On a recent scheduled day hike to the Pittsford Ice Caves, Kathi introduced me to two new  members, Deb and Andrea. After our hike, I was asked if I do any mid week hikes.... well of course I do. Now on to the actual blog of this trip

I received a text the night before this hike from Deb asking about a trek that was short in time because she had to be back in town by a certain time so I thought Hitchcock Trails or Chaffee Falls would be a great place to check out. The trail is short, has a wonderful brook that it follows with a nice small set of falls. She arranged it with Kathi and Andrea as well. We hit the trail a little past noon, the weather was sunny and warm. The trail loops around a nice evergreen forest which soon brings you to Furnace Brook. After a very short trek to the falls we stopped, took our shoes off and enjoyed this beautiful waterway. We sat around for about 20 minutes and talked some. Andrea, a transient in Vt, had heard of The Falls of Lana and asked if we could plan a day there. Deb made some arrangements to cancel her time schedule and asked if we wanted to go then to the Falls. We were all in agreement. We headed back to the car and drove north to Lake Dunmore.

When we arrived at the parking lot, swarms of black flies & mosquitoes attacked us...well most of us. Deb had a drier sheet which seemed to work some for the black flies. We headed over to the base of the falls and followed the pipeline up to Silver Lake access road and continued it up to the lake stopping along the way to get different views of the falls. We hung out on the beach for some time when I went to grab a snack and found my DEET which I thought was in a different pack. After a good break we decided to head back down the mountain with intentions of stopping a a beautiful overlook of Lake Dunmore, the Adirodacks, the Taconics and a few of the local mountains like Farr Peak and Bloodroot Mountain. We did take a wrong turn and ended up following the pipeline to a water tower. Because we were off the correct path we then bushwhacked it to the overlook. After a nice rest taking in the views and the sun we headed back down to the trailhead....

Another great day in Vermont....

Pine Hill Park with Zane

May 22, 2011

Getting ready to leave
This was a spur of the moment hike with Kathi, an active member of my day hiking group, and Zane, my grandson. 

On June 16, 2010, my daughter gave birth to a beautiful baby boy... Zane Michael. What a great addition to my family. Zane doesn't know it yet but his grandfather intends on bringing him up in nature. I intend to show him everything that I have learned like  my grandfather taught me.  To respect nature... to enjoy her beauty and to appreciate the natural surrounds.

At Tim's Vista
This short day hike was Zane's first out with me this year. We walked through the middle loops to the upper trails winding around to Tim's Vista where we were bombarded with mosquitoes thus cutting the trip short. My daughter is leery about using bug spay on him before the age of 1 and I agree. Because he is such a good baby, not once did he show signs that he was being bitten. I never noticed any bites on him but I knew I was being attacked. Would baby bug spray work anyway? I don't know. It seems to me that DEET is really the only stuff that works and some reviews shun the baby bug repellent which most brands are merely citronella oil. 

I look forward to showing Zane the ins and out of hiking and backpacking as he grows. It will be our thing. I intend on bringing him on backpacking trips as he carries his own pack. I will show him how to read a map and more importantly, how to use a compass with it. I will show him survival skills; fire, water, shelter and food. First aid will also be a must. With his birthday arriving shortly I decided to buy him his first pair of Merrells. He's just now starting to walk. I plan on giving him a new pair each year for his birthday.
Baby Merrells

I look forward to my life out of doors with Zane. Hopefully he will take an interest and continue on as great outdoorsman long after I return to the Earth... I shall call him my Padiwan.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

A couple of giveaways

Due to being out and hiking daily, I haven't been able to blog as much. I am 5 adventures behind and I still do not have time to catch up. I am headed out in a few minutes to backpack for three days and will have to catch up next week.  I do, however, know of a few contests that I am very interested in and thought I would announce them.

Ok the first one is hosted by Tim & Robin, the authors of Appalachia & Beyond. Its the chance to win an original gorgeous poster size print of the constellation Orion taken by Random Joy Fine Arts and Photography.  This contest ends on Sunday , May 29 so be quick on this one. For more information on this giveaway and how to enter please go to Appalachia & Beyond.

