We've moved! Yet again. This time to a really great spot, and with some really great people. My only complaint is that I don't get to see them more often; and that, as usual, we are most likely living here temporarily. Pupper and I moved to a house on my home snowboard mountain with my best friend and a few other really close friends. It's definitely a very good place for us; yet we are currently sharing a weird room space in the attic because they aren't any (currently) available rooms. That, combined with my eagerness to go aimlessly drive around the country, probably means we won't be here too long.
Last week the bumper on my car fell off and split and it was probably good timing because I was just past inspection grace period and I was kind of pushing my luck. This allowed me to spend some time exploring the mountain that I knew so well on snow, on foot. I had heard that there was a kind of off-map trail that allowed them to ski/ride all the way to the house in the winter. With no one else home to direct me, and the car in the shop, Braxton(this is not my dog's name, yet instead the most currently prominent of his many nicknames) and I set off to find the trail that led to the house.
At first it seemed like a pretty simple task. There is a very steep dirt road heading towards the mountain from about a quarter mile down the road. It is the only road heading in that direction and, additionally, to my knowledge it's too steep and narrow for the town to come plow it in the winter; so aside from the local homie who plows enough so his truck can get up and down; I believe it remains untouched. So, we set off up there.
We got up the road fine, and were met with a fork. A quick look at Google Maps showed left to be the obvious choice. But left actually led to another fork; a long private drive or a dead-end trail that was so overgrown it couldn't be right. I considered trying the private drive for awhile, but decided I'd come back if I couldn't find it elsewhere. The alleged trail could very well go through the yard/property of a rental property; however the problem with this area is you never know which house is a rental, a vacation home, or an angry redneck pumping a 12-gauge at anyone who comes on their property. You see an odd mix of out of state luxury cars and impractical trucks with Trump stickers on them here.
After awhile more of searching we finally found a trail that looked like it could be promising. And after a short hike, we were pretty sure we were right! The trail was heading directly for the resort trail I figured it branched off of, so despite the lack of evidence of any other traffic we continued on. However, it wasn't long before we were stopped by a recently fallen, very large, and very obnoxious tree.
We climbed around it(which was an immensely annoying task) and continued on for another quarter mile or so. However, I couldn't get the tree off of my mind. It was really pissing me off, and I couldn't stop thinking about how annoying it would be in the winter, so after I was sure we were on the right track I decided to turn home and look for any sort of saw I could find at the house. Unfortunately, all of my many saws were in my car at the time, at the shop.
It was also a very hot day and I was almost out of water for the pup already so I figured it was time to go home and come back more prepared anyways. I hadn't entirely intended on going for a hike that day; I just wanted to find that trail. We got back to the house and Bongo(I'm just going to continue calling him by his different nicknames) drowned himself in a bowl of water while I searched the premises for a saw. As I was about to give up, I checked the "trash shed"; a shed that has become dedicated to trash due to the absence of trash removal around here and the inconvenient location to the dump. As you can imagine, it's not very pleasant to go in there, and has to remain closed up with minimal ventilation due to the bear problems in the area. Either way, I gave it once last shot. And bam!, bow saw.
Bimbo and I walked back up and I spend the better part of 4 hours listening to my favorite podcast, drinking PBR and sawing away at the tree. It started to get dark at one point and I started to get hungry so I didn't totally finish, but I made it so that it was pleasant to walk. I also wanted to leave a small portion untouched because it would be really fun to snowboard on; but didn't quite finish trimming away the excess yet.
I remembered while trying to find a picture of the current stage of progress that my phone died when I tried to capture it, so it doesn't exist as of now. Once it's cut into a snow feature I'll throw it in something, somewhere, ha. Anyways, yesterday Beans and I set out on what we thought was going to be a pretty short hike. I had just gotten back from getting some food at the local store with my room mate and we had planned to go to the town bar after our other friend got out of work. He disappeared into his room when we got home, and I was bored, I decided we'd go for a short hike- given we had about a 3 hour window.
We made it the trail head fairly quickly. On my way I pulled out my Nikon that I had brought and tried to turn it on only to find out the battery was completely dead. Next time I suppose. Either way, I took some photos on my fancy pink iPhone 6s so that's why you're getting phone photos instead-- my b.
I do have a soft spot for panoramas though; even phone ones. Perspective is such an important aspect of photography, and despite my disdain for how phone cameras have changed photography- I gotta admit the ease of taking pan's on them is pretty fucking awesome. Anyways, as soon as we were on the main trail I looked at the time and questioned whether to continue on the hike or to head back to join my room mate. I gave myself the old "turn around time" and huffed on. There's something so therapeutic about hiking for me- or just being in the woods in general. It always seems like such a task until I find myself doing it- and then I never want to turn back. Before I knew it, I was far past my turning back time and had no intention of making it back in time for the bar- by dark was the new concern.
the above rant about panoramas was because I had a nice one of the mountain I wanted to put here but no matter how much I try it ain't workin' so there's a picture of the chairlift instead
Having spent a lot of my life snowboarding on mountains, I rarely hike those same mountains and realize how big they really are. Not that hiking is an uncommon activity for me- just until moving next to one, ski resorts were usually not top on my list of places to hike. For one, they can get crowded. Also- I hate hiking on wide open trails. As I mentioned before- I want to be in the woods. Another one of my room mates builds the mountain bike trails on the resort in the summer, which weave in and out of the woods. I was tempted to go up those instead but am glad I decided against it because I underestimated the size of the mountain, and how much steeper it is going up than down.
