Joel woke us up at some ungodly hour (as usual). So we were out of the house by 6:30am and at the trailhead by 10:30. It would have been earlier but we couldn't find the trailhead. Our map had it in the wrong place. We ended up going to the ranger station to get directions. The ranger was really nice and told us where to go and gave us another map that was more current (if a lot less detailed). We also partook of real flush toilets for the last time in a couple of days. The trailhead had a sign, which told us it was 7.3 miles to Bourne Pond and 9.2 miles to Stratton Pond. We were going to try for Stratton Pond if my knee would hold out. The trail for the first four miles was wide. Though it was distinctly uphill it was reasonably well graded. The sides of the trail were covered in rivers of moss. Most of the streams were running and I began to wonder why we were carrying enough water to get us to Bourne Pond.
At about 2.3 miles there was a branch in the trail and a sign pointing to "Falls". We looked at our maps and debated whether the extra mile was worth it to see the falls. We decided to go for it and dropped our packs. Only taking the camera. It was more than worth the hike. You never know what such falls will be like, some are mere trickles that aren't worth hiking to and some, like this one, are just spectacular. When we got to the falls, there was another couple there from New Jersey. They hiked up just for the falls. After getting our Kodak moments, we headed back to our packs.
We stopped for lunch at 1:10 after only 3 miles (plus 1 for the side trip). We chowed down on bagels, smoked clams and cheddar. At lunch I decided the mosquitoes were too annoying and I slathered my body with Blocker. They quit biting me after that.
At around 4-5 miles the character of the trail changed. Instead of a wide trail with ferns and lady slippers as a carpet, we got hobble bush and black berries. And it narrowed down so we had to push our way through. Our upper thighs developed small little cuts from the thorns. Ouch!
We were having trouble figuring out exactly where we were. We were too used to the scale of orienteering maps . . . and too used to their accuracy. Our maps were only a basic approximation of reality. It is not that we were lost we always knew where we were to within a mile and there were no other trails to get lost on, but it was fun trying to figure where we were with only the trail direction and steepness to tell us. The forest was too thick to use distant landmarks.
We finally arrived at Bourne Pond at 4:00. My knee was starting to get sore, but without my pack on it was fine. I figured it could handle that last 3 miles to Stratton Pond. We found the box spring and filtered some water, then I took some more Aleve. Bourne Pond was lovely. You could see the pond from the tenting site. It had a few floating bogs near the shore and I could make out the flowers of some pitcher plants. I almost wanted to stay there because it was empty and lovely, but one we went. Our maps from the Topos CD program were quite inaccurate between Bourne and Stratton Pond. There was a jag in the trail that no longer exists. When we started straight up the hill from Whinhall River we brought out our other maps to check them. The ranger's map and the AT map both showed it going straight up the hill with no jag. The topo maps are quite out of date in some areas.
We were quite happy . . . and tired when we finally came to the pond. We followed the signs to the tenting area. It had an outhouse. There were two other groups that we saw. Red Turtle was hiking the Long Trail for 30 days. And there was a family from Vermont that had hiked in with their 3 and 5 year olds.
We looked around and found our own private spot out of sight of the others and set the tent. Joel went down to the pond to filter water and I started dinner. I used a homemade alcohol stove and I had tested it at home, and it did OK. Here it headed water very fast. I guess it was the increased airflow since the rock it was on was not flat and let air in all around the bottom. Dinner was anglehair pasta flavored with southwestern hamburger helper seasonings and some Fantastic Foods taco mix thrown in. It was quite yummy and I wanted more. So I made some tomato and rice soup and ate some more breadsticks. For dessert we a a few Mike and Ikes.
After dinner we cleaned up the pot and cup I ate out of. We packed up the food into our bear canister (I hate hanging food.) and strolled down and talked to the other two groups that were around. We told Red Turtle about the beautiful falls and me might hike down to Manchester Center that way. We gave him some extra maps to show him the way. He told us about other times that he has hiked the trail. He did a complete Long Trail hike 40 years ago. He said one week back then he didn't see a single other person on the trail. That would be almost impossible in the summer nowadays.
We go back to our tent about 8pm and crawled in. Joel wanted to go right to sleep but we both stayed up reading until the light faded.