The next giveaway is hosted by Karl, the author of Live Free and Hike New Hampshire. He is giving away an autographed copy of Haunted Hikes of New Hampshire written by Marianne O'Connor. I have eyed this book for awhile now and am just itching to win this one. Here is a quick review for the book: "...a fascinating blend of famous New Hampshire moments and personally recommended hiking trails. In both the literary world and the outdoor world of hiking and conservation, her star is in the ascendancy." --Floyd W. Ramsey, author of Shrouded Memories. For more information on this giveaway  and how to enter please go to Live Free and Hike New Hampshire  This contest ends on Tuesday, May 31.   

Good luck! Now off to the woods for the weekend. Enjoy yours. 

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

In 100 Days

May 24, 2011

I was born and raised in Vermont. It is my home. I can not recall the first time that I camped, hiked or fished because I was a tot...simply just too little to remember. Though I do  recall tent camping  with my parents when I was around 5 or so but I was already conditioned to it. Stubbed toes, scrapped knees and all. I joined the Boy Scouts of America at age 8 via the Cub Scouts; went through my Webelos and soon became an official Boy Scout. At the time, I remember this being quite an achievement. I was a proud Scout. I was eager to learn and apply anything outdoorsy. The troop I was in, Vt BSA Troop105, was a very active troop that held weekly meetings (the troop still  meets at the same room in the same church at the same time every week )  and weekly or so. usually on the weekends, an outing ... be it hiking, camping, Jamborees, despite the season. At age 14, I did my first primitive camping trip in the winter with this troop. We stayed in pine bough shelters that we built. My first true awareness for love of the outdoors. I remember a specific time when we helped out the Green Mountain Club build/move a section of the Long Trail and that's when I fell in love with it.... I asked everyone and anyone on that one day about the Long Trail.... and since then it has become my life's dream to thru-hike it.  

After 30 years, and in just 100 days, on September 1, 2011 at 8:00am EDT, I will take my first step onto what was a but dream and now a reality... To walk the spine of the Green Mountains of Vermont in it's entirety. All 273+ miles... This is my homeland, my life's obsession. The countdown has begun to the adventure and dream of my lifetime.... 

Monday, May 23, 2011

Canty Trail

May 20, 2011

I took a trip up the Canty trail to assess the current conditions and do any minor maintenance. The last time I was on this trail was in early April and there was still two and a half feet of snow. I brought along a young hiking enthusiast who wanted to learn a little bit about trail maintenance. The weather was overcast, misty, rainy at times, sunny at times, foggy at times; a whole array of weather. Temps were in the lower 70's.

I love this trail. I was giddy when the Trails & Shelters coordinator for the Killington section of the GMC offered to assign me as sector checker for this trail. The trail contains a diverse collection of classic Vermont terrain. It starts out as a gentle walk through a lower evergreen forest following along a small brook. It then crosses through a wet land with some stream crossings. As it follows a beautiful cascading brook up through mixed hardwood valley the trail gets impressively steep and rocky. Conveniently, the brook comes to a wonderful waterfall which is a great spot to take a well deserved break. The trail continues ascending steeply up the rocky trail until it turns west. From here the terrain once gain changes. Roots & rocks the rest of the way up to the summit which offers some impressive views.

On this particular trip,we did a little bit of trail maintenance. We cleared away 4 trees that blocked the trail and cleared out some waterways taking our time as I explained some basics of trail maintenance. The spring flowers were out in full bloom so I payed some attention at what I was looking at. Flora is something that I haven't really gotten into until recently and I'm now constantly trying to identify anything that grows in my neck of the woods. Overall it was a great day hiking 4.8 miles with 1600 feet of elevation.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Minerva Hinchey Shelter

May 18-19 2011

Trail access at Clarendon Gorge
I recently came back into contact with a young man who I have known for about 5 years. Zach. A good kid who enjoys hiking and backpacking. Although some of his friends join him from time to time he is usually a loner when it comes to hiking due to the fact that his peers are into other things that 21 year old folk do. Hiking and backpacking is a lifestyle not meant for everyone. It's in Zach's soul though. I have hiked some with him since he was 17. He has a great pace, doesn't complain or ask if we are there yet, he's inquisitive about certain gear, techniques, little tips and tricks and our conversations revolve solely around hiking. We lost contact for about a year and a half. After reconnecting on Facebook, within an hour of exchanging emails we planned an overnight trip at Minerva Hinchey shelter on the Long Trail/AT for the next day.

