Friday, July 24, 2020

Road Trip: ME, NH, VT, NY

The Morning After the Trip

National Forest, Ripton Vermont

I do love driving back roads and that's pretty much what I did for most of this adventure. I do hate hot and humid weather, and that's what we faced. Bailey fell ill to the conditions. But that's for later. 

The Rig boon docking in the National Forest
We took Route 2 and various roads through NH and into VT. Then we shot down 100B South into Waitsfield VT and Rte 125 up and over to Middlebury's Snowbowl where I planned to boondock. Unlucky... fenced off. Ignoring the barricade we hiked 3 miles of the ski area and then hightailed for the National Forest near the Breadloaf Mountain campus of Middlebury College where I went to grad school. 

I parked in a gravel parking lot where I used to go running from campus and hoped not to be discovered. We weren't. Ultimately, a quiet, fairly cool night. 

As you can see from the photo below, Bailey enjoyed his new bed made from collapsing the kitchen table and seat cushions arranged in a different configuration. I managed to bend the latching thing-a-bob on the table--it wobbles--so there's that to figure out... kinda like my life in retrospect. Next to the photo of Bailey is a section of the decaying woods and bog near our encampment. 

Signage on the Middlebury Snowbowl

Long Trail steeps

Middlebury Ski Club Building

Signage in the National Forest 1. 

Signage in the National Forest 2. 

Signage in the National Forest. 3.  

Stream in Ripton National Forest near Bread Loaf. 
That mountain in the background looks a lot like Bread Loaf Mt. 

Lake Placid to Saranac Lake, New York

From Middlebury, we drove south to the bridge that crosses Lake Champlain into NY at Rouses Point. I remember taking this bridge on trips to race at Lake Placid with the Maine State Ski Team. I must not have paid much attention as the driver because it's a pretty cool drive with lots of edgy twists and turns. Ah, that's the issue: winter driving with lots of wild turns. I was paying attention.  

Saranac Lake, New York: Mount Pisgah Ski Area

            Mount Pisgah from the parking lot.           

From Lake Placid, we did the quick 30-minute drive to Mount Pisgah, a small ski area in Saranac Lake that I had scoped out last January on G-Map.  Mount Pisgah (an unfortunate name in my eyes) is a community-sponsored ski area that includes a mountain bike park. The views are terrific. 

When we arrived, I took Bailey on a walk below the ski area on a bike pathway. There, a slew of kids like 7-year-old Spanky and Our Gang kids were riding bikes with their dads looking on. Soon, the kids were feeding Bailey wild blueberries and he licked them from their hands.  

The Cure...a fairly short but fun mountain bike trail.

Ski trail fees

I wonder if that mountain is Whiteface in Lake Placid.
Look below from a picture I took off the Internet:

Whiteface NY--home of the 1980 Olympics. 

I liked the use of the old K2 skis. Reminds me of the old
skis I have on my side porch. 

Operations hut. 

Alpine starting ramp 

Bailey taking in the day. 


Note the mountain bike trails––good for them! 

Saranac Lake? 

The lodge from the trails with The Rig.  

Top shack

Beartown Ski Area in Beekmantown, NY

Beartown Ski Area Lodge

Driving to Beartown Ski Area took 30-40 minutes. The little ski area is about the height of Scottie's Mountain in Rumford but has several more trails on either side of the main slope. One surprising feature is a network of XC trails at the top of the mountain. 

When I drove in, I saw a worker go into the white basement door of the lodge above. Once I'd gotten my water and put on my high-top hiking shoes, the fellow stepped out of the basement. Come to find out, Mike Collin is retired from construction--what's more, his dad founded Beartown in 1957! 

Their story is much like Scottie's and Black Mountain's, and, I suspect, every other little ski area out there. Volunteers and family passes make the place go. Mike said he comes up nearly every day to work for 4-5 hours on one project or another. It's pretty easy to equate him to Black Mountain's Jeff Knight and Roger Arsenault and so many others. 

I told him how we landed a Libra Foundation grant for $8-9 million dollars. And how that money helped double the size of the mountain, build a fancy lodge, and add two chairlifts. 

