Accidental Ascents

Innocent hikes on logging roads have led Jules and I on two different adventures that sent us right up two of the largest mountains in our town.

Last Monday we were mucking around on some logging roads near the base of Red Mountain, our next door neighbor, and noticed some old walls from the days when all of the forests in Vermont were open pastures for sheep. We began following one of the walls and eventually noticed a blue blaze on a tree.

Hoping that a blue blaze could only mean that we were on to something good, we kept moving up the wet, snowy, and, more than anything, muddy trail. The slope was very steep at times and we soon found ourselves at a T intersection with a snow mobile trail with a red blaze. The trail would up the side of the steep hill, showing the track marks of a snowmobile from the previous weekend.

At this point my excitement was mounting. I have been determined to summit Red Mountain (2800 feet) and today was going to be the day if I could help it.

I should note that we were not really dressed for climbing a mountain and had not water or food. But if you know Julie and I, you’ll know that this is just normal for us. Our camping trip in the Shenandoah Forest of Virginia with one water bottle was a lot worse!

The trail was ridiculously steep at times, and the final ascent was covered in icy snow, but we made it. The view on the way up was really amazing and of course I didn’t have my camera. We could see the entire town of Arlington, including our house! The summit didn’t have much of a view because it’s kind of rounded off. We did manage to reach the other end of the top and could see the Western part of Arlington. There also was a snow mobile trail that went along the top of the ridgeline. Thankfully there were no houses up there.

Going down was a bit tough. Ice, snow, mud, and wet leaves on a steep slope is a bit rough. We kind of slid and shuffled our way down. Even so, the trip down went pretty quick. We were totally soaked from our feet to our knees and promptly went home to have some hot chocolate while watching Madagascar (a kind of lame movie that needed more from the penguins).

Yesterday was our second logging road adventure. At the bottom of Spruce Mountain (3000 ft.) we started on another steep trail, found several large snow mobile trails that dumped us into some backyards of isolated homes, and eventually found an overgrown trail that went straight up the mountain. We were once again not prepared for a major hike, but decided we could at least give it a shot. The day was warm for January (44 degrees). Sadly the trail ended and we slogged back down the mountain without summitting Spruce. Better luck next week!