I headed south from Montreal on Wednesday back into the States. As much as I love spending time "abroad" (relative term here as Canada is nearly the same as the U.S.), it was comforting to get back in the Lower 48 as I didn't have my phone set up for international use during my week up north, and it was a little stressful not having immediate access to Google Maps and texting at all times of the day. Looking ahead, I realize I'm not going to have a functioning phone for nearly 9 months starting in July, but it was a little unsettling for those few days. With that being said, it made me even more impressed with all people who lived and traveled more than 15 years ago as having a functioning phone is now a luxury we take for granted. It's definitely going to be something I'll have to get used to coming up.
I crossed the border into Vermont, a state I'd never been to before but had heard marvelous things about. From the scenic Green Mountains, to the endless hiking trails, and delicious maple syrup, it seemed like a state I'd probably get along with pretty well. After spending two days driving through it, I'm confident in saying that I'll be returning as soon as I can. What a beautiful place.
After driving south for a few hours through Burlington (with a quick stop at Lake Champlain (pictured above), I hit the town of Rutland which I'd heard about from a friend who's from there. My plan in Vermont was simple: find a scenic campsite to spend the night at and some hiking trails to waste four to five hours in the following day. Easy enough.
Just south of Rutland on Highway 7 you reach the Green Mountains and their endless, awe-inspiring views. It's not often that you might think of the northeastern part of the U.S. as a particularly scenic place, but that is quite the contrary. The Green Mountains have endless rolling hills, valleys, and river gorges that challenge the Appalachians any day of the week.
I looked at my atlas and found a campsite that I imagined would be worth checking out. It was getting later in the day and I needed to find a campsite soon in order to get set up for the evening. Eventually I made my way to a site called Big Branch, and about a quarter mile up the trail found a clean, flat spot to settle for the night.
I've camped only a few times and would by no means call myself an expert of the outdoors. I do, however, love the outdoors and everything there is to do with it, and though I'm not very experienced, I'd consider myself knowledgeable in setting up for a night of camping: preparing a fire, setting up my tent, cooking on an open flame, animal awareness and safety, etc. What I was most nervous about was the weather forecast calling for a chilly 34 degrees later that night. I came prepared, I thought, with what would get me through that cold of a night.
After getting my tent set up, building a fire, enjoying a nice can of open flam-cooked beans, and catching up on a bit of reading, it was finally late enough for me to hit the sack. I think what most people would claim to be most nervous about when camping is the knowledge of not knowing what's beyond your night vision. Any strange noise or hint of an animal within earshot immediately causes your mind to race, and usually it's racing to the immediate conclusion of something harmful. Being by myself, I fully expected this to be the case, however, I was lucky in that just feet away from my campsite was a roaring river which masked all sounds capable of setting of my wandering mind.
Once in bed, I quickly new it was going to be a long night of shivering and endless fetal position maneuvers. The temperature quickly dropped below 40 and I quickly found myself tossing from side-to-side attempting to cover myself with more and more layers. The fetal position, I found, works quite well for reducing your body surface area to keep in heat, and I maneuvered myself between different forms of this position several times throughout the night. After six hours of tossing and turning, the sun finally came up and I decided it was time to restart the fire for some warmth rather than shiver any longer.
Upon leaving my campsite, I continued down Highway 7 toward Bennington and then cut east on 9 toward New Hampshire. The last thing I really wanted to do before entering Massachusetts was a short hike. Without any real trail map, I found a random trail head along the side of the road, parked my car, and started to hike.
While hiking, I found that this particular trail, the Long Trail, extended the entire length of the state of Vermont. Nearly 250 miles worth of twists and turns through forests and over rivers, I'd found but a small piece of this magnificent trail. I hiked maybe six or seven miles of the trail and felt satisfied with my few hours of exploring some of what Vermont has to offer. In just those few miles, I worked my way to a beautiful scenic overlook of Bennington and through some picturesque fields of maple and pine trees. Plenty of time to take awkward Instagram worthy selfies in my attempt to be artsy in the woods.
Once finishing my hike, I continued east along Highway 9, over the peaks of the Green Mountains, and down toward New Hampshire. I cut south toward Massachusetts before hitting the aforementioned state and continued toward Boston, my ultimate destination for Thursday night. All-in-all, Vermont, as I said, will have me coming back at some point in time. I've heard the skiing is great, so I foresee a winter trip in my future. As for Boston, I've got four days here visiting a couple friends who live near Cambridge. All of the touristy things I can do here will likely be completed in the first day followed by some quality time relaxing and catching up.