Friday, February 6, 2015

Trudging through Vermont

We have finally completed New Hampshire and have arrived in Vermont!!  Hendo's snowshoeing skills are improving.  We have been able to find Trail Angels in Vermont to stay with for 3-4 days at a time.  Mom drops me/Hendo off at the trail in the morning and heads around to the end-point for the day and if she can park the car, then gets out and hikes in to meet me and then together we hike together back to the car.  Vermont's terrain is much easier/smoother than New Hampshire, but snowshoeing is quite the workout, so I haven't been able to increase my daily miles.  I am averaging 5-7 miles per day, but with having to snowshoe now it feels the same as hiking 10-14 miles.

When we reached Hanover, NH we stopped by the Dartmouth Outing Club and received a copy of the trail angel list and town guide.  We spent 2 days with Greg, who my trail sister Sky Chicken also stayed with when she hiked through, and 4 nights with Betsy & Bill.  Betsy is the amazing lady who started and organizes the Trail Angel program in Hanover, NH and Norwich, VT.

We Hiked from Norwich, VT to Pomfret Rd Vermont while staying with Greg and Betsy & Bill.

This is a typical Vermont country road which are the most common places Hendo's Mom drops off and picks us Hendo at.  Even though they are country roads the towns do a great job of keeping them cleaned and drivable.

Hendo's Shadow was crazy enough to follow her to Vermont.

Cossingham Rd to West Hartford, VT
We couldn't be doing what we are doing if it weren't for amazing trail angels.  Mom had fun making a snow angel.  You can never have too many angels!!

Butt blazing is what we call this.  Sometimes it is easier and safer to just sit down and enjoy the ride downhill.

Hendo snowshoeing along.

The support you find for AT hikers in Vermont has really been amazing.  Here a nice person has put up a sign along the trail route, offering a place to pitch your tent and get water, as well as the mile marker.

West Hartford to Cloudland Rd.

The word on the trail is that the Dartmouth Oouting Club is great at trimming and maintaining the trail, but you will be lucky to find blazes along the way...well let me tell you, the word on the trail is absolutely correct.  The Darmouth Outing Club (DOC) does a great job maintaining their part of the AT, however, when it comes to painting the 2x6 in blazes on trees to mark the trail...they struggle.  The blazes which are on the trail are very faded, and not just from one season, they haven't been repainted in years.  Now blazes may not be that big of a deal when the trail is greened in and the trail is worn in, but in the snow they are very important.  And in DOC's area they just don't exist.  It isn't because it is wintertime either, because as soon as I crossed into the Green Mountain Club's area blazes were everywhere and easy to see, because they have obviously been repainted.

I had a serious situation arise when the blazes suddenly quit while I was hiking over Thistle Hill.  I spent 30 minutes trying to find the trail and a blaze with no luck.  So I pulled out my trusty map and found/followed a snowmobile trail down to the road that mom was meeting me at.  I just came out on the road 3/4 mile from where I was supposed to.  I was not a happy camper.  I continued to have trouble finding blazes in DOC's area all the way to VT 12.    

Yes, winter hiking is a bit chilly at time, but the sun rising, poking it way through the trees, glistening across the snow is beautiful.

A sunny morning in Vermont!!

A great bench at a great overlook.  of course I stopped for a minute, one never passes up an opportunity to have a seat along the trail.

Down in NC and TN, when you see plastic tubing running through the woods one usually steers clear as it is likely a water line for a still.  When I first came across this plastic tubing running through the woods my first thought was, "Wow, they have moonshine stills in Vermont?"  And then I looked closer and saw that the tubing was attached to/coming out of the trees.  The aren't water lines, they are Maple sap collection lines.  "Vermont Moonshine"!!

Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints...or in my case now, snowshoe trails.

Cloudland Rd. to Pomfret Rd.
A beautiful view once I got up top.  It was overcast, but the sun was trying to push its way through off on the horizon.

A dreary, yet still enchanting snowy morning on the top of a small mountain.

More Maple Sap collection line.

This is one of my favorite pictures and vistas so far.  A blue hued morning with everything covered in snow and a mighty white blaze beckoning me onward.

I wore out my pants so we went by Eastern Mountain Sports (EMS) and LL Bean in W. Lebanon, NH to find me a new pair.  While shopping in EMS I met Stumbles, a girl who flip-flop thru-hiked the AT this past year; I remember reading her log book entries along the way.  Stumbles offered us a place to stay at her place if needed along the way.  We had a place to stay with one of my CVMA brothers and then Trail Angel Dan, so I filed Stumble away as a back up.

Papa Smurf, CVMA brother, and his wife Janice were amazing house guests.  We enjoyed the warm place to stay and wonderful comradere.

Pomfret Rd to VT Highway 12
My fellow hikers who hiked this past year in 2014 all complained about the mud in Vermont.  Well needless to say, I haven't found any mud and was wondering what they were complaining about...haha.  Well, that is until this spot, I finally found some Vermont mud!!  

A beautiful waterfall, which turns into an icefall in the winter!!

