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.
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.
|Minerva Hinchey shelter|
|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.