Summer Hike

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A couple days ago, my daughter off at camp, my son and my spouse and I hiked up Camel’s Hump. It was a warm day, though cloudy, when we left the house. At the trailhead it felt cool, however. I was chilly when we started off. Of course, that is the perfect hiking weather. To start off a little cold means hitting the perfect temperature once one gets moving.

I have hiked Camel’s Hump too many times to count. I have come from every direction and hiked on every trail up there. The Long Trail crosses the summit and I have gone up and down that both ways. Back in the days when I ran much more I used to run a long loop up one side and down the other and back along the road by the river. That is still one of my favorite experiences. Point is, I have been up there a lot, and I still love it.

We saw only a few people. One hiker was going up the same way as us and a couple others were heading down. At the summit there was one man. His hiking poles (I won’t get into those here but hiking poles seem like an unnecessary accouterment for most people–I mean, do you really need them?) were tossed next to his pack. He was smoking, upwind on the sheltered side, so we either had to hang out in the wind or the nastiness. He was on the phone. The view was great but, given the circumstances, we did not linger.

We heard Bicknell’s Thrushes, three of them, which is always a rare treat, plus many other birds. There are lots of cones this year. The fir and spruce were laden. Looks like a good year to be a squirrel. The purple cones stood out against the blue of the clouds and the green of the new tree growth. The view up close was just as notable as the view off the summit.

Gravity helped us back down to the parking lot and we headed home for a late lunch, a little muddier, a little more tired and filled up with the wonder of a mountain I know well. You can’t hate a summer day like that.

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Fall Arrives

Yesterday we had one more shot of summer. It was hot, in the 80’s. Not so much today. Right now, with darkness settled over the house, rain falls.  It drips off the eave and taps the deck. It collects in the hollows of the field. It pools in the driveway and brushes the walls and trees. It is cool. Fall is here.

A couple of weeks ago I was fortunate to hike for three days on the long trail. It felt like fall up high. Leaves were starting to turn in spots. I had some heat but the nights were chilly. As the sun set on my first night, the last of the light caught a few maple leaves framed in the canopy. They were bright from the setting sun, and brighter still in their lack of chlorophyl.

Fall Framed in August

This rain is not unlike the rain I heard on my last night. As I climbed up and over Mount Mansfield (my first time up there in almost 20 years in Vermont), fog blew in. I did not get much of a view. I waited up there for an hour or so, and caught a few glimpses of the scene below, but mostly I saw white.

The "View" Northwest

That afternoon it rained a little here and there and then rained more heavily at night. I had thought that I might climb back up in the morning if it had cleared, but no go. So I headed down.

It rains again now, more heavily than when I started writing this. The nights are cooler. The days are shorter. Leaves change. Fall nudges summer out.

Canadian Smoke

Last night we slept out in our tent next to the house. As we had the previous two nights as well. Apparently, this has become a tradition of sorts. This makes three years in a row for that activity on Memorial Day weekend. I woke with a sore back to the smell of smoke. The smell was faint at first, but got stronger. It was not worrisome. It smelled like a neighbor had a fire lit to ward off the morning’s chill. The temperature hovered around 50 degrees last night.

It turns out there are a series of forest fires in Quebec. The northern wind has been blowing the smoke our way. It seemed misty this morning but the sun should have long since burned off that business. What lingers is smoke:

No View Today

Not Fog

We’ve got some poor air quality for this Memorial Day. The wind is forecast to shift later today, so things should clear at some point. Maybe in time for the parade in Vergennes late this morning. In the meantime, no panting allowed.

Shortest Day

It was hard to get up again this morning. Of course, I had stayed up late to watch It’s a Wonderful Life, the annual viewing that couldn’t be put off. And I did get up at 5:30. And it was dark on this solstice morning. But I did it, and was rewarded with bright stars and a good run, despite the dusting I got by a few passing cars. After I got home, the sky turned pink before the sun peeked over the mountains at about 7:40.

The sun stayed out most of the day. It was a cold one but it did get up to 23 degrees. Heat wave. It was bee-yoo-ti-ful in the afternoon, short as the afternoon was. The sun shone on the snow in the mountains. And the sky was clear. It was good for a peramble out into the field with my son. We ogled the view:

A Little Snow Close, A Lot of Snow Up High

Camel’s Hump was wearing her finest. Here is what she looked like a little closer:

Snow on the Hump

We followed some coyote tracks for a while. They were old and faded and disappeared on us. And we saw turkey tracks as well:

Prints in the Snow, Turkey

The days get longer every day now. I was envisioning, literally, running in the morning without a light. It will be nice to be able to run faster since I won’t be afraid of slipping on ice. It will be nice to not worry as much about being seen by drivers. It will be nice to see what is around me a little more. I love the darkness, and heck, I’ve got lots of it left. It will be a couple of months before I’m looking at brighter mornings at the hour I get up. The sun will rise again tomorrow. The days will go on. Happy solstice. Let’s celebrate some light.

