Having traveled just south of the Canadian border to Jeffersonville, Vermont for a wedding, we are staying at Nye’s Green Valley Farm B & B. Many of you may not know that Hannah was a B & B Innkeeper herself in the late 1980s with two rooms above our carriage house (well, truth be told it is our garage).
Even so, today is our first time staying at a B & B ourselves. For $95 we have a king-bedded (love the adjective!) room with a private bath and an all-you-can-eat breakfast. The room is spacious and includes 10,000 stations of Direct TV. The breakfast opens with fresh fruit, followed by blueberry pancakes made with applesauce, and then scrambled eggs.
With a trailhead on Route 15 just two miles away, the Long Trail predates the Appalachian Trail. Built by the Green Mountain Club between 1910 and 1930, the Long Trail follows the main ridge of the Green Mountains from the Massachusetts-Vermont line to the Canadian border. It was the inspiration for the Appalachian Trail…The Long Trail is 273 miles, well, long.
Though the weekend is to be stormy, we set out to hike a little after 9 AM, putting our faith in the forecast that any storms will arrive later in the afternoon. Hiking four tenths of a mile to the Lamoille River, we spot a white blaze directing us across the river plain. Stepping from rock to rock, we see where plants have been flattened by the rushing waters of the past week due to Hurricane Irene.
Over the river itself is a 100 foot pedestrian cable suspension bridge which can handle the biggest of storms. But the river plain below is much wider than 100 feet and it appears that this area has recently been under ten plus feet of water.
Crossing a dirt road, we pick up the white blaze trail that is sweet dirt and easy on the feet. Over the next mile and a half we will climb 1000 feet of vertical elevation to Prospect Rock.
Prospect Rock offers panoramic iconic Vermont views of forested peaks with farm land along the Lamoille River Valley. We hear the first distant rumbles of thunder. We hike on. We are so naïve.
Losing the trail briefly, we know that the major trails (Appalachian Trail and Long Trail) are so well-marked that if we don’t see a white blaze for a few hundred feet, we just double back until we see the last white blaze. In this case, we have missed a double white blaze that means a turn in the trail.
Having taken less than hour to climb to Prospect Rock and since the thunder is in the distance, we decide to hike on to give ourselves a three hour hiking experience. Ferns and small oaks bracket the trail as we ascend. Rumbles of thunder are not so distant and a blow down (a tree crossing the trail blown down by the recent hurricane) seems like a good turn-around point.
As we head back to the trailhead, we meet Bob, a Long Trail thru-hiker, who tells us he is just 50 miles from Canada. Likeable enough, he does complain about young hikers texting at the shelters.
And then we three all feel the first rain drops. We double time it under the oak and pine canopy. The thunder is overhead and the rain picks up in intensity. With Hannah in the lead, we are making excellent time, but it’s a fool’s errand to think we can outrun Mother Nature’s deluge. Soon every part of our bodies drenched. Rather than huddle under trees, which doesn’t seem too bright in a thunderstorm, we just keep run/walk hiking.
As quickly as it begins, the storm ends 25 minutes later and the sun reappears. Hiking a half mile back to our car, we then drive back to our B & B for showers and dry clothes. We’ll nap and arrive at the wedding to watch our son Will give a heartfelt toast to his college roommate Jerrod and his bride-to-be Danielle.
As always, when hiking, know thyself, thy limits, and the conditions. Be prepared if the forecast is not exactly what is predicted.