Miles to go before I sleep…*
October 3, 2019
I’m sitting here at the Moosalamoo Campground off of Forest Road 32 in the Green Mountain National Forest, Moosalamoo National Recreation Area. I am drinking the up and down beer, a Chinooker’d. It is the one I packed up in case of an emergency but did not drink on the trail. It was a two-beer day, the first one enjoyed on the ridge at about mile five. After a 9.2 mile hike in total today, this one tastes pretty good.
Earlier this morning, Sue from the Moosalamoo Association met me here to shuttle me back to my starting point of the day, the trailhead for the Oak Ridge Trail on Route 125. This trail begins on a town highway/forest road that was once was part of the Centre Turnpike, the original road over the mountain that was built in 1807. Today the corridor serves some private land and access to the National Forest. It is also the corridor for the utilities that serve the Breadloaf Campus of Middlebury College. Route 125 is a National Scenic Highway that now follows the Middlebury River gorge rather than the former overland route. Joseph Battell built the hotel that now serves the college and had telegraph lines installed along the old road. This corridor still serves the utility lines. After about a mile the Oak Ridge Trail leaves the old turnpike and ascends up toward Mount Moosalamoo. My adventure begins as I have never ventured beyond that point and was uncertain about the trail and conditions.
I immediately realized that I was going to be fine since the trail was very visible and very well blazed in blue. I am not sure why it is called the Oak Ridge Trail because it was mostly beech, maple and birch. This National Forest is a well managed hardwood stand that has had a history of logging and current management practices are nurturing another fine stand. As the trail wends its way up the slope the tall straight trees became more sparse and the canopy more open. The forest floor is covered in ferns and hobble bush viburnum in it multi color state. Oh, how it can be a pain while bushwacking. Hurray, for the first time this week, the sun made a brief appearance while I took a welcome break in the open glade to bask.
You know when you are alone and on a new trail, headed to a destination that you have never been, you begin to question if you missed a turn or, you ask, “Why am I going north when I’m supposed to be going south. I had these thoughts but quickly put them out of my mind as I hummed along at a solid pace up the blue blazed path. Just keep walking, Kevin. Of course, I had a map, my cell phone and the sun to also guide me. It is great to be able to check elevations and the compass. Let us not get too reliant however. I realized that I had left my headlamp in the car. Bad. I did, however have two bars of service to be able to send off a couple of text messages including this poem to Abigail, daughter number 3 at UVM:
Here I sit upon the ridge,
looking about the land.
Before me stands Moosalamoo,
the hike is well in hand.
After about three and half hours of continuous hiking with few breaks, I came to the junction of the Moosalamoo Trail that leads back down to the Campground, my final destination for the day where the Silver Bullet (my Volvo wagon) awaits. The Oak Ridge Trail continues on up to the summit of Moosalamoo and beyond. I chose to bag the peak and within another 20 minutes, I was at the apex of the ridge looking east at the Green Mountain spine. I had come to a new high point in Vermont reaching within and atop the Moosalamoo National Recreation Area. How fitting that those thousands of blue blazes might also serve travelers on their way through to the Long trail and Maine Junction from regions west on the North Country Trail.
Tomorrow, I will complete my journey running from Moosalamoo Campground by running 2.4 miles on the Catamount Trail and the Historic Sucker Brook Trail to the Forest Road 67, Brooks Road trailhead parking where I will have stashed my car. David Sabatini has offered to shuttle me. I will then hike up the Sucker Brook Trail to the Long Trail and back down to my car. I was hoping to have some friends join me but, alas, they are on another mission. That’s fine. With the exception of the short hike with Katherine, I have done this solo. I am pretty good with that. Tonight I am meeting with Merle Schloff, another Moosalamoo board member, in the pub. First it is time to head to the inn for a hot bath.
*Robert Frost – From – Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.
My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.
He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.