At Airport Lookout

 We hit the trail at Clarendon Gorge at 11:45am. The weather was cloudy with some small rain showers. The trail was in great condition and surprisingly quite dry. The trek started out fairly steep as the trail approaches Airport Lookout where we took a short break then basically follows the ridge up and over to the shelter.It was not a long trek by far. 2.7 miles in with an elevation gain of about 700 feet. When we arrived at the shelter there was a light rain so we dropped packs and had a late lunch.

Minerva Hinchey shelter
We read through the shelter register and it seems the hiking season has started for some LT thru-hikers. Once the rain stopped we went out and collected some wood for a fire. After the wood was cut up and a good fire was established then we talked shop. Hiking. Backpacking. Gear. And most importantly, Zach joining me on my September LT thru-hike. Before we knew it the twilight of dusk was upon us so we took a stroll down to the meadows and listened to the peepers in the ponds. They were quite loud actually. After it got dark we headed back up to the shelter and continued talking about trekking. Who would think that you could hold a conversation for hours based simply on putting one foot in front of the other. After a Mountain House dinner, we crashed.
The meadows at dusk

I slept great until 5:00am when I awoke to a tremendous downpour on the steel roof. It didn't last long. I have always slept better in nature than I do at home and I soon fell back asleep. I woke up a little after 9:00am. Zach woke before me. The sun was shining brightly and the air was a little cool but still full of humidity from the nights rain. We ate a quick breakfast, packed up, swept the shelter and clean out the fire ring. By 10:30am we were northbound back to our ride.

Porcupine climbing the tree
The hike back was great. Nice and sunny with a light breeze. It was warm but a little humid. The  black flies were dense though. The brightness of the new spring flora was amazing. Trillium, Trout Lily and Columbine were in full bloom. We came upon a porcupine who obviously saw us too as he scurried up a tree and stared us down as we passed. After a nice stroll down the hill we finally arrived at the parking lot where our ride was waiting. Another great adventure in Vermont.

Clarendon Gorge

Monday, May 16, 2011

Ice Bed Trail, White Rocks, Clarendon Gorge

May 10,2011

This hike was planned on the spur of a moment. During a recent hike to the Ice Caves in Pittsford I had met a couple of people through networking within my hiking group. They had asked about mid week hiking. I was game.

We choose the Ice Bed Trail that faces White Rocks cliff face in Wallingford, Vt. It's short, offers some really great views and has some steepness with roots & rocks. My kind of trail. The weather was warm in the upper 60's with partly cloudy skies.

The trek starts out with a decent cardio workout. A quarter mile of fairly steep switchbacks that lead to the first vista. This offers views of the cliff face and the valley in the northeast. From here the trail continues on to another vista. This offers views to the south and west as well as the cliff face. From here the trail descends steadily to the base of the rock slide where massive boulders rest. The breeze coming out of the base was quite cold. We then decided to climb the boulders up part of the way. We took a quick break by an old hemlock when Andrea noticed a porcupine climbing up the tree. It's always a joy to observe an animal although he was scared.We then headed back down the rock slide, up the trail and back down the switchbacks to the car. We still had some time to explore so we drove up to Clarendon Gorge a.k.a Swinging Bridge. I was the only one who had been here before and Deb & Andrea wanted to check it out. This is a great rocky place to just hang out for a few minutes. The water was fairly high but not too extreme. Still too cold to swim in.

