Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Hiking Camel's Hump VT
I got up early Sunday morning to get ready for a hike in Vermont. My friend C. picked me up around 6:15 am, after he'd picked up M., then we picked up one more hiker, and we set out for Vermont. Some construction on Autoroute 10 incited us to take a detour on Autoroute 15. The nice thing about this unplanned change was that after crossing the Canada/US border at Rouse's Point, we took some bridges and causeways over Lake Champlain, alongside the Mississquoi delta, along a floodplain with farms, and back to US Interstate 89 in Vermont, which is itself very pretty, passing through rolling farmland and then into the Green Mountains.
We got to the trailhead for Camel's Hump much later than we would have liked to, and after stretching legs and getting ready, we only hit the trail at 9:30am. However the hike up was much, much faster than expected, and we were at the summit for 11:30am. Partly this was because M. was leading most of the way (he's planning to hike to Mount Everest's Base Camp next spring) but partly the terrain was much easier than we expected. The summit is just above the treeline in the alpine zone (rather a rarity in Vermont, only on 3 mountaintops, Camel's Hump being the 2nd tallest in the state). The view was stunning and despite a bit of haze we could see the Adirondacks (NY, across Lake Champlain), other peaks of the Green Mountains, the White Mountains (NH), the Monteregian Hills in Quebec, and even Mount Royal (we think). (As a food report, I might mention that one of the "summit stewards" - who remind people not to walk on sensitive alpine vegetation along with spreading goodwill and taking your picture plus repairing trails too - shared some Ghirardelli chocolate chips with me... mmm). We left the peak around 12:15.
For the hike down we had a few trail options. We could have come down the same way we went up, but we took a longer route. We expected the descent would be more gradual, since you have the same height to descend but are doing it in a longer distance. Once again, somehow we had misread the terrain on the map (despite contour lines and all) so it was both longer and steeper. There were, however, some very nice lookout points on the way.
From start at 9:30am to finish at 3:30pm, it was an exquisite shorter hike.