Once again, I found myself heading to Vermont the day before a hike. Once again, I stopped at Scotts for a quick boost of encouragement and some granola bars. I was on my way traveling 3 hours to again, sleep in my car for an early morning hike. It was almost time to put Vermont behind me and complete my final peak for that state; Camel’s Hump. First I had to get there and then I had to sleep. One may be easier than the other these days. The ride was quick except for the rain and a giant flea market clogging up the local roads to get to the state park. I sent off a quick text to say that I was almost there and then promptly lost cell service. I had hoped that I would get it back at the park however, that was not the case. I was now on my own for the night.
This second time around in the car was not that bad. I parked in the winter lot away from the main parking areas. The pup and I settled in and ate. I crawled in the back with a book and my headlamp promptly died. Thankfully it made it through dinner as it was dark and note to self: buy triple A’s before the next trip! I had no other choice but to try and fall asleep. The next thing I remember is waking up at 4am. Not a bad night’s sleep for the back of my car. After eating breakfast and packing up my sleeping gear, I drove into the actual park. Parking in the lower of the two parking areas to warm up my legs, I head out with the pup for the morning.
Even at 6am, it’s already humid and my pants are quickly converted to shorts. The bug spray made its first appearance of the season as well. The trail was getting wetter as I travel and in-between rocks to hop; I am finding mud that even the pup can’t avoid. We are traveling quickly though in spite of it all the conditions. The water crossings were mostly bridged and while they were small, it was still a nice Vermont touch. Of course, heading up the Monroe trail, I quickly realized that there was more and more water on the trail and that the water was occasionally flowing like a stream. Vermont must have gotten a good deal of rain with all the storms that were traveling through recently. Isis and I continued down the trail which had an easy vertical gain to it and was mostly mud and dirt over rocks or boulders. I was enjoying the warm up and the blankness in my mind. More and more hikes were being hiked with just me being fully present on the trails. No heavy thoughts and no worries. I was getting used to it mentally.
We came to the junction of the Dean trail and Scott and I had talked about it last night so, I decided to take it and hook up with the Long Trail heading north to the summit. The Dean trail seemed a little over grown in places and the water was building up on the trail for the lack of water bars. I had removed a few branches that were sticking out waiting to catch someone. I had to laugh because Vermont was known for its well groomed trails. I was also glad to help. I was going to check out the Hump Brook tent sight however, the trail seemed to be well underwater with still more water flowing into it. I opted to keep going to get the summit, unaware of the trail ahead of me. Isis and I enjoyed the Dean trail and even as it began to climb, we handled the humidity as well as the vertical gain well. The rocks were getting slick from the water and my boots were also starting to slip. I was determined not to fall and tried to be extra careful. The trail was passing through some pretty boggy areas and was becoming very soft under feet. After a few more sections that seemed to alternate between woods and bogs, I was finally at the Long Trail and 1.7 miles to the summit. Peace of cake… I thought.
I’m always up for a challenge. My life has been based on them until recently and apparently, the Long Trail to the Camel’s Hump summit was going to be no different. Isis goes where I go and usually before I do because she is leashed (and rangers always thank me for it). This of course means that we are tethered together and if I stumble, so could she, and if she goes to fast, I could get pulled over the rocks and trip. The long trail north on this peak was the most vertical trail I have experienced in the state of Vermont. The rocks were huge and needed to be climbed over in sections. I loved it and the pup seemed to handle most of them with ease. We maneuvered through these rocks and up and over boulders. Only occasionally would I have to lift her up to the next section in front of us. We crested the top of an outlook and I stood there in awe. A beautiful partial under cast could be seen in the distance. Scenes like this reminded me of why I like to hike so early in the morning. You just can’t see them any other time and today it was breathtaking.
We continued up the Long Trail through woods and out onto ledges. Soon, the Long Trail was nothing but rock as we traveled up to the summit cone. Isis seemed perfectly at home on the trail as she jumped from rock to rock almost following the blazes exactly. As we approached the summit, there were two younger guys and their dog admiring the view. We all chatted for a bit and as the clouds began to move in, I had my picture taken. I was then alone on the summit as they were heading onward in their 5 day journey on the Long Trail. I sat back and ate my second breakfast along with Isis and her trail mix. WE watched the clouds swirl around us and began to get a chill. The kind of chill that stands the hair on the back of your neck up. Another older gentleman came to share the summit with us however; he didn’t last too long and was not very social. Isis and I began to pack up after another brief pause to take in the diminishing view. I breathed in deeply and shut my eye to take everything in. Life was peaceful and I was grateful for that. I smiled and hoisted my pack on my back. Isis got up as well and we began to head for the Monroe trail again.
Not wanting to go back the way we came was a great idea to make a loop of it. Heading down was not too bad and the afternoon rush was just starting. People were slowly filing to the summit. Some faring better than others but all trying none the less. Isis and I made our way over the rocks, mud, water, and dirt of the Monroe trail. Stopping on occasion to speak with a fellow hiker or the care taker of the summit (I want that job.), everyone was in agreement that after a weeks worth of rain, this was a great day. Within 6 hours, we were back at the car. Isis and I were covered in mud and sweat as I loaded the gear into the car and changed. A family was getting ready to ascend the same way I had just done. They had little gear that I could see, no map and no real knowledge of the trails. What I told them was what I had experienced, how long it took me, and that if they felt they were getting in over their heads, they should turn back. Having hiked for a while now, I could not in good conscious let someone go uninformed. It was up to them weather they continued to the summit or not. Isis and I made our way out of the park with the AC on in the car. Next stop would be the 7 Barrel Brewery for some nachos and a gluten free beer or two. A great way to finish off my adventures in Vermont and now I was eager to get back with my hiking crew and for more adventures with them. Hiking solo is great however, sharing the hike with others was even better now. Maine was looming on the horizon too and as we drove home, my wheels were already spinning with plans.