Monday, May 9, 2011

A review: Outdoor Basecamp

OBC in the woods of Vt
This is a first for me. To write a review/recommendation. My blog is aptly subtitled "Stories of outdoors Vermont" in which my blog usually consist of just that. My stories of my adventures in Vermont. There are many review and recommendation bloggers out there so I try not to stray from simply telling my story. This is an exception. 

Founded in January of 2009, Outdoor Basecamp is a website that caters to pretty much anything out of doors. It offers simple recommendations and advise on all sorts of out doors topics. To include: Boating, camping, fishing, hunting, trekking, park systems and riding. Each category is broken down even further into sub categories. For example; the fishing category has two sub-menus appropriately name fresh water and salt water. There is a lot of great information on this site. 

If the main site doesn't have what your looking for, one can rely 100% on the jewel of the site; the forums. These forums have a wide range of topics that is community driven. Currently, the active members are a great bunch of folks that have so much experience and wisdom with the willingness to share. They come from all walks of life and vary in age from late teen to 70's. Men and women alike. A very diverse bunch to say the least. There are technical folk, there are comical folk, there are folk that are witty, none who won't steer you wrong. Especially to a newcomer into whatever outdoor activity that they may inquire about. Got a question? Post it. Within a day or two more than likely you will have your answer. There is also areas that let you share trip reports, tell outdoor related stories, a place to share recipes and after becoming a member and accumulating 5 posts or more, downloads of a vast variety of e-books are available. One can create a profile in which you can add friends, post pictures and messaging is available. There is an area to blog as well.  Currently there is close to 2600 members in this community.

To join OBC, simply register and start posting. Here are some links to OBC:

There ya have it. Outdoor Basecamp... I highly recommend this site.

Pittsford Ice Cave

May 8, 2011

This hike was scheduled through my Facebook hiking group. I have been to this cave numerous times in the past and had a group of folks that were curious to explore this short but rewarding hike.

This hike starts out as a fairly steady and mildly steep ascent through a mixed wood forest. The trail was fairly dry with the exception of the known year-round wet areas in which were wetter than usual. It was a long winter in Vermont. There were a few trees down blocking the trail. After the trail levels out and approaching a small lea with a view to the west the trail continues on to a small quarry at the base of a boulder filled ravine. A couple of male mallards greeted us. The trail then turns from a classic wooded trail into an ascent up through a dark, cold ravine, scrambling fern covered boulders along the way. Massive cliff walls on both sides guides the trail through onward to the cave system. Soon we were at the cave entrance. Read more here...

Friday, May 6, 2011

A Rainy Day: Part Two

May 4 & 5, 2011

This adventure was to intentionally backpack in the rain. With a different mental approach towards rain, I found that if I accept it as it is, a part of nature, that it's not so bad. I actually found the forest to be a different place.  A beautiful eerieness...so full of natural life. I'm not talking about birds chirping away or jumping a deer or even impressive unlimited views. I'm talking about the rich dense fog that was my backdrop hindering my views...the sound of the rain hitting the forest floor...the glistening of water droplets on the new Spring flora...the little streams and brooks that swell, intensifying the overall ambiance.