This morning we tried to be slow about getting up. It was our easy day. We just had to hike up Stratton Mountain (3 miles, 1300 feet up) before noon so we wouldn't get hit by the afternoon thunderstorms that were predicted. So we got up slowly. There were light clouds that burned off quickly. Breakfast was (as usual) oatmeal and hot chocolate. We took a while getting packed up. Our belt pouches didn't hold enough water so I strapped a 2 liter platapus to my belt pouch. We got off at about 9am. The walk around Stratton Pond to the AT/LT was beautiful. The small mountain laurels were in full bloom, their pink blossoms littered the trail. We also saw a blue iris and some pitcher plants in bloom. Once on the AT/LT there was a short downhill then up. First an easy up, then it got steeper then even steeper. I went quite slow but had a great time. The forest in the steepest parts was enchanting. Moss covered the ground and wood sorrel in full bloom covered that. It even grew up the sides of old trees. In amongst the sorrel were ferns and lady slipper plants. This place must be spectacular in May when they are all in bloom. As it was, there were berries covering a lot of the lady slippers.
On the way up we ran into a lot of people. Yesterday we met no one on the trail. Today I quit counting at 10. Many were AT thru-hikers. One couple that we talked to for a while, thru-hiked to Harper's ferry, then flipped up to the whites. Today they were slack packing North to Rte 11. Another man we met was studying a rare bird. He works 4am-9pm everyday but Fridays, with only 2 hours off during the days. Seems like nice work though the hours would be murder.
At the top of the mountain the only views were at the top of the fire tower. And the view was spectacular, too bad it was so hazy. Joel brought up our jackets so we wouldn't freeze in the strong wind.
Then we ate a lunch of cheese, summer sausage, crackers and Oreo's. Yum! I was starving and after lunch I was still hungry. When I stood up afterwards my joints protested. They had gotten stiff from sitting so much, so we popped some more Aleve.
I flipped through the register at the top. It was a fill in the blank style, so no fun comments from the hikers. I noticed many of the names that I had seen in the Mount Williams register a week ago when we climbed Mount Greylock.
The sky started getting grayer so we headed back down the mountain. The sun peeked in and out of the clouds all the way down. Going up we went around Stratton Pond to the north side, coming back we went on the south side. We stopped at Vondell Shelter to take a peek. They have a sign on it saying it is getting torn down. It is right on the shore of the lake and is having too much of an impact on the fragile lake sore environment. Not far past the shelter we met a forest service employee. He was taking phosphorus readings of the streams. Stratton Pond was having random algae blooms and they wanted to determine why it was happening.
After getting back, we hopped into the lake to cool off our feet. Neither of us were willing to get all the way in. Especially since the wind had picked up. We were going to filter our water here, but had kicked up too much muck from the bottom. So we went a little ways up the path to the stream and filter there.
Back at camp we picked up our gear. The sky had gotten darker and we were afraid of the rain. We also set up the tarp. Then the sun came out again. We ended up moving the tarp to the side so it would be easy to put up if it actually rained. The sun continued to its in and out game as we heard thunder in the background.
We got our dinner in before the storm hit at about 7:30. We ran into the tent and read until dark.
We woke up around 6:00am and it was still raining. We had breakfast under the tarp. During the breaks in the light rain we broke down camp and were out on the trail at about 8am. The trail was wet from all the rain, but the mud was soft on our aching feet. I kept my rain pants on for a short time but couldn't stand sweating in them so took then off. The wet foliage soaked my nylon pants, but it was much more comfortable. It mostly didn't rain much, just on and off a bit.
We followed some very recent moose tracks in the morning. They were made within just the last couple of hours so I was keeping my eyes open, but to no avail. It must have gone by earlier in the morning.
We played leapfrog with Red Turtle on the trail. We would stop to take photos and he would pass us then he would be taking a break and we would pass him.
The walking was easy, fairly flat and the mud cushioned our steps until that is we got on Old Rootville Road, a jeep trail. The dirt was packed hard as a rock. Ouch! Each step was agony.
After a mile on the road we got to Prospect Rock, an overlook that had marvelous views of Manchester. We ate lunch there admiring the view. As we were leaving we met Red Turtle again and told me to go see the view. He had lunch there like we had but not long after we left it started raining again. We hoped he got a nice lunch before the rain.
At Prospect Rock the AT/LT turns back into the woods and the jeep road starts its quick decent. Unfortunately we had to follow the road, it was our way out.
