So back on Friday December 3rd I had the duties of dropping off my parents at the airport for an early bird flight. I took advantage of some lingering PTO at work and took the day off. I was originally thinking to continue on up 91 to the good ol standby Mt.Monadnock, but after recommendation from Surf and details from Rage, I made plans to head up to VT for the first time and check out Mt.Equinox.
I packed everything up the night before and hit that sack early. The alarm went off at 3:30am and I enjoyed a nice breakfast while my parents finished up the last minute preps and checks for their flight. We hit the road around 4:30 for a nice quite ride up to Bradley. I said farewell, then hopped back on 91 to resume the nice quiet ride north. I was pretty sleepy on the way up and the sun musta been hitting snooze cause it seemed like it would never come up. Eventually the light started to filter thru the thick overcast clouds.
The scenery on 103 to 11 to 7A was nice, seeing some of the nearby mountains and ski spots was welcome. Driving down into the Machester Valley was highlighted by Mt.Equinox looming right in front of me, but with the summits buried in the clouds.
I played a fun game on the way up and tried to not make a rest stop for a bathroom break until I hit a McDonalds Â– I lost. I had to dive into a Â“ClarksÂ” or I was gonna blow.
I turned into West Union Road around 0750, and pulled into the first lot on the right. It was overflowing with cars and kids (guess thereÂ’s a school right below) so I managed to make by way out of the lot against the flow of inward traffic and headed to the end of the street where there was another smaller lot.
HereÂ’s a good link to an interactive and downloadable map:http://www.equinoxpreservationtrust.org/mapinteractive.php
As I got ready, one middle aged guy was hitting the trail and 3 cars pulled in. A whole gang of ladies and their dogs piled out and I was almost mauled by a abominable snow-man look alike poodle! They took off into the woods as I was scrambling thru the car looking for my hat. Seems I had the luck of while on the ride to Bradley taking it off and placing it on my thigh. When I got out of the car at the airport to unload my parents luggage, I totally forgot about it and it musta fallen right to the ground. Never saw the black hat on the black tarmac in the black morning. After lamenting my loss, I pulled on the thin techwick Alli-G doo-rag I luckily packed and hit the trail ~8AM.
Equinox in the clouds from the parking lotÂ…sorry for the blurry pic.
It was an awesome hike up with flurries floating around me the whole time. The trail has the slightest dusting of snow that thickened as it gained elevation the whole time.
The elevation gain of the trail leads to a great workout and I gotta admit I was feeling it the way up. I realized it had been a while since I last ate ( ~3:50AM), so I stopped several times for water and some Powerbar Powerbits (Powerbars rolled into small balls, that in the cold, are quite similar to jawbreakers!).
It was really nice solitary hike up, with the rice-krispy like echo of snow falling around higher up as the woods and trees thickened. Towards the woods really thicken and the trail almost gets buried in a thick, dense, lush woods. A couple times I stopped just to soak in the silence and peacefulness of it all.
A short distance from the top I meet the gentleman from the parking lot coming down from the summit and we exchanged a few words. I had just passed thru a confusing 4 way intersection and confirmed I was indeed on the right path.
Up further I ran into a radio tower where the path forks left and right.
I headed left and continued on, the summit house coming into view to my right thru the trees. The path I was on ended at the paved summit road and hanging a right onto it I went up a couple hundred feet to the empty summit parking lot around 0930 am.
I turned around and headed back down the road to explore a side trail which lead to some tower and small fenced areas. I headed back up to summit to settle down for a bit and check it out.
I wanna join the Cathusians!!!
After a lap of the building, snapping a few shots, I hopped up onto the deck.
I forgot my quartersÂ….
After settling down, I decided to make a nice little brunch for myself. The jetboil flared an angry green flame for a bit before firing up to boil some water for Pasta Primavera with Keebler cheese crackers crushed up and tossed in.
I did a couple of laps around the building while enjoying a nice hot meal. Temps were in the upper 20s according to my tiny keychain thermometer and it was nice to hold the warm food bad in my hands.
After brunch I packed everything up and headed down to lookout rock.
Along the way I crossed by this old grave site.
Then continued on to Lookout
Lookout rock didnÂ’t have much more to offer in terms of scenery
So I provided some for the camera.
The sun seemed to try to poke thru the clouds, so instead of taking a yellow trail which heads diagonal from lookout rock to the blue summit trail, I made my way back up to the summit to see if the view had changed at all.
I managed to catch a quick glimpse of the valley and town below in a few breaks in the clouds as they floated by.
Around this time a single siren alarm went off down below in the town. Anyone that has ever played the Silent Hill videogames or seen the movie knows what happens when the siren sounds, and it was kinda freaky standing up there in grey underneath the clouds.
After ~ 2hours up top, I finally decided it was time to start heading on down. On the way down I ran into 2 middle aged woman coming on up. I mentioned it was a little slippy further up, to which they replied, Â“we have microspikesÂ”. I mentioned that I had them too, but hated the crunch of the steel on the exposed rocks. After that run-in I happened to slip twice, going down hard one of the times and my pole got stuck, giving it a nice curve. I straightened it out with the help of a nearby tree and continued down. As much of a help Microspikes would have been, I didnÂ’t feel like bothering with them, since the ice was sporadic. ThereÂ’s something about the sound and feel of the chains and spikes on bare rock that makes me shiver like from nails on a chalk board.
On the way down I made a quick detour to check out the Â“upper springÂ” which was flowing nicely. This oneÂ’s for you Rage
The way down was a blast: there are numerous drainage ditches across the trail. I extended the poles extra long and thrust them out in front of me, into the ditch, then leap frogged with them over each one, catching some nice hang timeÂ…loads of fun!!!
Down below I decided to check out the surrounding trails in the south of the preserve. I hung a right onto the orange trail then right onto the green followed by a another right onto the white. A few steps up the white I turned left onto the green/black trail to RobinÂ’s Lookout where a nice view of the pond and pavilion presented itself.
I back tracked down to the green trail then over to the white/green pond loop, which circles around the pond and pavilion seen from RobinÂ’s Lookout.
The view from the pond pavilion of Mt.Equinox was worth the detour.
Loved the snow frosting on the tips of the trees up above
One last pose for the cameraÂ….I set the camera, hit the button, and ran to position, dropping a leg over the wall and straight into the pond. If you look closely, you can see the ripplesÂ…god bless gore-texÂ…
I took the easiest path back, appropriately named Â“Flatlanders PathÂ” and got back to the car ~1:30.
On the way home I stopped by a great pub (Mulligans) on 7a, just a couple minutes from Equinox to treat myself to a Rogues Dead Guy Ale and fantastic sandwich. I got stuck behind a double long logging truck once back on 7a, but was able to make quick work of it when the opportunity presented itself.
I stopped by the Vermont Country store, where I swear I was the only male, and picked up some sweets which I snacked on the along the way home.
All in all, a great first time trip and hike in Vermont. It was well worth every step and I look forward to heading back up next year to hopefully see what the summit view holds!