Those of you who have been following my blog know that this isn’t the first time that I have tried to tackle the VT5. Last memorial day we attempted to summit Mount Mansfield and the snow was unpassable, leaving us less than a mile away from the summit, standing on a narrow ice bridge with no choice but to turn around. We had no intention of letting this happen again!
After sitting in traffic for over 6 hours the Friday before Memorial Day, we finally arrived at our hotel at midnight; just in time to get a quick 4 hours of sleep before waking up early to tackle the last two mountains of the VT5 (Mount Mansfield and Camels Hump). We woke up, ate a quick instant oatmeal (love the microwaves in the room), packed up, and hopped in the car feeling optimistic. We began our drive to Mount Mansfield, the tallest mountain in Vermont at 4,395 ft. We pulled up to the Hellbrook trail, which is the shortest but steepest way up and honestly looked like a lot of fun. We were trying to tackle Mansfield and Camels hump, and then drive the 6 hours home all in one day, so it seemed like the best option.
We put on our boots and headed to the sign in book….and that is when we had a sense of Déjà vu. The sign in book had a note from the person who had done the hike the day before, recommending not to take on this hike…. stating that the condition near the top were snowy and dangerous. After reading this we decided that it was best for us to find another route to the top, we were not about to put ourselves in the same position we were in just 12 months before. We hopped in the car and looked for another trail head. We had read that there was another trail called the long trail that you could take a toll road up to the trail head, this is not ideal and not typically the route that we would take….but what choice did we have, it was the nearest trail head to where we were. When we got there, the toll road was closed. Yet another setback, but we came to Vermont to accomplish something and you can be sure that we were going to do everything in our power to get it done.
Third times was a charm, we found a hiking trail about an hour away, so we headed towards the Underhill State Park. When we finally got there we felt a sense of relief as we pulled in to the parking lot and we were not the only car. (Heads up this is a popular hike and the lot fills up quickly so get their early if you can.) We regained our sense of optimism; we were going to summit Mount Mansfield!!! We took the CC Road for about .9 miles, before turning off on to the Sunset Ridge trail.
This hike was much more enjoyable then the steep Ski Trails we tried last year to Summit Mansfield. After turning off the CC road it’s a 2.1 mile walk to the summit. The first part of the trail is a path through a nice forest, then the trail opens up to a rocky exposed ridge. The views are incredible you can see the summit itself and on a clear day (which we had) you can see the ADKS (home). The trail meets up with the long trail which you then take to get to the summit. At about .2 miles from the summit the path opens up, giving you a 360 degree view. I promise you the amount of pictures I took are ridiculous, and for those who follow me on Instagram I am sure that you are all sick of seeing them. But here are few:
At this point I see this amazing sign with an arrow and the word ‘Summit” I could not hold my excitement, this is the closest we had ever been to the summit and there was no doubt in mind that we were going to make it!!!! We took these wooden planks to the top and we were there!!!! Time to enjoy a quick snack, before heading down.
On the way down we saw a sign for the Laura Cowles trail, which was .6 miles shorter down to the CC road. Knowing that we were on a time crunch we decided to take this path down. Being shorter the trail was much steeper, we worked our way down slowly.
In hindsight it would have been easier to go down the trail we had came up, but hey you live and you learn. We heard from some hikers who were on their way up, that the Laura Cowles trail is a very popular trail up the mountain and then take the Sunset ridge trail down, I recommend if you are planning on doing this hike to take that route. When we reached the car, we gave each other celebratory fist bumps; we had finished the trail, and climbed our 4th 4,000 footer in VT. Now time to tackle the last one Camels Hump!!
Length: 5.6 miles
Elevation gain: 2,536
Camel’s Hump is the third tallest mountain in VT at 4,083 ft. The first mile of the hike has a slight elevation gain, but then the steepness increases for the balance of the hike. I could feel myself dragging a little up the mountain, which I am not going to lie can be a little defeating, but I didn’t stop. I kept going one foot in the front of the other, remembering that is not a sprint its marathon, with the summit the ultimate goal. At about 2.1 miles the trail opens up to a clearing, which was filled with people, it was a popular day on the mountain. At this point, the trail turns to the right and you take the last .3 miles up, which is the steepest part of the hike, but you get to clear the tree line and see an amazing view of the VT green mountains.
When we got there, the summit was crowed with people, music, and beer it was literally like a little party at the top. We stayed for about 15 mins having a quick snack and making friends with some of the dogs at the top, before going back down the burrows trail to the car. You take the same trail down as you did up, it’s a fairly easy walk out.
Length: 5 miles
Elevation gain: 2,349
Vermont is such a beautiful state, and we are now officially members of the VT5 club (I’m number 34 … it’s my first hiking patch)! 1 state down on the Route to the NE115 3 more left. But don’t worry, we will be back. We still want to take the Hellsbrook path up to the top of Mansfield, but maybe next time we will wait until July to allow the snow to melt!
Total steps for the Day: 34,755 steps (thanks Fitbit)
Ice Cream Reward: Maple Ice cream with M&M’s on top (for those of you who don’t know, it is a personal requirement that I have ice cream after every hike)