Wednesday, August 29, 2018
Start: VT 15/Johnson
End: Sterling Pond Shelter
Mileage: 10.6 on LT
Elevation gain/loss: 4393’/1893′
We got up this morning around 6am, after staying up rather too late, but the soft beds gave us deep, restorative sleep. At 6:30am, we were packed up and downstairs, ready for our hearty breakfast. We had OJ, coffee, homemade applesauce, scrambled eggs, and blueberry pancakes with fresh VT maple syrup. We were back on trail hiking by 7:20am.
Thankfully, the morning hike was much easier than we’ve previously dealt with. The trail followed a bike path for a while, then turned onto a dirt road, which eventually turned into a logging road. After that, it finally turned into a trail. We stopped by Bear Hollow Shelter for a water and privy break, and then climbed Whiteface Mountain.
Afterward, we stopped at the Whiteface shelter for a water and snack break.
Then we climbed up Morse Mountain and Hagerman Overlook.
Then we descended into the notch and then climbed up to Madonna Peak, which is the primary summit where Smugglers Notch ski area is located.
We relaxed for a bit in the sun and breeze at the summit, and took some fun pictures on the chairlift. Then we headed down to Sterling Pond shelter, our evening’s destination.
We arrived at the shelter at 3pm. We considered pressing onward, but the next shelter is 5.5 miles away and requires us to climb most of Mt Mansfield first. And our knees ache and it’s pretty here. The shelter is pristine and well maintained, probably because it has a GMC caretaker. There’s a ledge nearby the shelter that looks out on Sterling Pond, with Mt Mansfield in the distance.
We checked out the pond near the shelter, which seemed suitable for water but the bottom was squishy and not to our liking for swimming. And there were storm clouds moving in. In front of the storm clouds, there was strong winds, so I put up a laundry line in the sun and took full advantage of the sun and intense wind. While the clothes were only out for maybe 45-60 minutes, they were either mostly or completely dry when we pulled them down just ahead of a quick downpour. Now, it’s cloudy and the wind has died down a bit, and we’re availing ourselves of the bench on the ledge. Tomorrow will include our climb up Mt Mansfield, so it’ll be full of amazing views but will also be our steepest day of the entire trip.