Snow on the Ground

This morning it was snowing. It was kind of a bummer of a morning to fail to rally to get up early for a run, but my head was squeaking from all the pressure in my sinuses. I stayed in bed. There was white stuff on the ground, so we were all happy to look out and see it in the morning light. My son was literally jumping up and down in front of the window shouting, “My dream came true! My dream came true! It snowed last night! It snowed!” He was happiest to see the new precipitation it seemed.

It was coming down hard for a while, especially when it came time to drive. That was a bit of a snow and slippery event. Here is a shot of the scene before we fired up the old automobile:

Finally, some snow on the ground

By the afternoon, it had cleared. In fact, it was a stunning day. Check out Camel’s Hump, all decked out in her December finest:

Perfect December Day

Tomorrow we are looking to get some more weather. Snow is predicted to fall overnight and make morning driving a little sketchy again. We shall see. I never want to get excited for the possibility of a storm. I have been disappointed too many times. At least here. When we lived in the mountains we had the opposite situation–we would get lots of snow when only a little was forecast. But one can’t have it all. We never had the view above when we lived up high. I do hope we get more snow tonight. I will try to keep my fingers crossed, even when I am awake in the wee hours blowing my nose. Ah, winter.

Time on the Roads

I can’t say that I have had an easy time each morning I have risen to get a run in. Take this morning, for example. I was tired and fuzzy and hungry when I finally got out of bed, and let me tell you that was not quick process. It was dark. Clouds covered the early light and the half moon high in the sky. It was windy. I shuffled out of bed and changed into running duds. The temperature was 52 and thought, did I read that right? It was warm. So I put on shorts and long sleeves and slapped on a headlamp and a reflector vest and out I went.

My friend Pat, who is a fast enough runner to win now and again, once said to me, when I asked him how he keeps up the training pace, “There are many days when I just do not want to go for a run, but every time I do, I have a great experience.” What he meant was this: it may be hard to get started, but once you do get started, you won’t regret it.  That is pretty much spot on. Today was one of those days. Since it was dark, and the windows on the house are closed these days, I was imagining how cold it was going to be. It is November, and most dark mornings are cold. I recently ran when the temperature was in the 20’s.  This morning, however, was what you might call pleasant.

I had to use my headlamp for a bit. Cars and potholes make me cautious. But much of the way I ran in the almost-dark. It is a bit surreal at times to run when the wind blows and you can’t quite see what lies at the roadside–is that the shadow of a stump or a skunk?–and it is only you and your feet and your breathing and the road ahead. I  love that. A warm morning helps. I stopped for a couple minutes on the bridge over the river, to listen and to look at the shadowed water. It was, to use a word many shiver to utter, lovely.

I will keep doing it, this rising early to run. Some days I will go farther than others. Some days I will hop up eager to pull in some miles. Some mornings I will rise because I know I will be happy I do so even though I just don’t want to in that moment. But I rarely wish I hadn’t gotten up early to run. Only a couple of times have I been too preoccupied with my mental detritus that I would have been better off staying in bed for a while longer. But then again, I probably wouldn’t have slept anyway. In the end, I might as well just get up and go.

I am still wrangling with a bad cough and a bit a stuffed head. I look forward to that passing so I have a little more energy when I get out there in the wee hours, even if I haven’t had breakfast yet. Breakfast, by the way, tastes pretty good once you’ve already been outside for an hour or so. And who doesn’t like a good breakfast? I sit at the table, my mind clear and my muscles feeling good, and I look out at the view and look forward to the day. It may be hard to get up some days, but the time is well spent.

November View

November Morning at Breakfast

Visit to the Orchard

We took a trip to Shelburne Orchards this afternoon to pick some apples.  The place is beautiful and they almost seem to have more apples than they can handle.  We picked our fill pretty quickly.  Then we came home and ate two pies.  First, tofu pot pie for dinner (tastiest stuff ever–if tofu scares you, you should try this), then apple pie for dessert.  We ate the apple pie a little late–just before the children went to bed–but I could hardly say no to them after all the anticipation.  I had made the crust ahead of time, but still, it needs to bake for over an hour.  It was, as you might imagine, de-lish.  Worth the wait.  And we still have plenty of apples left over for tomorrow.  And the next day.

The Pick Your Own Welcome Shed

The Pick Your Own Welcome Shed

The View of Lake Chaplain

The View of Lake Chaplain

Apples Low

Apples Low

Apples High

Apples High

A Few Hours Later, Pie

A Few Hours Later, Pie