Mount Mansfield, 4,395 ft
Date climbed: July 4, 2009 7:59pm
Eric and Matthew Gilbertson
July 4th – 5th, 2009
190 miles biking
5 miles hiking
Mount Mansfield was our last remaining highpoint within easy striking distance of Boston, and it had proven a difficult mountain to get to. It’s not as close as the White Mountains, and thus it was more
difficult for us to convince someone with a car to go on a trip there. After a failed attempt in February 2009 to convince drivers to come with us, we finally decided to take matters into our own hands – we would just bike to Mansfield. Well, not the whole way (that would be over 460 miles round trip – quite a
lot for one weekend), but with a little help from public transportation. On a Friday night we biked over to South Station, put our bikes in boxes, and hopped on a Greyhound to White River Junction, Vermont. It’s quite a hassle disassembling your bike to fit it in a bike box, but worth it for another state highpoint. Next time I do a trip like this I’m definitely getting a foldable bike.
We arrived at White River Junction around 10pm, and immediately reassembled our bikes and started riding. We were still 85 miles from Mansfield and needed to find a place to stealth camp for the night. Luckily we knew exactly where the Appalachian Trail crossed the road only 10 miles from the bus stop, and we knew we could camp there without qualms. We were on the trail and camping under a tarp by midnight. The next morning we started biking north, taking a short ice-cream break in Montpelier and reaching Smugglers Notch and the trailhead by about 6pm. We
ducked into the woods looking for a place to stash our bikes just as it started to rain. Somehow we stumbled upon a huge overhung boulder just out of sight of the road – perfect! We could keep the bikes dry while we hiked and keep ourselves dry at night. We were
trying to go ultralight and had just brought a measly tarp instead of a tent, which would have still left us wet in the rain. With all the extra gear stashed we started up the trail, determined to reach the top before sunset.
There were a few different routes to choose from and the Hell Brook looked the shortest, steepest, and most interesting. So up we went. It was probably 3 or 4 miles up and we made it to the roof of Vermont – the chin of Mount Mansfield – just before sunset. It was really cold up there for early July! Probably in the mid 40s with rain and wind, so not too much fun. We did our traditional state summit rituals of jumping pictures and me juggling 5 rocks on the summit, and then headed down. It was a little tough navigating above treeline in the fog at night, but we found our way back to the Hell Brook trail eventually, and made it back to our nice dry boulder by 10pm. This happened to be the 4th of July, and we could hear fireworks going off in the valley but it was too cloudy to see anything.
There was no time for fooling around the next morning as we had 85 miles to bike to catch a 7pm bus back to Boston. Luckily it was mostly downhill this time and the sun had finally come out. We made it back in time and our bike boxes were miraculously in the same place we had hidden them on the side of the bus stop. We spent about half an hour disassembling our bikes again and got everything on the 7pm bus without a hitch, making it back to Boston late Sunday night for the end of another action packed weekend.
More pictures on MITOC Gallery: http://mitoc.mit.edu/gallery/main.php?g2_itemId=252130