Stowe, Vermont: Back on the LT

Last Saturday, Debbie and I were back on the Long Trail for the first time in nearly three years. It was only a brief excursion. In town for the Green Mountain Club celebration, we decided to run up the toll road from the Stowe ski area. It was 3000 feet of elevation gain in a little more than four miles. Running up the slopes of Mt. Mansfield, to the Forehead, brought back some great memories. We thru-hiked the LT in July 2005, which seems like eons ago. Still, we rarely go a day where we don’t bring up the trip. Long distance hiking is in our blood, though we don’t have the time to do it as much anymore. We are GMC Long Trail End-to-End Mentors and normally a week doesn’t go by without us sharing our experience with another potential end-to-end hiker.

We were joined on our run up (and down) the Forehead by Ben Rose, the Executive Director of the GMC. Ben is a runner and has many consecutive finishes at the Key Bank Vermont City Marathon. He had done an historic running race up and down the toll road before, so he knew what he was in for. Mostly, it was Deb setting the pace and Ben and I struggling to keep up. Of course, we all did better on the descent. The views from the Forehead were fabulous, stretching far to the Adirondacks of New York in the west, far north into Canada, and to the White Mountains of New Hampshire in the east. We chatted amiably (though mostly on the way down) about GMC, Vermont, AMC, New England, hiking, running, Lake Champlain, kids, education, family business, and a host of other topics.

It was a fine morning. The LT itself was pretty much impassable. We ventured onto the trail briefly, though it still had two to three feet of snow on it. That is proof that it is going to be a long mud season in Vermont. End-to-enders who think they are going to get an early start this year should bewarned that going could be slow…and messy. Best to wait a bit longer and minimize damage to the trails. Too much foot traffic on soft trails isn’t good for the Leave No Trace ethics.

After our run, we drove up into Smuggler’s Notch. The road was sort of open. Folks were up there and we had a nice view of a couple of rock climbers high on the rock face.

The trip to Vermont was just what the doctor prescribed. Clean air. Great trails. Good vibe.

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