Ah, when to the heart of man…*
October 4, 2019 12:00pm
Outdoors is so much more than fun. This ethic I share with a friend who first wrote these words. It guides me daily, today more than ever. I am writing this at the Sucker Brook Shelter on the Long Trail, my journey’s end for this trek. Yup, I schlepped up my laptop, knowing that I would probably have some time to kill at the shelter.
Last night in the pub, I was pleased to join in conversation with some of the locals and visitor, including the bicyclists touring with Sojourn, a bicycle tour company located in Vermont. I had a great time talking about the NCT to Daniel, sales, customer service and guide. We mused about the possibility of guiding travelers on a similar adventure to what I was doing, mixing it up with biking, running and hiking. I also met with Merle, a board member of the Moosalamoo Association and a friend that I had met first at the top of the Middlebury Snow Bowl before the season opened. Up is the new down in skiing. What a great place to socialize, the pub at the Waybury Inn. Oh, how I felt at home again.
This morning, I began the day with a leisurely breakfast at the Waybury Inn, knowing that it was going to be a light duty day as far as hiking miles. I sat in the very beautiful dining room with cloth napkins and enjoyed the omelet of the day and the company of another writer, from the local paper, the Addison Independent. I recalled the story of how I discovered the trail, about the prideful moments that I have enjoyed since being semiretired, and pontificated on the past present and future of trails and greenways in Vermont and beyond. Abagael volunteered to follow me to spot my car at the Sucker Brook trailhead and drive me back to Moosalamoo Campground where I left off yesterday.
My original plan was to run the first section of trails back to the car, but due to the 40-degree temperature and the scattered rain showers, I opted to hike it with pack and clothing. These trails included the Horseshoe Trail to the Goshen Dam on the Sugar Hill Reservoir and the lower Sucker Brook Trail to the trailhead parking and my car. The Catamount Trail, Vermont’s north/south end-to-end cross-country ski trail system coexists with these trails for a long stretch through the Moosalomoo National Recreation Area. This stretch of hiking was on well-maintained corridor type trails and forest roads that easily support two people walking abreast, a very social thing to do if you have a companion with you. The final push was to the Long Trail from the trailhead a short 1.2 miles.
The rain abated once again and I did not get wet, though I was happy to be using my new Patagonia rain jacket for the first time during the 4-day trek. The overcast skies once again gave the forest a close and intimate feeling. Though I was alone, I had many visitors in my thoughts. Hiking for the fourth day in a row has enhanced my feeling of gratitude about being alive, having such a great family a so many good friend. I was very happy sad and proud to still be doing something meaningful. I am so lucky!
I left off my writing at the Long Trail Shelter, because I had just met Ian Inglis, who footsteps preceded his arrival. I was just lamenting that I had not met anyone on the trail today. The visit to the Long Trail in this section was anticlimactic as it was not on the ridge and there were no views, just a trail head junction sign and a path leading north and south. So, I returned to the shelter just down hill on the Sucker Brook trail and opened my laptop. Ian’s timing was perfect. He really appreciated the Chinooker’d IPA that I had in my pack in case of an emergency. I also bequeathed my remaining homemade cookies. Ian is heading to Massachucetts with a grin. In a brief period of time, I realized that he will be a force for good and change the world. I meet the most interesting people on top of the Green Mountains.
Now I am home in my humble abode along the Mill Brook. I have fired up the wood stove for the first time this season and the washing machine in hurtling around on spin. Time to finish this blog series for the day. I am sure that in the coming days, I will have more to reflect on and will post a follow up. But, I want to leave with this initial parting thoughts. The North Country Trail is served well by being extended into Vermont. The section as currently defined, though not official just yet, is a great start. The diversity of terrain and geology that this short section of the NCT, by comparison, illustrates the best of Vermont and holds up well as a model section for such a venerable trail. The people behind the Vermont initiative are as passionate and motivated as Dave Galbreath and the thousands of other volunteers that step up and make the NCT a great place for an adventure across the north country.
I set out to make some new friends and help build the spirit and tell the story of the NCT. I believe that I have succeeded. I am grateful for the assistance that I received from John, Katherine, Caleb with MALT, and Sue, David and Merle with Moosalamoo Association for shuttling and local knowledge. These managing organizations are well equipped to steward the NCT. I am also grateful to my sponsors for keeping me fueled hydrated and clothed warmly, and the folks at the Waybury Inn for providing me with such comfort and welcoming. I will do this again, maybe next time I will have some companionship along the way.
*Robert Frost – from
Out through the fields and the woods
And over the walls I have wended;
I have climbed the hills of view
And looked at the world, and descended;
I have come by the highway home,
And lo, it is ended.
The leaves are all dead on the ground,
Save those that the oak is keeping
To ravel them one by one
And let them go scraping and creeping
Out over the crusted snow,
When others are sleeping.
And the dead leaves lie huddled and still,
No longer blown hither and thither;
The last lone aster is gone;
The flowers of the witch hazel wither;
The heart is still aching to seek,
But the feet question ‘Whither?’
Ah, when to the heart of man
Was it ever less than a treason
To go with the drift of things,
To yield with a grace to reason,
And bow and accept the end
Of a love or a season?