Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Pico Mountain

July 9, 2011

This is a hike that I have been meaning to do for awhile now. My friend Kathi willingly went with me on this. This was her 3rd time up on this wonderful summit in the past month. The weather was warm and sunny with a nice breeze turning to partly cloudy at times. Pico Peak is the northernmost summit in the Coolidge mountain range and is 7th highest mountain in Vermont with an elevation of 3957 feet. It registers as peak number 71 on the New England 100 Highest list. Pico is also a ski area that is part of Killington Resort.

From Little Pico
We chose to take the Sherburne Pass trail up to Pico Camp and then take Pico Link up to the summit. The trail starts out as a steady climb with decent terrain meandering south along the west side of Pico through classic Vermont hardwoods. Once being part of the LT/AT system before the trail was moved to the east side of Pico it can only be described as part of the notorious "Green tunnel" that the AT is known for. Within a half an hour we took a side spur that leads to the top of  "Little Pico" where the summer staff was setting up the Alpine slide for the day. 

From Little Pico looking west

After a short break we continued ascending through the dense woodland towards Pico Camp taking a short break at some neat sink holes that the trail passes alongside. As the trail continues up it leaves the woods for a few hundred yards as it climbs "Summit Glades" ski trail and re-enters the woods. 

Deer Leap from Summit Glades

This is where the terrain changes as well as the scenery. In the Hemlocks with roots and rocks as the trail levels out some. Within 25 minutes we were at Pico Camp where the Pico Link trail leads to the summit.

Pico Camp

We took another short break here before climbing Pico Link. We knew we would need a calorie intake before the last 0.4 miles to the summit. Pico Link is considered a difficult trail that comprises of large rocks and small boulders held together by Hemlock roots as is steeply leads to the summit. Before too long we were on the top on "Forty Niner" ski trail with just a few hundred yards to go. 

Pico Peak 3957'
To the west

After taking a short break and devouring a sleeve of Nutter Butters, we explored the summit some enjoying our surrounds. The communication towers were humming away as red clover, the Vermont state flower swayed in the breeze. We were fortunate to meet this couple who had bagged Mendon peak a few hours earlier and were bagging Pico while we were there. They had only 2 more peaks in Vermont to complete their High Peaks of the Northeast list. 

We had cell service

Red Clover
Although it was beautiful and a great place just to hang out, the clock was ticking away and we needed to head back. The hike down was great too...well with the exception of going down Pico Link (I prefer the ups over the downs). I'm glad it's short.

Kathi going down Pick Link
The rest of the hike went quickly passing a few day hikers along the way. When we got to the sink hole we came across a gentleman who was carrying a hoe clearing out waterbars along the way. It's great to see others working on the trail. After a nice chat with him as we continued to the parking lot we parted ways. Great guy.

It was another great day hike in beautiful Vermont trekking 5.8 miles and gaining 1807 feet of elevation. Only 94 peaks left! 


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