Wednesday, June 22, 2011

An Early Morning Day Hike

June 22, 2011

This was a spur of the moment hike planned by my hiking friend Deb.

Joe, Deb and Kathi
4:30am came quickly when my alarm rudely awoke me. Deb had gotten in touch with me and Kathi 12 hours early to see if we would take a short and easy hike first thing. She asked if I may have known of a trail that would be a good workout but short enough to be out of the woods by 10am. The Long Trail has many road crossings and since Kathi and Deb both had never been to Airport Lookout, I thought a quick jaunt to Minerva Hinchey shelter would be a great way to start the day. At 5:20 we were on the road to the Clarendon Gorge trail parking area to start our morning. By the time we resolved water bladder leakage problems, discussed Deb new shoes and checked out Kathi's Kelty day pack that she didn't care for (nor used) it was 6:10. The temps were nice and cool in the mid 60's with partly sunny skies. Beneath the bulletin board at the trailhead were bags of garbage less than 30 inches away from a "No Garbage Service" sign. I tend to obsess over breaking rules like this. It really irks me to see such a blatant disregard for this wonderful trail. As soon as we crossed the suspension bridge we noticed that, although illegal, people still insist on camping in this area. The garbage, broken glass, the impact on the area and the cutting and stripping of wood for fires is the reason why. Okay, enough complaints. We headed up the hill some and after crossing a wood road we noticed a tree down...then another...then another all in this 100 yard cleared area.

The previous Saturday there were a few storms in the area. We believe a small tornado may have touched down. I took note of the area and what needed to be done so the GMC can coordinate a work party to clean up the trail. Soon after we were at Airport Lookout and we took a short much needed break when we were visited by a beautiful scarlet tanager that unfortunately wouldn't let us take his picture. We also looked around for this red, ruby-like vein that is rumored to be embedded in the exposed quartz. When the light hits it at the right moment it glows deep hues of red. After a year of looking for it, it still hasn't been seen by my eyes ... maybe next time?

Treebeard and Stormsong
Onward we trekked on top of this pleasant ridge towards the shelter. Surprisingly, the bugs were not bad at all despite the numerous vernal pools. We passed one northbound backpacker along the way. Before too long, we noticed the shelter through the dense vegetation. It was around 8:00am and the place was waking up. Appalachian Trail thru-hikers were breaking camp to start today's 16 mile journey. Most of what be through the rain. Two of them, Stormsong and Treebeard seemed glad to spare a minute of time to tell us of their so far four month adventure. There were 6 of them in separate groups that started at Springer Mountain in Georgia about the same time and have been with each other since. I gladly took any garbage they needed to get rid of and offered them what power bars I had with me. "We've learned to never refuse food" Stormsong stated as he gratefully accepted.

We headed back towards Rt 103 enjoying our morning along the way stopping once again at Airport Lookout when 3 more of the 6 thru-hikers passed by. I once again offered to take any trash that they had with them. We talked with them for a few minutes learning of their trip. The older gentleman of the group had gladly lost 50 pounds so far during his travels. Great way to loose weight. We parted ways as they quickly scurried down the trail. We followed behind them at a slower pace back to the trailhead.

From Airport Lookout


Another great day in Vermont. We hiked 5.4 miles and gained 900 feet of elevation. We intend on doing more early morning hikes like this in the future.


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