Day 6 started early, or Day 5 extended on into the night depending on how you want to look at it. Sharing a shelter with three noisy sleeping pads and the folks rolling around on them all night was not a joy. Very little sleep was to be had before the rain began at dawn. It came in waves, with downpours for a bit and then showers. It was still raining hard when I left to head down into Johnson for my resupply.
It had let up a bit, just light showers, by the time I reached Prospect Rock. Instead of falcons I met a small flock of big wild turkeys there. A very neat spot despite the weather I’m guessing the view on a clear day would be amazing.
After dropping down off the cliff it was soon time to cross the Lamoille River just before hitting Rt 15 highway. I picked up my box of food at the hardware store and proceeded to cram it all into my mostly empty bear can.
Somewhere in there things fell apart and in conversations with my wife I decided to end the hike and go home. Mentally I was never really in the right place for this hike and my resolve to continue on was just not there. I’d been hiking in wet clothes for days and the thought of three more weeks of that seemed impossible. If money wasn’t an issue I would have just inserted a hotel stay every few days to dry out, but that would have added too much cost to the trip.
Looking at things more clearly now I can see that my Seasonal Affect was really bad this year. Mental focus is important on trail and my mind was a shambles heh. While my gear and logistics were all in place, without a focused mind every day was a struggle. When the moment came to embrace the suck I just didn’t have it in me. Hard lessons to learn on trail, but important. A trip of this difficulty level can’t be done by just going through the motions. If I try again I will have to make certain my head is in the right place before I start. Saving up enough for a few hotel stays would probably be a good idea too because drying out on trail didn’t seem very possible given the short days.
Sorry to string you along on a trip cut short. I haven’t looked at any of the video yet, but there may be a YouTube version of the story in the near future. I’ll leave you here with the view of my last night’s camp, alone in the forest.
Day 5 started with an early morning rain shower. Even without the rain my trail clothes were not drying overnight. That morning the wet extended to my tarp and even the quilts were starting to feel a bit soggy from the humidity.
Thankfully I was feeling a bit better that morning because the climb up from Corliss to the top of Laraway was waiting for me. The actual summit wasn’t much to write home about. A boulder and sign marked the spot, but i wasn’t even really out of the trees. Then I got to the lookout and found my views for the day!
Definitely a glorious spot to eat cheese and sausage! The rest of the day was back in the tree tunnel, but for a few minutes in the sunshine with the wind blowing hard I actually began to dry out. I met some day hikers who came up and then many more on my way down the mountain. This viewpoint was a local favorite and I could see why.
With a big storm expected overnight and in the morning I headed up to the Roundtop Shelter to spend the night. I am really not a fan of shelters, but the thought of getting any wetter was too much heh.
Apologies for the lack of pics. This was an ugly day of hiking with a bad stomach. The first few hours went pretty well actually though.
Just before dropping down into Devil’s Gulch this window opened giving me a peek at Spruce Ledge on the far side. It was heading up that steep climb the fun went out of the day heh. I was 6 miles from camp when my stomach gave out. The rest of the day was a mental game of holding things together while on the move.
I dragged my butt up that ridge and then up to the top of Butternut Mtn before dropping down steeply into a notch where I found Corliss Camp. It was nice to make camp earlier. There was time to chat with some of the many hikers I found there already before getting some nice rest.
After years of reading about it but never living it I’d about given up on the dream. Then, totally unplanned and unexpectedly, there is was! We can’t always make our dreams come true I guess. Sometimes they come true though anyway!
