This past weekend I drove to Vermont to attend a Green Mountain Club event called Winter Trails Day. It was an all-day event at the Long Trail Brewery in Bridgewater Corners Vermont that started with coffee and a very helpful winter skills workshop. There were maybe 10 different guided group hikes all heading out from the brewery to different trails and mountains. Squirrel and Early Bird were leading one of the group hikes up Pico and encouraged me to come up and join them so I did. I met Squirrel a year ago last March while stopping in at the Green Mountain Club Welcome Center to get some information about The Long Trail. Squirrel gave me a load of advice and encouragement and we have kept in touch ever since. I recently wrote more about Squirrel here.
When I arrived I was told that the Pico hike had filled up and that a second group would be added. I was kinda anxious cuz I’ve never gone on a guided group hike before and this whole event was a a social push out of my comfort zone. In the end I was the only person to show up who had registered for the Pico hike. I figured it was just too cold for folks as it was about 5°. While the other hikes did go out, attendance was overall kind of thin. So it ended up just being the three of us hiking Pico which was great.
The sky was so blue and clear and the air was crispy fresh. We all seemed to stay warm enough and enjoy ourselves. It was so nostalgic parking across from the Long Trail Inn and hiking up the Sherburn Pass trail. We summited careful to not get run over by skiiers and then we hiked back down into the trees stopping at the Pico Camp shelter to warm up and have a snack. I took a picture out the window from the same spot where I took a picture of Bear Bait sitting and looking out towards Killington last summer on the trail:
After the hike we went back to the brewery for the Apres Hike Party. Hikers slowly filed back into the heated tent outside the brewery where we shared stories and socialized and there was beer and soup and snacks and a big raffle and I won a T-shirt and a hat!
After the Apres Hike Party dwindled, I followed Squirrel and Early Bird to Early Birds parents house which was basically a human-size fairy house deep in the woods within walking distance to the Appalachian Trail. She made a fire in the wood stove and we drank tea and relaxed by the fire chatting for hours until it was time to sleep. I got to sleep in the coziest nook next to a big dormer window looking out at the trees and the stars as if I was in a treehouse. I reveled in the quiet. I woke up and watched hawks flying around the trees outside until the smell of coffee brought me downstairs. We ate some breakfast and drank many cups of coffee talking at great length about everything and anything. My new friends had some great trail stories from both working on various trail crews while living in Vermont and also from thru- hiking all the great long distance trails in the US. Squirrel and Early Bird have hiked the Long Trail, the Pacific Crest Trail, and The Continental Divide Trail together. Squirrel has also hiked the Appalachian Trail. They are both so humble about it and I enjoyed hearing some great tales from their many adventures. Squirrel kept saying that the Long Trail was the hardest of them all which was incredibly validating to hear coming from a Triple Crowner!
After breakfast we put all our layers back on and headed back out into the trees. We road walked the dirt roads from the house to the Appalachian Trail. Early Bird had to turn around as she had some stuff she had to do so we hugged goodbye and then Squirrel and I continued towards the AT where we hiked southbound towards a shelter where we sat in the sun taking in the melting icicles, the snow, the trees, and the blue sky and ate snacks and talked about life and gender and purpose and past and dreams and all that deep stuff. It was a balmy 15° and a luxury to be able to sit outside for a while without getting too cold.
Grateful for micro-spikes, merino wool, Vermont, cheese, and my new friends.