Thursday, September 17, 2015

Yesterday was fun. I planned on hiking the Mount Abraham trail and reaching the summit. I had lunch packed and other stuff ready to go, so I was looking forward to it. After the fairly short drive to Lincoln Gap, Cindy and I reached the trail head.

The section of the trail I was going to be hiking was a section of The Long Trail. This is a trail that runs through the mountains of Vermont from North to South. It starts at the border with Massachusetts and ends at the Canadian border. It is fairly rough since the terrain here is fairly rocky. Also of note, the Long Trail is the inspiration for the Appalachian Trail.

I kissed the wife and headed off. The trail started pretty steep, but I was fresh and it was good. See… the thing is, when you are climbing to the top of a mountain there is a lot of up, and I do mean a lot. There was a lot of steep grades, rocks, roots, etc… all in the way. And stairs… lots of stairs. Some with rock steps and others with wood. It made my inner Taoist squeal happily but my inner hiker just sighed and groaned.

As you can see through the pictures, the trail was on the rough side. It didn’t take long before I was very happy that Cindy decided that hiking this was not for her. The trail was lovely but it was listed as strenuous for a good reason. Several groups passed me, as I quickly came to the realization that if I didn’t pace myself that I would run out of juice. And about a mile in I came to the realization that maybe this was a dumb idea for an overweight woman in only fair shape. I was overheating and started using a bandana soaked in ice cold stream water to help moderate my temperature. I was soaked to the bone and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky.

After 1.8 miles on the trail, I came to the Battel hut. This is a place where thru hikers can camp out on a flat surface with a roof over their heads. I thought it was pretty nice. There is a water spot and a picnic bench. I sat there for a bit, talking to two guys doing the Long Trail who were carrying lacrosse rackets. Apparently that was something they were doing for fun. Go them.

At this point I was only .8 miles from the summit and I was excited, despite being tired. 

However, the trail was far more intense in the last half of that. The first bit was nice. Sure it was still up but it was in nice shade with moss covered ground about, peaceful and still for the most part. I liked that. 

Then came the rock.

Those pictures are of the trail. Yes that is bare rock face. Yes I had to hike/climb that to reach the summit. It took forever because I got wore out easily. But climb I did. The view did not suck either.

There was also this really cool and large rock that stood out from the others. I call it Whitey Boulder, after the Boston Gangster. And in true Tennet fashion, I licked it. 

What was also fun was that the closer to the summit I got the shorter the trees got. Near the very top there were scrub pines that came to maybe my hip. The summit itself had alpine/artic plants up there and had twine to mark the boundaries so they could grow undisturbed. But I had made it to the top.

The view was stunning. The panorama shots here do not do it justice.

To the north I could make out a little bit of Canada. To the East I was able to see the White Mountains in New Hampshire. To the south were several of the Green Mountains. And to the west I could see Lake Champlain and the Adirondacks in New York. The day was clear without a cloud in the sky and the only impediments to seeing forever was the atmosphere itself. It took my breath away, which wasn’t too difficult as I had really been working.

This is the USGS seal of approval, stating the the summit was at 4006 feet.

Going down sucked, because all your weight shifts forward and hurts your toes. It was certainly a lot faster but it certainly did hurt. They still ache. And as to the question, does a Heather pee in the woods? Yes, and it was certainly an experience. Thank the Gods for through research. I did spot this great bit of surprise clover.

When I got back to the hut, I was fried and still had a good ways to go. I sat and talked to this woman, who for her 60th birthday was hiking the Long Trail. Finally, I got to my feet and trudged back. The route still had those steep bits, but this time I was heading down. Honestly I started to wear down faster than expected, thinking I would be fine for the return trip. I was still overheating, and I ran out of water halfway back to Lincoln Gap. That was not good.

This really cool root system that had pulled up helped distract me for a while.

I did not have a good time after this. I was thirsty, my legs cramped up, I began stumbling, slipping and such. It was bad. There were times I had to force myself to stand up because otherwise I wouldn't have gotten back up. There was also a few times where I just wanted to lay down in the dirt and call it a day. And yet I still wasn't back. 

Finally, I reached the top of this climb and saw a sign I remembered from the beginning of the trail. I got excited and as I began down slope again I spotted the road. About halfway down I saw our car pull up and by the time Cindy got out of the car and walked over to the trail head, I was nearly down. 

Needless to say, I was done in. 

We got home, I showered, ate and lay there with my legs up, fried beyond all belief. I am still tired now, the next day. That was definitely more mountain then I could chew but I stubborned myself through. I am sure nobody doubts that.

I hiked 5.34 miles, took about 35k steps according to my phone and burned roughly 1700 calories. Not bad for a days diversion.

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