48 pics and the story of The Mama’s triumphant return to Mt Mansfield and this year’s annual “marinara in the wilderness” location: Lake Carmi State ParkLast year’s failed attempt to climb this mountain inspired us all to come back stronger next time. Diets were changed. Winter exercise increased. Then of course real life got in the way and it all fell apart the last month or so before the trip 🙂 We didn’t let that or the weather daunt us. There had been some heavy rain the day we arrived and our day to climb started out feeling steamy, but thankfully cooler than the 90s of the days before.We were stopping early and often per our plan of taking care of everyone’s needs before they became problems. No shortage of places to sit on this part of the trail, but the little one was ready to go.We were definitely having a lot more fun this time! There were a few challenging bits for those with shorter legs, but we were moving right along.Definitely looking much happier than the last time we were on this spot. I got a lot of great pics of The Mama with epic clouds behind her.Still a bit more to go. Just over this hump is where we ate lunch and turned around last year. Soon we’d be on unexplored trail which is always a bit more exciting.Then we hit the somewhat crowded summit where we tried to look cool about the whole being on top of mountain thing 🙂 Pretty sure if there was no one else there it would have been a lot louder heh. We try to be good neighbors!That happy face might be because she’s got her shoes off or maybe she is just glad we’ve finally reached this spot. Cheese and sausage might have something to do with it too.From the summit we could look down on the spot where we stopped last time and it seemed so close. The trail winds around the side to the left rather than coming straight up the cliff so the walk is much longer. Having done it I’m all the more sure that turning them around last time was a really good idea. Coming this much more would have made for a lot of suffering before we got back to camp.Not much suffering to be found this time around other than a healthy cloud of blackflies on the summit. A lot of people since it isn’t a long walk from the top of the toll road, but that motivated us to start our long walk back down.We enjoyed the lean to quite a bit on this trip as it was far removed from the other campsites and the parking lot. Work to carry everything down to the camp, but worth it. We ate well and then made a fire mainly to make s’mores as it certainly wasn’t chilly. I invited Ranger Ira to come join us when his shift ended, more as a joke than anything since I assumed he’d want his dinner. We’d just wrapped up our toasting party and were about to put everything away when he wandered up. He decided that he’d have his dessert first that night and we had a blast swapping stories with him for a bit. Not sure we want to climb Mansfield again anytime soon, but we really enjoyed our two nights at Underhill again this year. It helped that they timed the downpours to happen when we were in camp!Then we were off to Lake Carmi State Park, almost to the Canadian border. This is a bustling campground with lots of people and lots of noise. Not our usual thing, but we wanted some place to chill out after the mountain climbing thing and if you ignored all the noise this was a beautiful spot. The LT was wet inside from the previous night’s storm so I put a tarp out front in case another came through. They positioned it for the view, not protection 🙂This place was definitely about the views! And the ducks!! No really, there were ducks everywhere. They’d wander through camp looking for scraps or handouts. There were signs saying not to feed them, but of course people do.Yup, views and ducks pretty much all the way down.The next day we headed out to explore the hiking trails near the park gate. We saw no one else out there and I think the gate ranger was a bit surprised when Frau Stranger asked about the trails. We covered most all of them except for a few short cut offs. First there was a huge meadow area that used to be a farm. Lots of birds and flowers. The trail was just a mown path that wound around the perimeter. This old stone wall gave the trail its name, but not much of it remained. Guess it got tired of waiting around to fall 😉Not sure if this is a snowmobile trail or what, but the mowing stopped here so we did too.Almost back to the car I spotted the other trail option hiding behind a tree. We were glad we looked for it because it took us through the forest and down along the shore of the lake.That fuzzy thing in the middle is a very large bird which appeared to be an eagle. It launched from a tree right over our heads as we came through and made a wonderful whooshing sound with its wings. It appeared to be fishing when I tried to take this shot, but autofocus thought I wanted a picture of the tree heh.Then the trail headed back away from the shore and through a fern filled glade.No really, it was filled! With the sun coming through the trees it was really neat there. I’m used to seeing ferns like this early in the Summer, but not in August. After all of that walking there was some swimming and some relaxing. Just because we weren’t sleeping in the hammocks doesn’t mean we couldn’t hang them up.And of course there were more ducks. Lots more ducks!Finally it was time for the annual “marinara in the wilderness” which has been going on for a decade now. The pasta changes from year to year, this time I went with spinach and cheese tortellini. The sauce is always cooked fresh with shrimp carefully planned to survive in the cooler until the big event. We had a full grocery store just miles away this time so that part was easy this year compared to some.
This was a very successful trip on many levels. The mountain was climbed, marshmallows were toasted and shared, ducks were seen and shrimp eaten. Plans for another trip after this fell through so I’m especially glad we got a chance to enjoy this one so much. Alone or with others, I hope you’re getting out there because Summer is almost gone. Time for family trips is over which is sad, but Fall brings thoughts of solo adventures…