“Still summer, still summer,” I chant as my breath strains despite my effort to breathe into the wheel. There have been rumors of the fall, actually, the winter coming.
The wheel at Sterling Pond
No one even mentions fall, it’s like that fraction of a millisecond, like a 1,000 years from the perspective of billions in the planet’s history. No, here in Vermont it goes straight to winter the rumors seem to suggest. “But it’s still summer,” I smile back, still summer, now! The days are long and hot, the nights are cool with bright full moons hovering lower than ever. Yes, I realize is barely an optical illusion. The water in the lakes and rivers is reaching its ultimate end of the day swim feeling. Views at the top are clear and far flung.
View from Mt. Mansfield, facing south.
View from Mt. Mansfield, facing north.
View from Elephant’s Head
It was hardly seven and the fog remained in power as I carefully began to make my way down Mansfield. The morning itself was glorious. A certain stillness and peace were present, the kind that could only exist after a storm. The descent took me all the way to the road and as always, right back up again. I was looking forward to Sterling Pond, hoping it would lead to an encounter with a moose. Instead I encountered Paul. Having gotten a late start, he was chatting with Dane, the Sterling Pond shelter caretaker. I was even more surprised then since Dane and I knew each other from a concert played by Phil Lesh and Friends several years ago. Paul and I continued on, hiking together, we had a similar schedule and pace, although I had a few more days allotted for the trip.
The day’s hiking was beautiful – again! The Long Trail is really a marvel of the natural world. As a trail used by dayhikers, backpackers, dog enthusiasts and with several roads leading right to it at some points and a number of side trails, it is nearly free of litter or any other sort of trail vandalism. Whiteface Mt. was our last peak of the day, enshrined in the high elevation forest I would surely miss.