Just posted from Sept 15 – Sept 20.
We get up and head out for morning pee. Another couple who arrived last night with a dog are on the deck eating breakfast. The dogs had made friends last night and we’re ok in the Camp together. We walk out on the deck and this dog attacks Sherman. She’s off leash. I get my foot in between and push her away while her man grabs her. I never saw Sherman fight before. He was right in there nip for nip. She left with a mouth of his hair. A plus for longer hired animals. After she we under control, Sherman was holding his right leg up. It was sore. I say, “Just what I don’t need is an injured dog to carry off the mountain.” I pick him up. Feel and look for injuries. I don’t find anything obvious. I carry him off the deck to the woods to see how he does. He limps for a few steps then stops limping. Maybe it’s sore from being pushed onto the metal grate outside the door when attacked. I feel and push between and around all his pads. No response. Massage his leg muscles looking for reactions. None. Ok. Looks like the hiking gods were with us this morning.
We are packed and headed for the Mt Mansfield Summit. It’s about an 800 ft ascent in a half mile. It is steep, steep, steep.
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There are many rock scrambles where I pick sherman up to a higher place on the rock and then pull myself up holding onto trees or rock bumps. We are close to the summit. It seems to be right above us. We go around a corner and it looks like the trail end at a rock wall. I go to where it ends and see a needle that goes up 10 feet at 70 degrees. How the hell are we going to get up there?
It happens this way. I see the big picture first. This is not climbable. It has to ok that this thought occurs. And to not believe it. Then I start to look at the details. What is the grain of the rock? What’s the texture of the surface? Bumps. Cracks. Flat horizontal areas. Where are there possible footholds/handholds? As a possible path emerges it’s overlaid by the distance between features. Can I step that far and be in balance? After a 10 minute rock meditation, it’s time to take the first step. AND, I need to get Sherman up this in front of me. He’s on his 8 ft hiking leash. We had an incident earlier where he slipped on a rock and started to fall what would have been 10-12 feet except for the leash. So, I’ve kept it on.
I put him on the first step. It’s big enough for me to stand there too. Then I lift him into the needle, far enough for me to climbs to the next foothold. But he turns around and comes back to me to see if I’m ok. And, this blocks my ascent. I put him up higher again. He comes back down. I try to put him a little further and he flips onto his back in the crevice. I help him turn over and he’s back in my face. I put him back up and block his movement. Telling him he needs to STAY there so I can come up. He’s looking at me with sad eyes. But he stays and I get to the next foothold. This is just my toes, but I now have a good hand hold over the top of the needle. I boost him almost to the top and he climbs out. This allows me to climb up and out of the needle. What I haven’t said is that during this whole event, I have my 30 pound back pack on! As I squeeze though the needle one of my water bottles pops out of the pocket and falls. When I get to the top I look and it’s sitting right on the edge. It’s down the needle, but not down the mountain. I want this bottle. So, I tie Sherman on a shortened leash to a tree by the trail. Take off my backpack and climb down to get my water and climb back up. It was SO much easier without my pack. This is the hardest spot yet. Especially pushing Sherman ahead of me. YIKES!
fullsizeoutput_2097The trail is hard and steep but doable until we get to the last scramble before the summit.
Just as we arrive at this spot, Sherman lies down in some grass. I usually pick the break times and spots, but on occasion he picks. This is a Sherman pick, and I think, “Good choice. Sit and look at he view and contemplate this rock before going up it.” After a few minutes a couple about my age comes up the trail day-hiking. They ask of they can help. I say, “We’re just taking a break before going up.” Sherman didn’t make any sound when they approached, which he almost always does. Either a bark or low growl. They say, “No. Let us help. You’ve got the dog to manage too.” So, I push my pack up the rock to the man who drags it up and then boosts it to his wife who drags it to the first level area. I’m half way up the rock and say, “I’m sure not a mountain climber.” She says, “Me neither.”
While the dragging happens another bottle pops out of a side pocket. This time it’s my water kefir. I watch it bounce down and magically it too stops right at the edge. The woman say, “I’ll go get it.” “No,” I say, “I’ll go” So I get to climb each of these tough spots twice and descend each one once.
At the summit we find Tim, the caretaker from Taft. The GMC has a person posted at the beak from spring till the leaves are done in the fall. They answer questions, help keep people in the requested bounds of the trails so the alpine vegetation isn’t damaged or killed. The view is spectacular. 360 degree. There’s some haze, so we can’t see the White Mountains in NH or Lake Champlain. Since we’ve never seen them from here, we don’t miss them.
fullsizeoutput_20a3 There are about 20 people on the summit. Sherman and I had a nice convo with this woman and her dog.
fullsizeoutput_20b1 Mt. Mansfield is a long mountain. The Adams Apple. The Nose. The Forehead. These TV and cell towers are still on Mansfield.
fullsizeoutput_20bbLooking back at the summit as we start down.
We do the Rock Walk. The trail for the next couple miles is on the rocky ridge south of the summit. The whole way there’s close to a 180 degree view. One side, then the other as the trail meanders from back and forth over the ridge.
We stop at The Mansfield Visitor’s Center. I’m expecting a full blown visitors center. Displays. Running Water. Gift Shop. Maybe food. None of that. It’s an old concession that the Stowe Ski Resort ran hoping of make money from the visitors to the peak. It didn’t make enough money. So they abandoned it. The GMC has a front room with a display and information on the organization and what makes this whole corridor through the Green Mountains possible. There are two electric plugs and Tim lets me plug my battery and phone in while Sherman and I eat lunch. Tim and I talk. Hiking. Work. Life. Dreams. Dogs. I like Tim. Then it’s time to go. Onward…
The hardest part of the trail on Mansfield is called The Forehead. Lots of scrambling and a 20 foot ladder going down a rock face at one point. I decide to take the bad weather bypass. It turns out to be a blessing. This is a magical trail. Like walking through an Emerald Green Elvin Kingdom. The colors and textures are not like anything I’ve ever seen. I am in constant awe and amazement. This is a good trade for another view from a big rock!
fullsizeoutput_20c5 The Emerald Kingdom.
fullsizeoutput_20c7 More…
fullsizeoutput_20c9 A loooong rock face to walk and butt slide down.
fullsizeoutput_20d3Sherman hiding during Break Time.
After we rejoin the LT the down trail is frequent long slippery rock faces. Not steep. Just not good traction. The going is very slow. Somehow my slips don’t turn into falls. Slowly the trail becomes less and less steep and the rocks become more textured. Easier and faster to walk on. The last couple miles is good tread and we both feel good walking at a normal hiking pace.
fullsizeoutput_20efWe get to Taylor Camp. Remove our packs. Getting water is first. There’s a map. Water is 1/4 mile down to a spring,
fullsizeoutput_20e7where it runs out of a plastic pipe.
fullsizeoutput_20e3This is how I treat our water. I use this device called a Steripen. It kills all the living stuff — good and bad — with ultraviolet light.
Good to walk without Packs. When back, Sherman immediately lays down and goes to sleep. Maybe I should too. But house and food to manage. In an hour he wakes up and eats. At dusk another hiker, Skunk, shows up. He’s had a 15 mile day and is exhausted. Sherman is on my lap. Totally limp while I’m brushing out his knots. This is a daily ritual now that he’s come to enjoy. He gets knots when his pack rubs. Brushing them out daily keeps them small. The couple times I’ve skipped a day… Not fun for either of us. He’s glad I’m trainable! Sherman sleeps on my lap while I chat with Skunk.