Mom hiked in from the end point and met up with me just as I made it to the icefall.

We have come across and been able to enjoy several Eagle Scout projects along the trail.  Eagle Scouts have made some amazing contributions to the AT.  Even though the bog is now frozen I still very much appreciated the great log bridges!!

Looking down on the amazing bog bridges Eagle Scout project!!

Fresh un-tracked snow with a blaze on the other side just begging me to leave my snowshoe trail.

This snow was pretty well packed so I didn't leave much of a trail, more like very large chicken scratches!!

Stopping to turn around and enjoy the view.

Hendo's Mom and Hendo, made it back to the car!!

Papa Smurf put us in touch with Dan, who took us in for 3 nights.  While we hiked from VT 12 to Perkins Rd.  When the snowpocalypse was inbound we had thought about heading south and hike north, but after looking at the weather decided to stay put here in Vermont and continue trudging.

VT12 to Greengate Rd
A whole lot of Turkey tracks, but no turkeys.

More amazing vistas.

And just in case you weren't sure, out in the middle of nowhere on the trail, I come across this lone Foot Travel Welcome sign.

Keeping Stumbles offer for a place to stay in reserve was a great idea.  Stumbles and her parents took us in the day of the Snowpocalypse and graciously housed us for a week.  After much consideration we decided to wait out the snow storm here in Vermont and continue hiking south. Here in the Killington, VT area they predicted 6-12 inches of snow and received only 6. For this area that is not a big deal, as they contend with such amounts of snow all the time.  After looking at the weather and speaking with friends further south we felt this was the best course of action, because we would have been driving through the snow storm to get to Virginia. Everything was cleaned up the next day and we were back to hiking.  I am already snowshoeing on 2-3 feet of snow each day, so another 6 inches was not a big deal.

While driving to and from the trailhead one afternoon we came across this fork in the really, an actual fork on a tree, in the road, too funny!!

Greengate Rd to Stoney Brook Rd
This section was a ball buster. I was snowshoeing through 3 feet of powder and up to my knees for most of it. Let me tell you, I was cussing skiers, screw them and their hauty tauty fresh powder. And if I had to snowshoe in military gear up a mountain in such conditions I decided that I would let the enemy have the mountain until the snow melted...haha

I came across this amazing species of fish in is a Snow Shark!!

In addition to snowshoeing our way on down the trail we have had some off trail excitement!!
1. We got the car stuck in the snow and I got out and was able to push it out...whoot whoot!
2. We were driving back to our current trail angel's house for the night when we were met by a herd of 6 draft horses running down the road towards us. It was like we were in the middle of a Budweiser Clydesdale commercial. The horses ran up into the yard of the house we were approaching and were walking up and down the driveway. I got out of the car, shooed the horses up to the barn behind the house and went up to the house to see if anyone was home. I was scared sh@tless, these horses were HUGE and I have no experience with horses. I was just waiting for them to run me over or something. A woman came to the door and said, yes they belonged to she and her husband and she didnt know they were loose. She said they were up in the pasture and must have somehow gotten out. I asked if she needed my help to get them secured and she said yes. Now this lady was half my size, but walked right up to and around these HUGE horses like they were small little dogs. Again, I was terrified inside, but followed right behind her and helped her get all 6 horses into the barn and the doors shut. We think 3 the horses were Clydesdales or Belgians and the other three a mix breed or something. We are going to stop by tomorrow to ask for certain. Never a dull moment.

River Rd to Hwy 4 
Thundering Falls near Killington, VT.  It isn't very thundering this time of year, frozen solid.

A great sign near Mount Meadows Lodge.

Mountain Meadows Lodge was a great help by holding a mail drop, sent to me by a fellow thru-hiker, for 2 months and receiving snowshoes for mom sent to us by my brother Daniel.  As I was snowshoeing by the lodge I met a woman who was cross-country skiing.  The woman asked if I knew where the trails were near the lodge.  I pointed out the white blazes of the AT and explained I was hiking on the Appalachian Trail which was marked by the white blazes and that I had seen some markings for a snowshoe trail a little way down the AT.  She looked at me and asked what the Appalachian Trail was.  I explained it was the hiking trail which ran from Georgia to Maine.  She said she had never heard of such a thing.  Wow, never ceases to amaze me how unknowing people are about the world around them.
Hendo's Mom hiking with me for a bit near Giffords State Park.

Hendo snowshoeing up and over to Sherburne Pass.

I found this sign very funny.  The "Not a Trail" part makes sense, as it does look like the open area behind the sign might be a nice wide trail, but the bathroom comment cracked me up, because the entire world is my bathroom...haha!!

WhooHoo..made it to the section of the AT in the Vermont where the Long Trail and AT run together.

Let me tell you, this sign isn't lying...they cars fly down Route 4, regardless of the weather conditions.

Because the snow has become so deep, I am bypassing Killington Mountain for now.  at elevations of 1500-2500 ft the snow has been knee to thigh deep at times, even with snow shoes on.  The snow on Killington, 3928 ft is likely to be hip to chest deep and that is just too dangerous for me to try and trudge through at this time.

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