Tuesday, July 1, 2014

An "anniversary" trip to Mt. Abraham

Of the 5 peaks in Vermont that exceed 4000 vertical feet, Mt. Abraham (aka Mt. Abe) is the lowest at 4006 feet.  But, unlike Mt. Ellen, its peak is not covered by trees, so there are great views in all directions - Killington and Ascutney to the south, the mountains of the Appalachian Trail in New Hampshire, Mt Ellen, Mt. Stark and Camel's Hump to the north, and to the west, Lake Champlain and the Adirondacks.

In 1984, my wife (we were a couple then, but not yet married, or even engaged) and I had a week off between our finals after our last semester of college and our graduation.  We decided to visit her family in Vermont.  One day, being somewhat bored, we pulled out a hiking guide and looked for a good hike for the day.  We settled on Mt. Abe and summited the peak in late May of that year.

We've climbed it many times since then, but it's been a few years now.  To be honest, since giving up training for ultras, I am spending a lot less time on the trails here in VT.  It was not uncommon for me to hit 25-30 summits in a season while training for tough ultras, but that seems to be in the past.  I've done stuff like climbing Mt. Mansfield three times in a row and doing an out and back double summit of Mansfield.  I've even climbed all 5 of the 4000 foot peaks in one day.  But recently, I've been doing more CrossFit and easy runs around the neighborhood at home.

With the rivers too warm for fishing, a hike was the perfect thing for a Sunday afternoon.  While thinking about where to hike, I realized it had been just over 30 years since our first Mt. Abe hike.  And, of the 4000 foot peaks, to be honest, that's the easiest hike, at only 5.2 miles round trip and maybe 1600' of climbing.

We got a somewhat late start on the trail, at about 1:30.  I figured it would be just over a 3 hour hike for us.  One of the reasons we decided to hike was to hopefully get into some cooler air at elevation.  But, for most of the hike, the humidity and temperatures remained stifling.  About 1:45 after we started, we got to the summit and found a decent crowd and some light breezes at the top.  At the top, we rested for about 15 minutes.  My wife had some food while I took some pictures, and I had her snap one of me as well.

I have no idea why I looked so grumpy in the photo.  I was honestly having fun, so maybe my wife snapped it when I wasn't paying attention.  My face gives the impression that I'm absolutely miserable.

While we had been hiking up the mountain, I had suggested that we were in the neighborhood to make a stop at Prohibition Pig in Waterbury, a high quality watering hole that we don't get to visit very often.  I think that gave us both an incentive to move well on the way down, and it took just under 90 minutes to get back to the car and head for Waterbury.

I would love to be able to repeat this hike with my wife again in 30 more years.

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