Report from Peter Côté
Six adults, two kids and a dog hike Mt. Mansfield
Although our Wednesday night Lachine walks started a few weeks ago, our first Sunday outing of the year was this past Sunday (Sept 16). It was a special one-off hike of Mt. Mansfield in Vermont hosted by Monique Isler. We were six adults, two kids and a dog on what promised to be a very hot and humid day. Promises were kept.
We started our hike rather promptly from the Underhill State Park parking lot at 10 am, where the climbing starts pretty much immediately. Underhill State Park is on the west side of the Mt. Mansfield massif at about 1800 ft elevation, our destination was The Chin (the summit) at 4393 ft elevation via Sunset Ridge Trail. So, we had some solid vertical ahead of us, about 2600 ft, or roughly 800 metres. By the way, if you’ve ever seen a good profile view of the mountain, particularly from the west, you’ll know why it’s called The Chin.
Sunset Ridge Trail makes for a terrific hike, the climbing is steady all the way up, with a few difficult bits, and once you clear the trees and are out in the open the views are fantastic. A selection was made rather quickly after we started out, with the young’uns going up ahead, and us four slightly older folks taking our time and chatting as we hiked, and panting, and (shall we say) perspiring with abandon in the heat and humidity. The fast group was made up of Chris and Joanna, and Chris’ two boys, Jay and Will (and the dog). We did not see them again until we reached the summit about three hours after setting out.
One minor injury was had on the way up, but with a doctor in the house, all was well. Monique cleaned up the blood from Christine’s finger, band-aided it, kissed the little boubou better, and off we went. As we cleared treeline it looked as though the sun would be really baking us, but the cooling effects of elevation and the intermittent clouds passing by mitigated that quite nicely. A really pleasant rest was had at the summit, lunches eaten, and views all around taken, in nicely cool, sunny and breezy conditions.
We descended back down Sunset Ridge Trail, again with great views to the west. Did some sliding down steep, rocky sections on our bums, and made really good time of it without rushing at all. We took a bit of a side trip to see Cantilever Rock, a really interesting and stunning feature of a long, sharp and jagged rock that broke away from the cliffside, who knows how long ago, but remained stuck and suspended under the weight of the rock above.
We got back to the parking lot at about 3:30, that is to say, us four older members of the group did. The younger vanguard was already gone! Don’t know how quickly they did. It was a great, strenuous and invigorating day, with good friends, and a great way to kick-off the hiking season. My quads are still sore though.