Our first stop was Lake Willoughby where we set up camp and quickly hit the trail in the early afternoon for Mt. Pisgah. Great hike on an old trail up along some cliffs and then to the summit.
Mt. Pisgah from the lake
We wasted no time bagging this one as we also wanted to hit Mt. Hor on the other side of the lake before darkness.
Mt. Hor from the north side of the lake
We finished up and immediately took the trail on the other side of the road up the old road. The maps really had me a bit confused on this one as it shows the second switchback to be shorter than it really is. It went on and on and on and on until we finally came to the footpath into the forest.
Up we went in the growing darkness. It was clear we would be coming down by headlamp. We hit the anti-climactic summit (as it really is not marked, just the highest spot in the tree-covered mound at the top) and checked out the viewpoint on the backside. The wind was really blowing up here.
On our way back down, we saw two pairs of eyes shining back at us from a tree on the side of the path. Shining the headlamp at them made them scurry up higher on the trunk until we could see it was a pair of small raccoons.
We camped that night at the campsite on the south side of the lake and headed north around it the next day to our next objective, the highest mountain in Vermont.
We arrived in the park late afternoon and parked the car a bit off the main road on an old grown-over one. We packed up for an overnight trip and headed up. The sun was out and it was a great Fall day. The trail is somewhat steep in spots and rocky but we made excellent time and were at the hut in a couple of hours. We picked out a spot on the upper bunk and took a summit pack for the hike up Profanity Trail.
The hike was really fun with a few steep scrambly spots. After about 45 minutes, we were up top looking west over Burlington and Lake Champlain at the Adirondacks on the other side. Up top were many rangers including one long-haired type who thought he was pretty original singing Ramble On lyrics and letting everyone know about the Lord of the Rings references in it like he was the first one to crack that code. (Yes, yes, we KNOW all of that, goofball.)
Summit of Mansfield
We hung out and walked to some subpeaks on either side of the true summit before heading down in the sunset. We enjoyed dehydrated food at the hut while a group came up including the ranger. Apparently, it was his last or one of his last nights there for the summer and he wanted to go out in style I guess. He and his buddies drank beer and partook of illegal herbs into the night while we tried to get some sleep. (although for some strange reason we were now growing hungry)
The next morning we were up and going early as we wanted to get down and head south towards our next agenda item, Stowe Pinnacle. We drove to a state park and took it easy that day, playing cards in the tent while it poured outside. Sometime in the night, it cleared so we had a nice day the next day to hit the Pinnacle and hopefully one or more of the mountains along the ridge behind it.
Stowe Pinnacle from the trailhead
The hike up to the Pinnacle was easy and quick. It is a great workout trail and nice rocky summit with excellent views of Mansfield, Camels Hump and others. We didn’t wait too long up top though as it was cold and windy. So, we quickly set off for the connecting ridge up to Hogback, Worchester and others.
This part of the hike reminded me of the Columbia Gorge.
It was wet and overgrown with steep climbs up rock and roots. Lots of places to slip and fall. It took us a while but we made the ridge and decided to head to Hogsback Mountain. The ridge hike was fun although a bit swampy in spots. That allowed us to see many mooseprints though along the way. We made the summit after a bit and enjoyed some food on a great rocky viewpoint on the east side. This is another peak whose summit is not clearly defined and tree-covered.
Hogback as seen from Stowe Pinnacle
We decided that was enough for the day and headed back making it to the car just about sunset. I was trying to convince Flanders that we needed to celebrate at the Ben & Jerry’s factory nearby but that was denied as that was supposed to be our reward after the next objective, Camel's Hump. (C’MON!)
We ended up getting some pizza at a local place and it was excellent. Afterwards, in the dark, we found another state park and a camp spot there. The next day was an off day saved for doing the tourist thing and driving to a roadside place to get some real Vermont maple syrup. We also did a small hike around the state park where we hiked along ancient stone walls and an old cemetery. That night we chatted with nearby campers from New York who were there with their huge dog. We took turns throwing a log into the woods for it to retrieve.
The next day we were off to Camel's Hump. The Led Zeppelin-quoting ranger told us about the hike up the south side and we were biting on his advice. That hike was probably the best of the trip. The first part was up to a few small ponds with Camel's Hump looming to the north. Then, we gained the ridge and another steep scrambly hike up rocks in the sun took us to our lunch spot overlooking the valley below.
Autumn colors along the trail on Camel’s Hump
The next part of the hike is along the ridge up and down, climbing along rocks and rooty places until you come to the summit area, a rounded rocky bunch of granite. We scrambled around the west side and then back to the south to the summit. There were many others there including our Robert Plant wannabe ranger. We chatted with him a while although he kept running off to tell others not to step on the fragile plants or to keep a dog on a leash. After some lunch, we headed back down and on to Ben & Jerry’s (FINALLY!).
I treated myself to 3 scoops there and then, when Flanders was on the phone to his wife, I snuck back in and got 2 more. Oh yes, there would be no weight loss for me on this trip!
Unfortunately, there was a family emergency and we had to head back to Massachusetts so we headed back tired and sweaty but full of ice cream. It turned out that the emergency was not as bad as first thought so, after spending an off day at his house, we were off to bag Massachusetts’ highest peak, Greylock.
We picked the Roaring Brook to Hopper Trail route as it seemed the most worthwhile. The first part of the trail was through a wooded stream-filled gully. We got a bit off trail in one spot and walked into an open meadow. We figured we were off a bit but not too much and we easily found the right path. The hike is gradual and easy up to the campsite area. From there on, it is still easy but there are a lot of dayhikers and tourists to the top. At the summit, we found a quiet spot away from the tourons to eat some food before heading back down. Then it was back to his house for some Wendy’s and to watch his DVD’s of The Family Guy. Another successful, New England Summitfest. In another two years, who knows, perhaps we’ll hit the Adirondacks that time.