Tag Archives: nature

Camel’s Hump!

“Were you guys cold last night? ‘Cuz I was fuckin’ freezing!” Paul and I were the last two in the shelter when the caretaker flew in, making sure to shut the door behind him. The temperatures dropped into the low 30’s and everyone did their best to remain in their sleeping bags for as long as possible. Paul and I won. We started out hiking together but when we came across the first mass of rock to be climbed, I couldn’t help but allow my camera to hold me back. The climb up to Camel’s Hump, a signature peak of the Long Trail, blossomed into a most heart capturing trek with each step. There was no shortage of flat, vertical rock faces, fragrant pine and views of seemingly endless Green Mountains. Best of all, the approach angle allowed the grey, bald hump to remain sight for the entire duration of the hike.

Camel's Hump in the Distance

A sign for the summit appeared and I was overwhelmed with joy and sunshine. Everyone talks about Camel’s Hump. It’s a beautiful hike from any angle that leads to a 360° view of the Adirondacks and even New Hampshire’s mountain range. It also represents a new stage of the Trail. If you’ve made it this far, you should pat yourself on the back. For weeks, this summit seemed elusive at best and here I was, not a cloud in the sky!

At the Summit!

Burnt Rock and Other Mountains in the Rain

Paul and I left well after Zoey and Sampson did. Today was the precursor to Camel’s Hump, one of only three alpine summits in Vermont. On our way up to Burnt Rock Mt. we passed an orientation group of incoming freshmen from the University of Vermont. It is hard to believe that college was just a year ago yet felt eons away.

The skies were grey and promised rain. The day promised to be a short one and there was little doubt in my mind that we would make it to the shelter before the weather turned for the worst. In began to drizzle as Paul and I navigated the bare surface of mountain. I briefly thought about the danger of being on such an exposed slab of stone in a thunderstorm but still asked Paul to pose as a for-scale-object in a photograph atop Burnt Rock.

Paul on top of Burnt Rock Mt.

Shortly after we heard Samson’s whining and picked up the pace in case something had happened to either him or Zoey. He just didn’t want to go any further. We did our best to usher the lab onto the slippery ledge until Paul scooped him up in his arms and lifted him on it. We continued along as the rain came down light and steady. Then we saw the ladder. After some failed tries to finding another way down for Samson, a plan was devised. We would create a harness from rope and Samson’s doggie pack and lower him down about 12 feet. At this point he wouldn’t even come near the ledge! Paul seized him once again and gently lowered him to Zoey while I held the rope slack. Fortunately, the “harness” snapped at a low enough point!

Ladder Ravine

After one more climb we made it to Montclair Glen, a fairly new shelter that still smelled of pine. Being the first in that afternoon, we had some time to get to know each other as the shelter filled with hikers from all walks of life.

One More Day ‘Till Camel’s Hump!

My camera is back!

I left early in the morning for another town day in Waitsfield. The road gap was less than three miles away and I was standing with my thumb out before noon. This route had a high speed limit and a number of cars whizzed by before a man in a white Mercedez first drove by and then put his vehicle in reverse. He was a southern gentleman to say the least! Visiting Vermont on family related business, the Virginia native talked about his daughter’s Ironman pursuits and the beauty of the very green state we were in. He dropped me off at the post office and then town routine ensued: pick up package, eat, resupply, library, eat and hitch a ride back. Usually there’s also laundry involved but my still smelled like Tide. Well, no, it didn’t but it wasn’t offensive and I didn’t have any clothes fit for a pubic space to change into so I let it be. It was a long walk from the grocery to the library, however well worth it. Not only was the library in a beautiful, old building but the librarian was very kind and let me use the outlets to charge up my electronics. Paul also found his way into town and we ran into each other at the library. It was nice to see him, especially since I was a little concerned about how long it would take him to get a ride. We decided to hitch back together and he went back into town to do grocery shopping while I continued to click away. As I was getting up to head downtown, a man offered me a ride to the trailhead once he saw my pack! I had to decline since I promised Paul to meet him in front of the market. Once there, we joked about the weight of our packs while downing some ice cream. Paul told me he made a friend at the Waitsfield Inn and we inquired if a ride to the trailhead was possible. Indeed it was and we had a lovely conversation with John, the innkeeper who told us of his California woes and how much he was enjoying his family’s recent move to Vermont. The hike to Birch Glen shelter felt over before we knew it but not without a most stunning view of Camel’s Hump in the sunset. At the shelter we were greeted by Sampson and his owner, Zoey. The night unfolded with great company.

Camel's Hump

Stars From Stark’s Nest

I spent most of the day on top of Mount. Abraham with Adam, the caretaker. When I say most, I mean I was there until about 3:30PM. Giving myself a month to do the trail meant that I could afford such time related luxuries. I finally decided to move on when another north bounder, Paul, passed through. We cruised for a few miles on Lincoln Mt. and made our way to Stark’s Nest, a warming hut for the Mad River Glen ski area that remains open in the summer for hikers. The hut was well maintained, clean and cozy. The Adirondack chairs contributed to the over-the-top luxurious feel of this great smelling, wood structure. Paul set up his tent outside while I shared the indoor space with two section hikers.

The stars were out and bright that night. From the top of the mountain it was easy to see far into the valley, the lights of homes strung together like Christmas tree garlands. It is hard to imagine even when seeing it all before your eyes that there’s an entire world where no one is unrolling their sleeping bags or inflating mattress pads or using a tiny propane stove to cook dinner. Removed from it all, the chill of the night settled in quickly. The night was the coldest yet.

Skyline Lodge

Hum of a fly


as it hovers and lands on my leg.

Not a cell phone, vibrating.

A dragonfly woosh-es by and

a hummingbirds’ wings whirl.

Clouds promising a storm

peacefully pass and reveal

mountains in the distance.

Below, the pond reflects

blue-green branches of

black spruce.

Green lily-pads, flowering,

quietly float on the surface.

First yellow leaves

dot the still water.

Still waiting for a moose.