#67 - Mt. Mansfield - 09/07/2005

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  1. #1

    #67 - Mt. Mansfield - 09/07/2005

    Date(s) Hiked: September 17, 2005

    Trails(s) Hiked: Sunset Ridge Trail, Long Trail

    Total Distance: 6.6 miles rt, 2550'

    Difficulty: moderately easy with a few tricky rock scrambles

    Conditions: variable; see report

    Special Required Equipment: champagne

    Trip Report:
    As the weather forecast deteriorated, so did my plans for starting out at the VFTT Gathering in Stowe, VT, on Thursday night. I saw no point in trying to do a sunset hike in bad weather: why struggle in the dark, in the rain, on rocky ledges, with no views? If I was going to get wet, it might as well be in daylight. I pushed my plans back to leave Friday after work.

    I picked up Bunchberry and we started northward. We crossed the border into New Hampshire and the rain began; the further we traveled, the heavier it got. There were places along I-89 where it was coming down in a torrent, and places where it wasn't raining at all. We tried not to think about what condition the campground would be in when we got there ... would it be a lake? Would we have to cross the moat to get to our tents? Well, as it turned out, we pulled into Gold Brook Campground at close to 11pm under just the slightest mist.

    After a round of hellos, we set up our tents. This is when the rain started up again. Once the tents were up, the rain stopped. Huh. How about that...

    Saturday morning was slow for me due to lack of sleep; there were also many hangovers visible (and hiding). Bunchberry & I eventually left camp around 10am to head over to Underhill State Park, where the first thing I noticed was the sign about locking the gate at sunset. Had I gone up as originally planned, cars would have had to park below the gate (if even allowed), or be stuck there. D'oh!

    At around 11, under suddenly sunny and warm skies we made our way up the Sunset Ridge Trail. After first shortcutting the switchbacks of the CCC Road, the trail heads up a very moderate ascent with fine footing through nice woods. The surprisingly warm weather had us soaked with sweat, but it was worth it for some brief views down to Underhill and Jericho. And they were brief, as after just a bit more ascent we lost the sun.



    We came to the side trail to Cantilever Rock, which I'd read about in Jared Gange's guide book, and wandered off the .2 miles to see what it was about. We were marveling at the size of an enormous ledge when I happened to look straight up and see the actual cantilever about 30' over my head, and I almost jumped trying to get out of its way. That is one impressive piece of rock, and someday when ice gets the better of it, I don't want to be anywhere nearby.

    We continued upward. We no longer had distant views, everything was grey, but we were not in the fog itself yet. The ground and the ledges were still dry and made for good footing as we broke treeline at a tricky pull-up rock face. We could see how on a clear day the ledges must be spectacular, long expanses of wide-open rock simply stretched into the grey for us. I was surprised at how much time we spent out in the open. I tried to will an opening in the clouds but to no avail, the views remained limited to a few hundred feet at best as we truly entered the fog. This of course meant that when I suddenly saw the West Chin looming in the fog, I was a little unnerved, because it looked like a steep, towering monstrosity to climb. The trail wraps around it, though, and we soon found ourselves at the Long Trail junction.

    There had been a number of people on the trail to that point, including a few groups, and here at the junction we waited for more in order to cross the log bridges. From this point on, it was just a ridge walk, and in a short time I spied Periwinkle near the summit, along with Mad Townie, Coldfeet, and Stan. I took a moment to think about it all, about everything I'd done in the past several years of hiking, from my first time deciding that I should work on the 48, through last year's mad dash of New Hampshire peaks and Moosilauke finish a year ago this coming weekend, and then new trails and new views with new friends these past months. It had all come down to this hike, this peak, these people, this moment: I stepped on the USGS disc and smiled for #67. I had now climbed all the 4000-footers in New England.



    Suddenly I was holding a champagne bottle. I managed to hold onto the cork, satisfying the summit steward, and was grateful for the light misting rain as bubbly did what it does best: bubble out my nose. After that tingly moment, it was time for lunch, and we all gathered on a dry patch of ground to sit around and snack and pose stuffed animals for compromising photos.



    At three o'clock we knew nobody else would be coming by, so we took a few photos and parted ways, Bunchberry and I returning back down to the Sunset Ridge Trail. This is when the fun began, as the rain got steadier, and in the distance were rumbles of thunder. Thinking about all the exposed rock we had to traverse to get back below treeline, I got a little nervous. Okay, a lot nervous. But I was kept in checkand with a steady pace on the slippery ledges we made it to the trees just as the rain turned into a soaking deluge, the rumbles of thunder turned into crackles, and lightning could be seen flashing in the sky.

    It poured the whole way back to the car, and we had a wonderful time.

    Then it was done, and time for the long drive around the mountain back to Stowe, as well as the all-important stop at the Cold Hollow Cider Mill for cider and cider doughnuts, my long-anticipated perfect ending to this hike.

    It was a great weekend! I have to offer heartfelt thanks to everyone, in particular Periwinkle, Coldfeet, Stan, Mad Townie, and Bunchberry. It's been a great ride, and I hope the trip continues.


    The full set of photos from this hike (which isn't very many) is available here.
    Skiing combines outdoor fun with knocking down trees with your face. - Dave Barry
    Waterville 11/30; Loon 12/7; Cannon 12/13, 1/17, 2/23; Sugarloaf 12/20, 21-22; Bretton Woods 1/3; Jay Peak 1/24-25; Heavenly 2/9; Squaw Valley 2/10-2/11; Wachusett 3/3; Sunday River 3/7-8

  2. #2
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    Re: #67 - Mt. Mansfield - 09/07/2005

    Quote Originally Posted by MichaelJ
    It had all come down to this hike, this peak, these people, this moment: I stepped on the USGS disc and smiled for #67. I had now climbed all the 4000-footers in New England.
    Congrats. Nice job. What's next?
    I ski double black diamonds.

  3. #3
    Next I redo some of the 48, accompanying friends and/or going up via different routes.

    My apologies - the power has gone out at home so all the pictures are inaccessible right now.
    Skiing combines outdoor fun with knocking down trees with your face. - Dave Barry
    Waterville 11/30; Loon 12/7; Cannon 12/13, 1/17, 2/23; Sugarloaf 12/20, 21-22; Bretton Woods 1/3; Jay Peak 1/24-25; Heavenly 2/9; Squaw Valley 2/10-2/11; Wachusett 3/3; Sunday River 3/7-8

  4. #4
    Congratulations!!

    The power must be back on, the pics look great

  5. #5
    Thanks!

    Skiing combines outdoor fun with knocking down trees with your face. - Dave Barry
    Waterville 11/30; Loon 12/7; Cannon 12/13, 1/17, 2/23; Sugarloaf 12/20, 21-22; Bretton Woods 1/3; Jay Peak 1/24-25; Heavenly 2/9; Squaw Valley 2/10-2/11; Wachusett 3/3; Sunday River 3/7-8

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