I decided at the last minute on where I wanted to go. With a Presidential Traverse planned for June, I thought that a trip to Clarendon shelter would be my best workout. I hit the trail at about 3:30pm. It was raining steadily but no significant wind. I crossed a nice pasture which held some water but soon I was in a short woodland. The trail was in good shape, the waterbars were fairly clear and doing there job. Thanks GMC Killington! After crossing a powerline and re entering the forest, the trail starts to ascend to the base of a boulder filled ravine. Probably the closest place around here (at this altitude; remember, it is mud season and the upper trails are off limits. Killington Spur is pretty intense) that has some rock scrambling. It took me about 30 minutes to get to the top of the ravine. I took my time going up stopping to check out the Trilliums and the underground brook that flows underfoot (the above video). Once on top, I was already half way to the shelter and I had plenty of time to trek back down and climb it again. So I did. I want to be in shape so the Presi-Traverse will be more enjoyable instead of gruesomely brutal. I took a short break at Clarendon lookout before I continued on. The rest of the hike was fairly easy, traveling through the hardwoods just enjoying my surrounds. The trail was impressively dry with only a few wet areas. Before too long, I reached my destination.
Once at the shelter, I dropped pack, changed shirts, and started to set up camp. I worked on getting a fire started which took me some time due to every piece of wood in the forest was wet. But I paid attention in the boy scouts and have never had trouble getting a fire going. Once established, I kicked back and had a beer. A Long Trail Brew Master Series Coffee Stout. Simply delicious. After a while of just being, I had some dinner; chicken Alfredo. It's rare for me to bring foods that I have to cook but it was well worth it. I'm usually a freeze dried meal culinarian. Once dark, my belly full and the spirit of my beer still hanging on, I decided to go for a short night hike. The rain had subsided some and was more of a mist with some snow flurries. I found an old stone wall and followed it for about a half a mile. It still amazes me that the fact that folks way back when hand built these walls. Back breaking work. Once I got back to camp, It was time to crash. The first night in my new tent and sleeping bag. The sound of light rain quickly slammed me into a deep slumber.

I woke up after a good rest at about 6:00am due to a heavy rain...I lied there just listening to the drops. I was amazed on how dry my tent was; no humidity, completely dry and cozy...the bag was nice and toasty too. I fell back asleep until 9:30am. After I finally woke up, I had a coffee, cooked some breakfast and broke camp. At 11:15am I hit the trail and headed back.

I now have a better understanding of the rain. It's totally different backpacking and staying in it compared to day hiking in jeans and a hoodie while it's raining.

Note: This slide-show is backwards and for some reason is not reversible.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

A Rainy Day: A good day to hike

A pre-trip report (in sorts)

 September will soon be upon us. Yep, September...why would I write a blog about September in May? Let me explain. This coming September, I intend on thru-hiking the Long Trail in it's entirety. 275 miles of glorious Vermont over a 30 day period. This has been a life-long dream and now I am finally in a position to actually make it happen. I never realized that the logistics of planning a thru-hike could be so time consuming, tiring, and at times, frustrating. Strapping on a backpack and placing one foot in front of the other seems to me like it will be the easy part. My brain is actually quite knackered trying not to forget the smallest details.

As I write this blog, it is raining. Not a downpour nor a light mist. Just a steady, cold, damp rain. I hate rain. Don't like it. Never did. I stay out of it as much as possible.Would it ever be possible for an Autumn month in Vermont be precipitation free? I doubt it so I should accept the fact that I will be trudging through the rain at some point during this adventure. I love the snow. Isn't rain just warm snow? I could think of it that way. 

With April being a washout and I didn't get out as much as I wanted to, I figured I ought to start May out right by getting the feet moving. So I thought to myself, "Self, you spend a lot of time trying to plan this hike among others. Why are you avoiding the rain? It's going to happen whether you like it or not. You have the right gear to be in it. Your not going to melt." It all seemed good enough for me to make the decision to plan a quick, spur of the moment over-nighter in the rain. Besides, I just picked up a new tent and sleeping bag that I am itching to check out.

Why did I call this a pre-trip report or why would I even write one? Simple enough. Now I'm obligated to pack up and git....regardless of the rain. Actual trip report to follow in a few days. Happy trails!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

The Days of May

April 9, 2011 Bald Mt Trail
Where did April go? I kick myself in the butt for not getting out as much. With crappy weather and some of life's other commitments the month just flew by. I did less than 10 miles on the trails in 3 trips for the month...May is looking better already.

Itinerary for May:

I would be a hypocrite If I published a blog about mud season and then go out and freely tromp up the trails. I will gladly hit up some of the easier, lower trails and stay off the higher trails. There are a few work parties scheduled on the Long Trail that I would like to volunteer for. It's also time to inspect the Canty trail or at least the lower wet areas that need new puncheons. Since a report is due tomorrow I need to get up there after I publish this. On Memorial Day weekend the state lands open back up and the summer hiking season officially begins. I will backpack section 6 of the Long Trail.