Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Climbing Mount Mansfield, VT - Photo Set.


Cairn on Mount Mansfield. Photo by Charles Wolf. 
Impulsive Artistry © 2016. All Rights Reserved. 

Hiking to the top of Mount Mansfield, the tallest mountain in Vermont (4,393 ft to the highest peak), ranks in my top 25 coolest and strenuous experiences to date. The peaks of Mansfield, when viewed from a distance, form an elongated profile of a human head: the forehead, nose, lips, chin and Adams apple. This climb took a little over 6 hours, 2 ½ to the top and 3 ½ hours down. Thankfully, the trails to the top do not start at the bottom the mountain or it would have been a much longer climb.

My wife and I arrived in the early morning. A mist settled in-between the trees from the low hanging clouds resting against the side of the mountain. The birds chirped from the branches above and the air was cool and damp. The trail began with a long stretch of gravel road with an even gradient upwards. At the end of the road, three paths branched outwards, and we chose the Sunset Ridge Trail—while still a strenuous climb, it was not the most direct route to the top. We crossed several streams as we hiked, using small wooden footbridges a few feet wide. As we ascended, the trees became shorter, and the path steeper.


Road up the Mountain. Photo by Charles Wolf. 
Impulsive Artistry © 2016. All Rights Reserved. 


A Footbridge. Photo by Charles Wolf. 
Impulsive Artistry © 2016. All Rights Reserved. 
    
In Vermont, June is similar to April in North Carolina: spring. The wildflowers are in bloom, the grass and leaves a vibrant green, and the streams are rushing down the mountains. One such mountain stream found its way onto the path that we climbed, forcing us to skip from stone to slippery stone to avoid plunging our boots into mud. The forest comprised of birch, oak, maple and evergreens at the bottom, gave way to only pines growing to our eye-level, and then even shorter. We had reached the end of trees and should have seen a stunning view of the surrounding landscape stretching out below, but as I mentioned in my last photo set, “Visiting Vermont,” the first few days were overcast and dreary and the clouds blocked our view. We chose this day to hike because the weather was forecasted for sunny, it wasn’t sunny yet and we pressed onwards and upwards.


Mossy Boulders. Photo by Charles Wolf. 
Impulsive Artistry © 2016. All Rights Reserved. 


Over the Ridge. Photo by Charles Wolf. 
Impulsive Artistry © 2016. All Rights Reserved.

One of the most beautiful scenes that I have ever seen in my life was a large rocky-sloped plateau, splotched with green lichen and marked with cairn disappearing into the mist. A brisk breeze chilled us through our clothing, rushing across the top of the mountain. Through the thick rolling fog, I could dimly see a larger hill rising up higher than the plateau and perhaps another beyond that. We stopped under an outcropping of stone and ate a quick snack as the cold air whipped past. Resolved to reach the top, we continued on our journey.


The Rocky Plateau. Photo by Charles Wolf. 
Impulsive Artistry © 2016. All Rights Reserved.


Misty Mountainside. Photo by Charles Wolf. 
Impulsive Artistry © 2016. All Rights Reserved. 

In several spots the path ended at large rocky boulders and we climbed vertically using small handholds. The air grew thicker with swirling white/grey mist the higher we climbed, and at last we reached the top. A sign marked the side of the path, declaring our victory; at least I think that is what it said…


Through the Gap. Photo by Charles Wolf. 
Impulsive Artistry © 2016. All Rights Reserved.  


Conquers of the Mountain! Photo by Charles Wolf. 
Impulsive Artistry © 2016. All Rights Reserved. 

Climbing down proved tougher than climbing up. The stones were slick, and we had to be extra careful to not fall onto our faces or into the muddy water. As we hiked, down the sun burst through a fog and the clouds began to move away from the mountain. Before we returned to the tree line, we got to finally see the spectacular view that we had missed on the way up. Of course by afternoon the sky was blue, but we had a wonderful time climbing to the top of Mount Mansfield. A memory and an experience that I will not soon forget!    


 The Fog Breaks. Photo by Charles Wolf. 
Impulsive Artistry © 2016. All Rights Reserved. 



  Clouds over the Green Mountains. Photo by Charles Wolf. 
Impulsive Artistry © 2016. All Rights Reserved.


A Stunning Landscape! Photo by Charles Wolf. 
Impulsive Artistry © 2016. All Rights Reserved.


Question of the Day!

What is your favorite or most infamous memory of hiking? 

Let me know in the Comments below 
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