DF: We both slept very poorly last night. Since there was a large summer camp group on the tent platforms, we had to stay inside the lodge. We chose a bad space and ended up in the loft, where the roof sloped down to a few inches above our faces. I couldn’t get comfortable on my sleeping pad. And it was too warm inside–we should’ve opened some windows.
So we started the day tired and not really on top of our game. And we began with a two mile scramble to the top of Camel’s Hump with over 1400 feet of elevation gain. It took us two hours.
Once we got there, the view was spectacular–it’s another alpine summit, above tree line. We took some pictures and just hung out for a while, taking it all in.
We spent the next four and a half hours (plus an hour for a lunch break) steeply descending over 3600 feet in six miles. It was brutal. By the time we got to the bottom, we were completely wiped out.
While we were eating lunch, Ken called The Old Stagecoach Inn in Waterbury to see if they had a room (they were in the Long Trail guidebook). We spent more than thirty minutes trying to hitch a ride on a very not-busy road. We were finally picked up by a guy who works for the Green Mountain Club.
The Inn is adorable. The sign says it dates to 1826. We’re looking forward to breakfast on the deck, which is full of overflowing pots of petunias.
We showered, washed out socks, and headed out for groceries. We decided we needed a snack first, so we stopped at The Prohibition Pig, which specializes in craft beer and…eastern NC-style barbecue. We had pretzels and a couple of half-pours of VT beer. This state has some fantastic craft beers–and the best ones never leave the state, so it’s great to be here to taste them!
We found a great little market, bought groceries, brought them back to the room, and headed out to dinner. Our driver had recommended The Reservoir for beer and burgers–it was a perfect choice, with 25 taps of mostly VT beers (we had flights, so we could try a bunch of them).
The weather forecast calls for strong winds and thunderstorms the two days we were scheduled to climb and cross Mt. Mansfield, the highest peak in Vermont. It has long expanses of bare rock, and would be fairly dangerous in bad weather. We’ve decided to skip that section, and get back on the trail at Smuggler’s Notch tomorrow. Ken texted one if his Long Trail contacts to see if he knew of any shuttle providers. He called right away, offering to take us himself. So he’ll be here after breakfast to get us back on the trail.
BC: Very tough and steep two mile rock scramble to the summit of Camel’s Hump – I was totally wiped from the day before and dragged myself to the top. Great views at the summit made up for it. Camel’s Hump is the only undeveloped 4000 foot summit in Vermont.
Then we started down Bamforth Ridge, 4000 feet straight down rocks to the Winooski River. I think my curses are still echoing.
After many conversations with Vermonters about the inadvisability of hiking over Mansfield in a storm, we made the difficult decision to skip a 20 mile section and start the next morning at Smuggler’s Notch. We spent a lovely afternoon and evening in Waterbury, resupplying at the excellent Village Market and enjoying local craft beers at Prohibition Pig and The Reservoir restaurants. Then Brad, one of the Long Trail mentors who helped us prepare for this trip, volunteered to drive us to Smugs the next morning. He was able to tell us all about his hike on the Southern AT in Georgia and North Carolina, which was great since that’s our home hiking area. Thanks again, Brad!