June 13, 2018

Mount Mansfield

The New England 67 is back on the radar!  After Katy and I completed our NH48 almost 6 (!) years ago, we have noticeably slowed down on our peakbagging adventures.  We managed to hike Killington Peak a few years ago, but nothing else that qualifies for a 4000 footer peakbagging list since.  I suppose the fact that we have 3 kids now might have something to do with it.  In any case, over a weekend in June, Katy's sister and her husband agreed to take the kids for a full two nights and we had ourselves our first full weekend to ourselves in a long time.  It was a great weekend that we spent in Stowe, VT, and while we were there, we managed to bag another peak!  Mount Mansfield.

Mount Mansfield is the highest mountain in Vermont, and generally known for its vast network of ski trails.  There are a number of hiking options as well, though, and we opted to head up via the Long Trail on the north side which is an out-and-back route about 5 miles in total.  The trailhead is also conveniently only a few hundred yards from the Stowe Mountain Lodge which is where we opted to stay for the weekend so we didn't even need to get in our car and just hiked straight out from our hotel room.  The first quarter mile or so of the trail from the trailhead is what looks like a brand new boardwalk highlighting nice views into Smuggler's Notch.  It is also counterintuitively on the east side of Rt 108 even though the peak is over on the west side.  This is because at the end of the boardwalk we encountered the road again and crossed over to the other side and into the woods from there.

The trail began a steady ascent from there with straightforward footing.  We passed by trail junctions for "Hellbrook Trail" as well as "Profanity Trail" wondering if those trail names represented the condition of the trails themselves or perhaps the state of mind that it induces on those who hike them?  We did not find out, though, as our route was to stay on the Long Trail.  We quickly made it to Taft Lodge which was just below tree line and then popped out above the trees, not far from the summit and with clear conditions.

The final ascent from the Taft Lodge was actually quite challenging with some difficult scrambles over steep rock ledges.  The weather was warm, but very gusty winds meant it was a good idea for the long sleeve layer.  We made it to the top nonetheless and were treated with perfect 360 degree views in all directions.  We could see Lake Champlain to our west and could see all the way to the White Mountains to our east.  It was very busy at the top with a lot of other people making the same trek to enjoy the day.  After having some lunch, we headed back down the way we came and before long were back at the Lodge having completed peak number 50 of the NE67!

Given our current constraints, the NE67 effort is a long game for us.  We will succeed though and get that next patch!  Until next time...

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