As we reached the top of the first lift and I realized the easiest path up the mountain from there, I realized we were heading right for an intersection of the Long Trail. The Long Trail is one of the oldest(I've heard oldest?) "long-distance" hiking trail in the USA. It spans upwards of 300 miles across the state of Vermont, and continues onto the Appalachian Trail. Bla bla bla, the point is as I realized this and my affinity for hiking and being in the woods; and my recent overbearing necessity to clear my head; the idea to hike the entirety of the trail with pupper came into my head. I think we could get it done is under 3 weeks before we head out of state. Not sure yet-- just ideas.
Anyways, I figured we'd go to the peak and walk down the trail a little bit before heading back down in time for sundown. We were maybe 1/3rd of the way up when I made the decision; but it was a cool, cloudy day here and I had plenty of water for the dog so we said why not. We found the service trail eventually and took it to a mid-mountain lodge that I was really hoping had unlocked doors, or something I could use as a dog bowl outside. After finding the doors locked and searching thoroughly, I decided I had to keep using the stupid fucking ball jar I brought. I didn't think that one through.
After the mid-mountain lodge, we continued up a windy trail I remember as always being really fun and mellow in the winter. Hiking up it was not mellow at all. That shit was so much longer and steeper than it could ever seem in the winter. It's one of those super windy switchback trails that you actually have to keep your speed on during the last few turns in the winter to make it past the small flat. Those last three slow turns were incredibly steep and it dumbfounded me how they could be so different during the season.
Either way, we finally surmounted the crazy switchback trail and were on the last flat stretch before the peak. There's a lift that services a mere 100 feet away from the actual peak; so that's pretty cool. As we were getting closer, we started to hear power tools. As we got closer from there, we began to hear music; the same music I wrote about a few days ago in my music promotion series, the Murder City Devils. I thought, "huh, what a coincidence" before I remembered that my afore-mentioned room mate; the one that builds bike trails; was doing a few day project in which he was building a new lift shack up there. I hid out of sight as I let Dingus' leash go, and needless to say my room mate was extremely confused to see him at the very top of Sugarbush. I let the confusion set in before I popped out of my hiding place.
After hanging with the roomie, we headed up the short hill to the Long Trail interception. We had a few sips of whiskey along the trail, and headed for the seating area built on top of the peak to try and catch a view despite the fog.
Oogie at the Long Trail head
The view was unsuccessful; the fog was very thick and at this point we were so high up in there that I was wearing a hoodie with the hood up while rigorously hiking in what was an 80 degree F day a few miles down the mountain. But it was fucking cool, and fun. I think Gizmo was a little scared about being on the patio; which was really ironic to me considering all the other heart-attack-causing things he does.
When I was a young teen, a good friend of mine Sam died in a really unfortunate accident. His family and us, as friends, have done numerous things to help the community and help preserve his memory. One of those things was a group of us came up with the idea of making little ceramic cookies with his name imprinted on them; to place all around the places he would love to be if he had lived out his life. Unbeknownst to me prior to walking around the deck for a minute, there was so perfectly placed a Sam stone right there in front of me. It brought an odd sort of half-tearing smile to my face. Love you g.
From there, we decided we had better get the fuck back down the mountain. It was going to be pretty dark soon- and I had just looked at the GPS out of curiosity and realized we were over 4 miles from home. No lights, either; unless you count the flashlight on my phone that was going to die any moment.
Almost immediately on the way down we noticed a little teepee and I went to check it out. It was literally filled with trash. Like, old trash too. Not stuff that was left to be picked up at some point- like years f shit. I'm planning on hiking back up there at some point with a trash bag and getting started. I think if I talked to one of my friends at the mountain, I could probably just bag it up when I was hiking one day and leave it along a patrolled area for someone to pick up in a 4-wheeler.
So we kind of rushed down. I couldn't stop thinking about hiking the Long Trail- even just part of it- with Yanbi. It could be so fun, and so therapeutic. Hopefully we do that before we leave the east. It seemed like we had plenty of light until we split back onto our shortcut trail to the house. I forgot what a difference tree coverage made; we were in the fucking dark all of a sudden. We made it home though, and got home to a full-fledged party. I guess we missed it though, because it only lasted about an hour after we got back.
Well that's that. Today my room mate and I started clearing woods for a really fun snowboard track in the backyard and are going to start renovating the cabin soon. I've also been building trails for McGonagimbus and my room mate's been making river art so stay tuned for our property upgrades :) hahaha