Brian and Greg had some Vermont 3k's in mind, and it was long past time to get together. Hiking the Long Trail to pick up 3 peaks sounded fine to me, it was supposed to be a viewy day, and a couple peaks were supposed to indeed, be viewy. Special bonus points for being only 1.5 hours from home.
I left my car at Middlebury gap and we drove over forest roads to Brandon Gap, which were thankfully good driving for mid-December. It was cold, and of course, my hands froze up immediately, but the climb up to “The Great Cliff”was steep and thus got me warmed up quickly. It reminded me of the Kinsman Notch Trail coming off of Rt. 112, but thankfully there was a little break around the middle.
We came to the side path and picked our way around ice in the trail to said cliff. It was plenty nifty, especially in the morning light. Here's Corporation and Round in the midground, Rochester at back left, and Smarts (one of my favorite NH peaks) just poking up between the two.
In the other direction, a nice little view to the town of Brandon.
Off to our next destination, not a 3k peak per se, with only about 100' of prominence, but the name was well worth it. Mt. Horrrrrrrrrrid!
The woods were a bit thick, but probably not horrid. Ah well. Onward. Next up, 3k #1, Cape Lookoff. It was a nice ridge walk.
We got some ok views along the way to keep things interesting, too. Too bad my polarizing filter sucks with the big blue blob.
The super zoom, however, does not suck. This is the red barn barely visible above.
The summit was right after this view, a bumpy little bugger. Speaking of bumpy, the trip after this was interesting. I know so little about Vermont peaks, and all the bumps on the ridges had me fairly clueless as to where we were exactly, despite having a good map. It just made it more wild feeling, exploring completely unknown territory. So much so, that I mistook Abraham for Moosilauke, despite the fact it had to be way too close. Oh well.
Bump, bump, Gillespie. #2 for the day. Bump, bump, Greg the Bump Whore joked, or not, about wanting Romance Mtn. No thanks. I had a time constraint. I don't think Brian was into it, either. We descended and saw Worth way out there. Oof, still a long ways to go, and a big drop down to 2450'. The woods turned into beautiful hardwoods and at one point I was laughing so hard I couldn't keep my footing. Fogizzle!
Finally hitting the bottom, we came to the shelter and trail junction, the latter a rare commodity. Finally heading up to Worth, an 800' climb, we had a look back from whence we came. Gillespie is just left of center, and Cape Lookoff is the peak just right of the tree trunk. Yowzah.
We were treated to yet another bump, and kept chugging upward, but the grade was decent for the most part. Honestly, I don't even remember Worth, other than thinking it was finally all downhill. Ummm, check yer map, dummy, three more bumps to go. We did have more views along the way at least, including Whiteface over in NY.
FINALLY, we came to the last bump, and then to the top of the ski area with a view to the long ridge of Braintree Mountain.
We took a chilly break here, and things got interesting again. The Long Trail crossed the ski trails many times, and we had to keep our eyes peeled for the blazes to see where the trail re-entered the woods, which was not an easy task in places. Near the bottom, we came to the only slope open, and Brian swears he saw snow bunnies. Greg and I think his definition might be a bit too generous.
We came to the car at an amazing 1:30, only 5.5 hours after we left, which shocked me given the 10.1 mile distance, and as I found out later, 3100 feet of gain. I expected to be dragging ass but was able to keep up with the hardcore dudes. My wife was a bit shocked when I rolled in at 3 PM, and it was good to have some time to relax before my evening engagement. Great day, great hike, great friends.