Day 2 time to tackle two more mountains on our list, Mount Mansfield and Camels Hump.
We woke up at 3:30 to hit the trail, we saw rain in the forecast and were trying to beat it, key word there trying.
We got to the trail head and it was still dark. We started towards the trail, and once again we would be climbing up a ski lift…YAY. Luckily about a 1/4 of the way up we found a switch back trail! This made the up hill longer, but easier; don’t get me wrong it was still steep, but more manageable. For any of you who find yourself struggling on the up hill, count your steps and try to make it further than you did last time before stopping. I know it sounds stupid, but it really does help!
Suddenly the sky opened up, and it started pouring! We ran for cover to put our rain covers on our packs and put our rain gear on. Shout out to Osprey, their packs come with rain covers that are easy to put on, and stay attached to the bottom of your pack so their impossible to lose! And for someone like me who would lose their head if it wasn’t attached, this is very important!
We countuined the slog to the top of the ski slope, the rain slowed down a bit, so it was quiet refreshing! On the way up, I was again behind; but the concerns of yesterday were gone. We were all going to make it to the top, so who cared if it took me a little longer! After a few hours, we made it to the top of the ski lift … now time to find the trail to the top of Mansfield!
We walked around the ski hut for some time, with no luck. It turns out we walked right passed it. Please note this is not an easy trail to find. When your coming up the switch backs it is on your left about 500 ft before the ski hut.
We started on the trail with just one problem….it was covered in snow. We did not plan for this, considering it was the end of May and 86 degrees out. We made our way through the snow trying to follow the trail markers/blazes, which presented a challenge, since most of the trail blazes were on the rocks that were covered by snow. Perk of being in the back, you get to see where other people post-holed and walk in other people’s steps! No post holing for me!
Suddenly we came up to a gorge that had a snowy slope up, that we assumed was a rocky “stair case” covered in snow:
We were wrong, oh so wrong. We started our way up the trail, Kicking a staircase in the snow on the way up with our hiking boots (oh how I wish we had crampons with us). When we got to the top of the snow mound we saw a small opening to our left … there wasn’t rock under the snow, in certain spots there was nothing but a foot or so of packed snow than a big drop underneath … a virtual snow bridge. My dad was standing right on top of the weakest part. While my dad is pretty experienced at mountaineering and can handle himself in these situations, he is still my dad, and I started to freak out. In these situations, freaking out is not an option, or you are going to hurt yourself and potentially someone else. You need to stay level headed and work through the scenario. My dad’s friend Bob, told me to breathe and focus on the steps I was taking. We slowly made our way down…step by step strategically planning every move.
We did it! We all made it out safe. We looked for another way up but it didn’t seem like there was a safe way, especially with the limited gear we had with us, so we turned and went back to our car. Even though we were less than a mile from the summit we were unable to make it. And while this was discouraging, if you ask any of us what our favorite part of the Vermont trip was, we would all tell you Mount Mansfield (or the maple bacon ice cream at Mad Hatters in Killington). It’s not always about summiting the mountain, it’s about the experience; and boy did we have an experience.
Now remember, I said walking in back is a bit of a perk, because you don’t post-hole. Well, on the way down I’m actually pretty fast, so I wasn’t in the back. Hip deep in snow, and all I could do was laugh. Figures I would have at least one spastic moment on the mountain.
If you ever find yourself in a stressful situation on a hike or climb don’t panic. Take a deep breath, focus on what you are doing, and trust your feet!
Ultimately, due to the thunderstorm warning, and the fear of similar conditions with snow, we decided to be safe, and not do Camels Hump. Don’t worry, we are already making plans to go a weekend during the fall to bag both Mount Mansfield and Camels Hump … when there is no snow.
Total distance: 18,436 steps (thanks fitbit), 7 miles
Elevation gain: 2,808 ft
Total time: 5 hours (including the time spent hunting for the snow-covered trail)
Also, I am starting to get more comfortable peeing in the woods.
What I wore:
Osprey Kyte 36: this is a perfect day pack To buy click here
Socks: Switched back to my smart wool, love these.
Colombia rain jacket: I have an old rain jacket, I really need to upgrade to a better jacket I got completely soaked.
Keen Detroit Mid (Steel toe) To buy click here