October 17, 2015

Killington Peak

We're back! Three years ago almost to the day, Katy and I hiked Mount Carrigain to complete our 48th and final New Hampshire 4000 footer. Since then, our lives have changed quite a bit as we now have two children and are as busy as ever. It's always been our goal to continue on with our peakbagging and tackle the New England 4000 footer list. We love our boys and we love being parents, but one thing that is certainly true is that finding the time (and the babysitters) to get out and hike a 4000 foot peak is quite a bit more challenging now. But last weekend, we found both! We decided to rent a condo in the Killington, VT area for Columbus Day weekend for a classic New England trip. We invited Katy's sister Patty and her boyfriend Mike to join us, and they graciously offered to watch the boys for a few hours on Saturday so that Katy and I could hike Killington Peak for our 49th New England 4000 footer and first outside of New Hampshire! It was definitely a different experience from our peakbagging trips in the past, but on Saturday morning we were ready to go and out the door of the condo to make the short drive over to the Bucklin Trailhead to start the hike.

It was about 10:00AM when we made it to the trailhead and were geared up to go. The weather was cool and crisp with forecasts in the 40's under mostly clear skies. The Bucklin Trail is about 3.5 miles long with a total of about 2500 feet of elevation gain. The first couple miles are quite straightforward though as they are mostly flat. We cruised along without issue, enjoying the fall foliage and just being out. The trail gradually became steeper and we continued to work our way up, passing a few other hikers along the way. It wasn't too long before we reached the trail junction with the Appalachian Trail and the Long Trail (both the same trail during this stretch) which we followed for a short while. We passed by the Cooper Lodge Cabin and a few tent platforms before reaching the Killington Spur trail which is just a quarter mile to get to the summit. This section was short but quite steep, requiring a bit of scrambling as we rapidly popped out above the short Alpine Evergreen trees which were still covered in frost. We reached the summit which was busy with people and where apparently just seconds earlier a couple had just gotten engaged! Pretty cool.

Despite only seeing a few other hikers on the trail, the summit was packed. Killington Peak is a ski resort and while it wasn't ski season yet, they operate gondola rides to the top year round. It being a peak fall foliage weekend, there were plenty of people who made the trip up to catch the pretty spectacular views. We took some pictures and then made our way to the Peak Lodge, which has cafeteria style food available as well as a full service bar operating. In contrast to other summit services that I've seen (i.e. Mount Washington), this one was surprisingly posh and definitely catered to a certain crowd. Even though we brought our PB&J sandwiches, we decided to share one of the sandwich offerings from the menu which turned out to be quite good. It was fun to spend some time up there and take in all the mountain had to offer.

Overall we spent about an hour at the summit before beginning the journey down. The hike down was again fairly straightforward and we were at the bottom in short order. We made it back to the condo by about 3:30PM and were quickly back to our busy world but not before checking off number 49 of 67 on the New England 4000 Footer list!


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