I’ve been hiking in the Adirondacks for well over forty years – or so I like to think. Actually, I can count on one hand the number of Adirondack peaks I have summited in the past quarter century – all but one of which are small viewpoints outside the classic canon of the ADK 46, the elite group of peaks over four-thousand feet in elevation. (A historical curiosity, three of the peaks on the list of 46 have since been re-surveyed and found to be shy of 4000′ elevation, but remain on the list for ol’ times sake.) I spent the summers of the 1970s hiking these peaks with my family, and the winters of the 1980s exploring the snowy backcountry with my high-school and college buddies. My last backpacking trip here was in 1990. Recently, I found myself drawn back to these ancient peaks – for they are far older than the Appalachians, and reside deeper in my own past – with an eye toward notching off the final dozen peaks on my own list of 46. I set aside three days on my calendar and struck out at dawn on Friday, with three specific summits in mind, and was rewarded with breathtaking scenery, fond memories of trips long past, a rekindled appreciation for this beautiful wilderness, and lovely photos. More after the break.
Over the past week I was beginning to think that winter was a bust – with just a handful of great winter outings to show for it. Today proved me wrong. With Mount Mansfield as our goal, Lelia and I set out for Stowe, Vermont and soon met up with Jen and Lars. The parking lot was nearly full of hikers, backcountry skiers, ice climbers, and others eyeing the pure-blue sky and crisp views of the snowy peaks. Heading south on the Long Trail, we climbed steeply up a well-packed treadway smoothed by several groups of skiers skinning their way up ahead of us, and criss-crossed by the carved turns of skiers and snowboarders who left the groomed trails of Stowe for the hardwood glades of the Long Trail. The snow was fairly fresh, with perhaps six inches of powder on top of a firm but not icy base. We reached Taft Lodge for lunch, basking in the startlingly warm March sunshine with a group of three younger skiers, another group of four older Quebecois, all sharing the happiness that comes from bright sunshine, blue skies, soft powder, and fresh air. More below the break.
I was itching to get above treeline this weekend, to enjoy the fresh snow the hills received this week and, hopefully, some long-range views. I recruited an old friend and we headed for Camel’s Hump in Vermont. David spent two summers working there as a ranger, and yet had not been back to this impressive peak and its myriad trails in over 20 years.
We were the first to arrive at the Couching Lion parking area on the east side of the mountain, and planned an 8.4-mile loop (up the Dean Trail, along the Long Trail following the ridgeline, and down the Monroe Trail). We made first tracks through several inches of fresh powder on the Dean Trail and Long Trail, enjoying vast views of the Adirondacks and glimpses of Moosilauke and Washington in New Hampshire. We saw nobody else until we hit the summit cone, where we met two hikers and their chilly dog. On the way down, though, we encounters dozens of hikers who had come up Burrows or Monroe trail, and had an easy glide down that latter trail. Check out the photo gallery.
Needless to say, when one is woofed from a big hike, and passing within 5 miles of the Ben & Jerry’s factory, one just has to stop in for some ice cream. Indeed, I think there is an obscure code in Vermont State Law to that effect.
Thanks, David, for a fine outing!