White Rocks

Greg after swapping layers on the way up

A short hike with Greg and the Pup. Cold, late fall and late for the season cold. We set out to do the White Rocks / Hunger Mountain loop – but the pup was shivering as we neared the top of White Rocks – so we back tracked.

The trail pup

Hunger was in low lying clouds – so we made a good choice, regardless, especially after retreating to Red Hen for coffee and breakfast.

Hunger in the clouds, from our coffee stop near the top of White Rocks

Dynamic Sky

I was planning to ride this morning due to the mountain forecast looking unfavorable for a hike and some photography – but when the pup got up to go out at 3am I checked the forecasts and saw the winds dropping and the sky revised to ‘partly cloudy’. I put on coffee, ran around getting gear together, and was hiking by 5am. Summit by 6:30 or so, where I found a spot semi sheltered from the wind.

Trail under the light of the Petzl NAO
Trail marker
Peek at the moon

I ran a quick time lapse test on the G7X Mk2 – but it was very very windy – so I focused on shooting stills. In the Gossamer Gear Summit pack I had the Canon M6 with 4 lenses, Canon G7X Mk2, 2 tripods (1 small, 1 regular height), sit pad, water, snack, and warm layers.

Sunrise!

The color was pretty incredible with the dynamic sky. Before the sun snuck over the horizon we were in and out of the clouds. That calmed down a bit once the sun was up.

The little cloud that could!
Summit selfie
Unreal light

After about an hour of hanging out on top I descended and played with a 50mm f/1.8 lens on the M6. It shoots pretty long on the new camera – but it produces lovely images. Lots to learn – but I like it.

Tree – playing with the ‘nifty fifty’ on the way down
Lonely leaf
Fungi and color
Burl and Bokeh
Trail paint and color – playing with the ‘nifty fifty’ on the way down

I took a few dirt road diversions on the way home to check out the fall color. All in, a great morning.

Black and White

Greg took this shot of me on a bikepacking overnight last fall. Its a marker and a reminder of the stark contrast to how I have felt for the last several years – finally kicking fitness and health into a higher gear, dealing with an auto-immune disease, and finding my riding and adventuring spirit again. At the end of last fall I don’t think I felt as good on a bike since I was brevet training back in 2006. I couldn’t ride brevet distances right now – but things were just clicking along. Single speeding most of the summer helped – but also having energy again to actually enjoy being ‘out there’ – be it on a hike or on the bike.

Ghostlike

Snaps taking late fall, after dropping Ava off at school. Unreal fog and morning light.

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Cotton Brook for Pie

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A ride in Cotton Brook for homemade apple pie. The plan was to ride in from the Stowe side and sit out the rain at a lean to in Little River State Park. With a late start and decent weather as the afternoon wore on we just sat trail-side and enjoyed home made pie and fresh coffee instead of riding downhill for 1.6 miles only to have to climb back up…

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~20 miles
~2600′ of climbing, ~1600′ in the first 9.7 miles
Rain, chilly, home made pie
Greg’s Mukluk, Wil’s Ice Cream Truck, and my Pugsley
We saw a bear!

Bikepacking Groton State Forest

Greg, Wil and I did a S24O to Groton State Forest last weekend. Rain, sleet, some snow. Temps in the 30s during the day and 20s overnight. Dirt road, single track, double track, and forest ‘roads’, with a bit of pavement in the middle. About 16 miles each day, we started late on Saturday due to everyone’s family commitments, and we actually, for the first time in my S24O history made it to camp with daylight left over. Which was needed – as we rode in the rain / snow on and off through the afternoon and needed a good place to camp, and to build a fire to ward off the chill.

We rolled out of Greg’s place and tackled Jerusalem Rd. This started out as dirt road, then went to Class 4 road, then went to double track filled with rocks. Great fun, even going up and over. Near the top there was some recent logging, so the ‘road’ was in better shape, and we enjoyed the descent to Marshfield Pond.

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We had snow and sleet up top, and at our next intersection we snacked a bit, enjoyed the view from the pond, and took off on RR East – a road / trail along the old Wells River railbed. We had 2 trucks pass us, a hunter, and another out for a ‘smoke’. Was interesting riding up in no man’s land.

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We eventually dropped onto VT 232 for about a half mile of pavement to Kettle Pond. We thought about walking back into a lean to for camp – but with daylight left and the rain and snow only a minor nuisance we decided to press on to Osmore Pond, via Telephone Line trail – a ‘multi use’ path – but really a leaf covered slippery single track. We spent about half an hour actually finding the trail – but once located we made quick work of the climbing to the northern end of Osmore Pond.

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Eyeing a picnic shelter with a huge fireplace, we called it a day, and began collecting wet, soggy wood, and changing into dry gear. Fire ensued, and after some careful stacking, lighting, and fussing, we had a roaring fire to warm us as we ate dinner.

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Wil brought a bivy, I had my 30d down bag and e-bivy, and Greg brought his ancient synthetic winter bag. We all had insulated sleeping pads. The concrete of the shelter was damned cold though – even seeping through my riding shoes. Greg and I decided we would sleep atop picnic tables, and Wil quickly joined, moving his bivy and bag on top in the middle. We then tipped up the remaining tables in the shelter to block what wind we could… which worked for the most part. We stoked the fire and stocked it up late (for us, on a cold, wet night – until about 9pm), then turned in for the night.

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I lent Greg my e-bivy as he was worried about being cold, and I have had successful nights with my gear down into the low 20s. I slept cold, a bit too cold that night, and I regretted a bit handing over my gear – but Greg was comfortable, which means he’ll keep pushing into shoulder seasons with us. The fire was glowing coals in the morning – and with Greg working a bit we had a warm fire to eat our breakfast by.

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We rolled out the dirt access road, found a short cut trail, and did a few miles on pavement to connect to RR East. From there it was a mellow, but scenic and mostly downhill run into Plainfield, where we had designs on second breakfast some 16 miles later.

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For an overnight, pushing the boundaries of weather, cold, and new gear – it was a great time. There is a ton to explore in Groton State Forest and surrounding central Vermont, and I can’t wait to get back. The Krampus, with its Revelate kit performed flawlessly. Even in the wet the tires gripped when needed, and the 3″ Knard softened my ride and had me rolling up and over all the obstacles the trails through at me. I have some ideas on streamlining my kit further – primarily dealing with GPS, camera, and my yet to be built dyno / charging switch. I also discovered that the matches in my waterproof kit that have been tucked away for years in my kitchen bag were all duds, likely just aged out… thankfully my fire starter and my stove allowed us to get the fire going without incident.