Monday, September 6, 2010

Mount Mansfield (Vermont Highpoint)

I needed to scratch my hiking itch and the family was getting a little stir crazy during the first half of Labor Day weekend so Anne, the boys and I made a game time decision and headed up to Vermont on Sunday morning.  We had a great trip which included a trip to the Ben & Jerry's Factory and also to the Joseph Smith Memorial and, of course, I took in a hike of Mount Mansfield while we were in the area. You can find out more about the weekend over on the family blog but I will cover the hike here.

If you start from where the Long Trail crosses VT 108, the hike is just under 2.5 miles each way and has about 2,800 ft of elevation gain.  That made for a pretty steep but enjoyable hike. The bulk of the hike is spent under Vermont's green forest blanket which eventually thins out as you approach the tree line. The trail is your typical rooted, stoned Vermont trail so you have to have to be paying attention but when the trail is that steep, the roots and rocks make for good steps too. The only sketchy parts of the hike are the rocks scrambling and some sections of the trail which are all granite.  This wasn't a real problem today but I could see how it could be pretty dangerous when the rock is wet. I started around 7:30am so the air was still cool and by the time I got up to the Alpine zone, it was actually pretty chilly. The skies were mostly sunny but the summit itself was socked in with clouds and a stiff wind made it uncomfortable to hang out for long. As you might expect, the trip down look about half the time and I got back to my car just before 10:30am. 

On the way up I crossed paths with a couple of backpackers, one of whom was thru-hiking the LT (VT-MA border to Quebec).  Other than that I didn't see anyone until after I had taken a few pictures on the summit and a lone hiker and his dog arrived from the other side of the mountain.  I enjoyed the quiet.  I haven't been on the trail as much as I would have liked to this summer and now the summer is about over so it was wonderful to soak in the remaining green before the explosion of color and cool arrives (which I plan to soak in later, as well!).  On the way down I passed a least a dozen hikers on their way up. 

Overall the hike was good exercise for the body, mind and soul.