The hard road and the very steep downhill were very hard on our feet. I went very slowly so as not to injure my knee. When we were almost out there was a nice falls, rock at an angle with the water pouring over it. While I was photographing it Red Turtle caught up. We ended up walking the last part of the road out together.
We finally hit pavement at 1pm. It was 1 1/2 more miles on pavement to the car. It went relatively quickly.
Unfortunately when we got to our car our window had been smashed in and all our clothes had been taken.
We figured afterwards they must have see the camera bag - though we had our camera with us.
The ranger had left a note on the car telling us when it had happened (on Thursday our first night out). We went to the police station, but no one was there to take our statements. We will have to go back.
Then we went to the Inn at Ormsby Hill where we would stay for the next few days. they let us a vacuum cleaner to clean up all the broken glass. Then also gave us some plastic to cover the window.
We were dirty, sweaty and had no clean clothes but we were in Manchester Center, outlet city. So off we went with credit cards in hand to buy come clean clothes.
We got a few strange looks with us so grungy, but we succeeded then went back to the inn to clean up.
After our showers we made reservations for 7:30 at Ye Old Tavern. We showed up at 7:15 and they sat us down right away, which was good since I was tired. The tavern is an old historic building that was built in the 1700s. The food was quite good and the atmosphere nice, but I was too tired to appreciate it. Luckily the service was fast. So we could get back to our room.
And our room was gorgeous, a little small for all the furniture, but just beautifully decorated.
The room had a gas fireplace (but the remote was missing, I guess they don't want you turning it on in the summer), and a whirlpool tub. There was a CD player with appropriate romantic music CDs. And a candle by the whirlpool tub. There are no TVs in the rooms. I guess because it would spoil the atmosphere of romance. They do have a little back lounge upstairs in the inn with a TV and a small fridge for all the guests to use.
The Ethan Allen room (our room for our first night) is not connected to the main part of the inn by any hallways. The door goes out to a small deck overlooking a beautiful back yard. We only stayed in that room for one day, then moved the next day to the Taft room. I liked the decor of the Ethan Allen room better but the Taft room was much nicer. It had its own sitting room, a nicer jacuzzi, a two person shower that also doubled as a steam room. Very nice.
Anyway the next morning I had the hot breakfast. It was a bread pudding with eggs, ham, cheese and mushrooms. I had heard that Chris (Chris and Ted were the two innkeepers) was a good cook and indeed it was great.
After breakfast we read a while in the room then went off for lunch at the bakery (yummy). Then saw a movie, Small Time Crooks. It was hilarious. We shopped around a bit after the movie and stopped at the Old Game Store. Joel was shocked at the store. It was a great game store. It had most of the German games we loved. We talked to the owner and she gave us some recommendations for new games. We were hopping to replace our deck of Lost Cities cards that had been in our stolen luggage, but no luck there.
On the way home I told Joel that I didn't feel like a fancy meal and didn't feel like going out, so we stopped at Harrington's and bought some crackers and cheese and some chips and salsa to snack on tonight. We also stopped right next door at Mother Myricks. They were making their butter crunch and it made the whole store smell like heaven. So of course we had to buy some. And was it good. Yum Yum.
Back at our room we snacked on Vermont salsa and chips and played games.
Breakfast was wonderful as usual, French Toast but at least 2" thick. We didn't stay for dessert. I keep forgetting that every breakfast comes with dessert.
This morning we went back to the police station and filed a report. The gal that was there couldn't understand why the guy there the other day didn't take our statements. Then we spent quite a while at the local bookstore, which is quite nice.
For lunch we stopped at the Buttery. It had mediocre food, but the stores inside the Jelly Mill (where the Buttery is located) were a lot of fun to shop in. We got a few knick-knacks for the kiddies and some more food for tonight. Joel and I both liked eating in the night before so got more food so we could eat in again tonight.
This afternoon we toured Hildene, a mansion that was built by Robert Todd Lincoln. It was a fun diversion and the views from the garden were wonderful.
Then it was back to our rooms where we tried our new game Spy Alley. Joel had gotten all the items he needed to win first, but I guessed his identity so I won. It was a strange but fun game that could be a blast with lots of people.
We checked out after a lovely breakfast and some nice conversation with some of the other guests. I'd love to come back sometime when Joel is not so preoccupied by getting our car broken into.
This web page (http://www.gouldhome.com/Vermont.html) was last updated on July 13, 2000.
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Contents copyright © 1999-2003 by Joel and Daphne Gould.