I was going to take the day off from running, but after all the cake I ate last night, I had to get out there.
When I got up this morning and headed out in the Jeep, the fog was low in the valley with the mountaintops peeking out from the white layers.
I drove into town and considered running on the Johnson State College campus, but I ultimately decided to park next to the Lamoille Valley Rail Trail. After the cross-country I did all last week, it was kind of nice running on a more consistent, level path.
Plus it doesn't hurt that the trail often runs along the river.
After completing my run, I drove back to the campground. I threw out some options for the day - we definitely wanted to do something active and outside as today was predicted to be the best of the next few.
Linda selected the short hike to Prospect Rock which is just west of Johnson. The trail is part of the Long Trail which runs 272 miles from the southern border of Vermont all the way to Canada.
We parked just north of the foot bridge that carries Long Trail hikers over the Lamoille River, and then walked down onto the bridge for some photos.
Then we turned back, crossed the road and continued on the Long Trail.
The trail starts out steep and then turns into a gentle ascent before leveling out through the middle section. The last part of the hike then turns steep again as it finishes off the 500-foot plus climb. Sources I read gave distances of three quarters of a mile up to a mile to Prospect Rock, an outcropping on some cliffs that can be seen from Hwy 15.
The rock provides a great view out over the Lamoille River Valley.
While we were there, we met locals Doug & Jackie. They took photos of us on the edge of the rock, ....
and we engaged in a lengthy conversation. Jackie said that just yesterday they were talking about getting an RV and traveling the country.
They had several questions and, by the end, Jackie said that our meeting today was kismet. :)
Shortly after they departed, two ladies arrived and I used their camera to take a picture of them. Heidi and Hound Dog (trail names) are section hiking the Long Trail one day-hike at a time. They haven't spent a single night on the trail and seemed to be having a great time just going out when they get a chance. We chatted with them a little while and gave them a business card as well.
We had a little lunch, and then walked back down to the Jeep which was parked in a gravel area off of Hog Back Road a little west of Ithiel Falls Camp.
Back on Hwy 15, we continued west following the Lamoille River through the towns of Jeffersonville and Cambridge. In Jeffersonville, we stopped at Vermont Canoe & Kayak to get information about the river and other places to paddle. For those that like to combine activities, they have a "Kayak & Cocktails" tour, a "Water & Wine" tour, and an "Ice Cream Float". They were very helpful in providing information.
Continuing on, we stumbled up the Boyden Valley Winery. We stopped in for a wine tasting. It's $11 and you can taste seven of anything on their wine and cider menu and keep the souvenir glass.
Since I don't like wine, I stuck with the ciders and cremes. Linda enjoyed and purchased a variety:
- Big Barn Red - "A bold, heavy-bodied, dry Bordeaux-style red wine with overtones of cassis and black raspberry."
- Glogg - "A mulled spiced wine made from a traditional Swedish recipe. Serve heated with sliced almonds and raisins. A great wine for the holidays and winter."
- Cowtipper - "A fresh and fruity, semi-dry white table wine, similar to Riesling. Excellent as a summer wine with hints of apricot and pear."
- Vermont Ice Maple Creme - "Rich and smooth with a robust maple flavor. Amazing on ice, in cocktails and with coffee."
I didn't really love anything, but I could drink the Glogg, the Maple Creme, and the Vermont Hard Cider which tasted like apple champagne.
Oh, it was also "Sangria Saturday" so everyone got an extra taste of sangria.
My input was to purchase their Gourmet Cheese Plate to go. This thing includes five artisan cheeses, fresh bread, dates, thinly sliced salami, and chocolate. We were on our way up to Smuggler's Notch for another hike, so I figured I could carry it in my daypack, and we could enjoy it after we climb up to Sterling Pond.
They didn't charge us for the wine tastings. I suppose that was because we didn't want the souvenir glasses and we bought four bottles and a cheese plate.
We took Vermont 108 up to Smuggler's Notch. Signs warn the five miles through the notch are not suitable for trucks, buses, and RVs, but, in my opinion, they should be more insistent. On one side of the notch, there is a sign showing a 14% grade. On the other side, it's a 16% grade. And there are curves where I'm not sure two regular sized cars could pass. Plus it is a very popular place to hike, so lots of cars were parked with two tires a foot or two out into the road. DO NOT trust your GPS if it takes you through this pass in your RV.
Starting this month, truckers are being fined $2,000 for the first offense if they get stuck and require extrication. There is a $165 fine just for ignoring the signs. Between 2 and 10 trucks a year have gotten stuck in the notch since 2009, and recently a trailer had to be cut up to get it out. I don't know if these fines will be applied to RVs, but they should be.
Anyway, we parked our Jeep across the road from the Sterling Pond trailhead.
The hike is one mile up the mountain to where it intersects with the Long Trail. It's then a tenth of a mile down to the highest trout pond in the state.
Interestingly, dogs are not required to be on a leash though signs recommend circumstances where they should be leashed. Of course, the recommendations were ignored, and there were a lot of dogs on this steep little trail. The dogs were well-behaved, but there were a few piles of dog crap right on the trail. If you aren't going to pick up after your dog, at least get a stick and get it off the trail. Sheesh.
So, this trail starts out very steep and climbs up over rocks as it continues up with an 880 foot elevation change. Looking down the trail at hikers making their way to the parking area.
It seemed daunting, but it really wasn't all that bad. There were just enough breaks between the steeper parts to keep the ascent from being too grueling.
We eventually reached the Long Trail intersection.
There were quite a few people coming and going from the pond, so we didn't expect a quiet experience. But it was quite pretty and worth the one-mile hike.
Almost everyone we asked on the way up said the hike was worth it. Only one guy said "Not at all - it's just water". :)
Now, I'm not sure it would have been worth a two-mile hike up a mountain, but it was quite nice.
We sat on some rocks and enjoyed our cheese, fresh bread, fruit, and chocolate. The hunk of Gouda cheese combined with the dates was outstanding. We took in the scenery and watched the people and dogs interact.
Around 5:00, we headed back down. We had way too much bread and gave it to a Long Trail thru-hiker who was quite appreciative.
With Linda's bum knees, the down was only slightly faster than the up as she had to navigate some of the taller, wet rocks.
It took us about 50 minutes to get to the bottom. I was proud of her. We hiked about four miles and I wouldn't consider any of it easy. Hopefully her knees will be okay tomorrow.
We had a great day. Sandwiching some wine tasting/shopping between hikes may be just the ticket to keep Linda hiking with me. :)
Tomorrow is a work day. I've got to get the 2017 RV-Dreams Spring Educational Rally registration opened. It's supposed to be cloudy, and I can work while watching the finish of the Women's British Open and the PGA Championship and looking out at the mountains through my office window. :)