Sunday, January 17, 2021
Start/End: Barnes Camp Visitor Center, Stowe, VT
This was a hell of an afternoon full of Type 2 fun. After hiking yesterday, I visited with my aunt and her partner who live close to Mt Abraham. After my visit, the 1.25 hr drive home ended up taking me over 2 hours due to the road conditions and the continuing snow fall. I had to turn around twice when Google tried to send me down unplowed residential roads my car couldn’t manage, so I didn’t return to my room until midnight, and still needed to shower and prep for the next hike. I decided to sleep in a bit, to allow myself time to reset and for the roads to be better plowed.
The drive to Stowe wasn’t too bad, since it was mostly highway, though I did see some cars stuck down embankments near Waterbury. I found the last parking spot at Barnes Camp Visitor Center, put on my snowshoes, layered up for the bitter wind, and headed out. The Long Trail was lightly packed out by 2 pairs of snowshoes from yesterday up to Taft Lodge so it was easier to follow, but it had also snowed another 4-6″ since then, with heavy winds rearranging the snow into deep drifts. From Taft Lodge, I was breaking trail through knee- to waist-deep snow. After I passed by the Hell Brook intersection, shit got real. It was whiteout conditions and the Long Trail has some steep rock ledges to navigate, some requiring me to rock climb while beating down 2-3′ snow drifts to find the rock underneath, where I did a good job ignoring the 15’+ fall if I slipped.
At the summit, I was forced to crawl on my hands and knees, with the highest winds I’ve ever experienced. The wind was blowing by at 65+ MPH, sanding the skin off my face with ice particles and -10 windchill, and literally knocked me off my feet multiple times. I made it across the summit and then immediately started descending to the left, bushwhacking down a ravine towards the Profanity Trail. I was in waist-deep snow until I wandered my way back to Taft Lodge. I stopped there to swap out for dry gloves and have a snack, and to affirm that I had indeed survived. Then I scurried back down, following my tracks, eager to see if I could feel my toes again if I hiked faster. I quickly made it back to my car, arriving around 3:45pm for four hours, door to door.