"I love hearing those stories," he said. I could tell he wanted to know where they could get their share of the money. 

Listening to Mike tell the story of his dad's mountain (my words, not his) made me think about all the other little ski mountains I've visited. I'm wondering if it might make an interesting book for skiers of a certain age. Maybe I'll write Beartown's story and see how I feel afterward. 

I gave Mike a copy of Words for a Mountain, a fundraiser I wrote for Black Mountain with a foreword by Monica Wood. I suggested Beartown do a similar project and volunteered to help if they happen to have someone on their board who might like to take on the project. I'd enjoy helping them with such a project because it's more than a fundraiser––a book like this tends to capture the ski area's history and that's important for the community. 

Mike had just lost his German Shepherd the week before. He also had a Berner like Bailey. He told me that his Bernese Mountain Dog's ashes were on the mountaintop, and he said he'd be bringing his other dog up soon. I really appreciated this gesture.  

That afternoon, with temps in the 80's and high humidity, Bailey and I took our second short hike of the day. About 50 yards up, Bailey stopped in his tracks ("I'm not going up another hill.") as he has many times on a day like this. I should have listened to him. I kept hiking and eventually he followed. At the summit, we trekked around some of the XC trails. It's fun thinking about the kids racing the trails all over the top of this mountain. Wandering around the XC trails we were in the shade and Bailey seemed fine. On the way down, however, he started vomiting his morning carrot and a yellow liquid. I figured the heat, humidity, and extra treats--not to mention the hike up Mount Pisgah--did him in. Poor boy. 

That night, we stayed in the mountain's parking lot. The van was toasty even with the fans, and I couldn't sleep. Neither could Bailey. At one point he barked gently, his signal for needing to go out. I leashed him up and we walked toward the lodge. I could hear running water from a stream and then a quick movement. Moose? Skunk? Fox? Bailey looked up at me and I at him, and we turned, high tailing it back to the van. Enough adventure for us! 

The next morning he ate his breakfast and chewed on a bone, so I figured he'd recovered from my forced march up the two little ski areas. When he went out to pee, he showed interest in a flock of turkey gobbling their way up the slope... fortunately, he was more interested in taking a nap than running 200 yards up the slope to chase turkeys.  

After Bailey's episode and because of the rainy weather, I decided to call it quits and head home. We drove to Rouses Point in northern New York and crossed the bridge into Vermont. From there, we stayed to the northern most road on our side of the US/Canadian border. At one point on Highway 89, I thought I'd messed up as I started to see French signs and border-crossing instructions. No passport, not an essential worker, and a puky dog at the Canadian border...  what fun that would have been. But, right near the border the last US exit appeared and we headed east.  

We stopped in Swantown, VT and walked around the town green where they had a gated pen for swans. Farther on, we went through Richford, VT and for obvious reasons I took a picture. We swung into Newport VT for a look arou0nd at the lake and town pier. We stayed on the border until we got to Canaan, VT and then headed south toward Colebrook NH, Dixville Notch, Upton ME... and the Mahoosuc Range in Maine.  

For the last 20-25 miles, a green Subaru Impreza followed us all the way into Rumford. I usually go the speed limit in The Rig, but if I think I'm slowing up folks behind me, I pull over. In Rumford, I pulled into Community Energy's gas station and noticed the green car came in the other entrance. Uh-oh, I thought. 

"I hope you don't think I'm stalking you," said the driver whose Impreza had Vermont license plates. His wife stood behind him. 

"I hope I wasn't going too slow."  

"Oh, no," he says, with an easy smile. "My wife couldn't believe the gas prices." 

The couple own a farm in northern Vermont. I explained what I'd been up to and he figured, hearing my route through Vermont, that I may have driven right by their farm. They were off for the weekend to Bar Harbor. Good for them--must be tough for farmers to get away in the summer.  Good people--I could tell. 

My perfect parking in Newport, VT. 

The lake in Newport, VT

My town 

Swantown, VT. I took a picture of the swans on the town green, 
but there it was, gone.  

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