Burlington, VT has always ranked very high on my cities that I would love to live in some day. Its unfettered access to the Adirondacks, Green Mountains, White Mountains, Lake Champlain, and Montreal is unreal. My last visit happened to be as a prospective college student looking at UVM. It goes without saying that much has changed since then, but my desire to see what Burlington has to offer is not one of them.
Knowing I wouldn’t have much time before I had to head south, I woke up early and spent a few minutes chatting with the folks at Sam Mazza’s and grabbing coffee and a snack before heading into town. Vegan friendly restaurants are numerous, so I finally had some decisions to make. I also had budgeted a little extra spending money so I didn’t have to feel too guilty about enjoying a delicious treat and another cup of coffee. I eventually landed at New Moon, a classy café with undergraduate friendly pricing and an awesome atmosphere. I collected my coffee and muffin, the exact same combination of items the man before me had ordered, and headed for a small table to upload yesterday’s adventure. The muffin was warm, had visible shavings of vegetable, and was absolutely delicious… like no bran muffin I had ever had before. My breaks from the blog started to become quite frequent, but were wondrously tasty.
Having polished off my coffee and muffin, I headed out into Burlington, wandering the area between Church Street and Lake Champlain. Sadly, it appeared that Burlington was the kind of town where most retail stores don’t open until 10:00 AM. This meant I got to peek through the windows of the Patagonia store and the infamous Outdoor Gear Exchange. I wasn’t in the market for anything, so I really didn’t need to go in, but its always nice to be reminded what cool stuff is out there!
But time was ticking, and I needed to be in Hanover, NH by 11:00 AM. An hour of exploring seemed sufficient for a sleepy town like Burlington. In fact, the vast majority of the people that I saw were students and transients, which differed from my last impression. On the road by 9:30, I headed straight for Hanover, taking Route 100 south along the Green Mountains and arriving just a few minutes after my target time of eleven. Today, my big event was a hike with Annie and Abby, two Batesies who I hadn’t seen since we left. Both were living in or passing through the area and convened on Hanover for a hike in the White Mountain National Forest. Since she had all the local knowledge, Abby and I let Annie pick the hike. She did marvelously. We drove to the Falling Water trailhead and prepared to hike the Lincoln-Lafayette-Little Haystack ridge of the Franconia Ridge Trail. We brought along Annie’s family’s dog Jenny for the 9-mile loop and were on trail by 1:15 PM.
All of my thoughts about hiking in the ADKS apply to this trail, as well as the trail I will most likely hike in the Green Mountains. For the first 2 hours, trees, streams, and waterfalls surrounded us. No “views”, just the forest and its own form of beauty. The waterfalls were a bit of a surprise to me, in that they were relatively large and quite frequent. Leaving them behind, we scrambled over boulders and climbed higher and higher until we reached the summit of Little Haystack Mountain (4760’). From there, we could look across the ridge that led to Lincoln (5089’) and Lafayette (5260’). In our newly exposed state, we could also see the clouds blowing over the summit of Lafayette and feel the gusting winds buffeting our bodies all over the place. What a quintessential day in the Whites!
The clouds rolled in by the time we had hit Lafayette, but they just made things a little more exciting. On our way down, we stopped for lunch at the Greenleaf Hut, where Annie ran into her high school prom date. If any of you haven’t been through the hut system in the northeast, I can highly recommend it. I have only actually stayed at a few huts, but my experiences have been amazing across the board. In bad weather, they are a welcome sight. Many have been recently refurnished and refinished so that they are not only a roof over your head, but also a beautiful, utilitarian space where people come together to share meals, stories, and experiences. There are not many wilderness areas in America that have them, so if you get the opportunity, I would recommend trying them out.
Hoping to finish the hike before nighttime, we kept up a good pace on the way down, fantasizing about starting a progressive farm school and reminiscing about where everyone from our class at Bates was and what they were doing. In fact, that is basically what we focused on for the majority of the hike. It is amazing how much has happened in just two short years, and how much I had no idea was happening… Being carless in eastern North Carolina definitely meant I was a bit out of the loop, although that really is no excuse in today’s world of social media and electronic communication…
Arriving at the trailhead in just under five hours, we ended up shuttling two Penn State grads to their cars after their 3-day backpacking trip. After swapping stories and playing the “Do you know this person” game, we headed south back to Hanover. There Annie and I whipped up a tasty bowl of veggies and quinoa before heading to a medical school fiesta. It was my first real house party since college, which was a little shocking… Definitely a cultural experience that I am glad to have had. In fact, I ended up talking to a New Hampshirite who had spent the last month climbing all 48 peaks about 4,000’. We had plenty to talk about. By eleven, we were both ready to hit the hay and biked through Dartmouth with the moon overhead. Sleep came… quickly.
Another map for the collection!