Mt. Mansfield: The Biggest Chin I've Ever Seen
On Sunday I drove up to tackle Mt. Mansifield, another VT 4,000 footer, with my cousin. They say from the east Mt. Mansfield looks like a face with a forehead, nose, lips, chin, and adams apple. The chin is the highest point at 4,393 ft, but the rest of the facial features fail to make the 4,000 footer list because of the prominence rule. I was expecting a pretty short hike, it being only 4.8 miles round trip, but it was more challenging than I expected. That being said, I loved this hike through and through so it was a great way to spend the day.
It was a perfect bluebird hiking day with not a cloud in the sky. Just a few miles from the trailhead we saw a huge black bear and a small cub cross the road, my first bear sighting of the year so far! The majority of the hike followed the long trail, starting with beautiful bridges in a marshy bog. There were really great views of Smugglers Notch, and the sunny weather made for lots of other hikers on the trail.
The wooded trail started at a gradual incline and increased in difficulty as time went on. It wasn't really challenging for the first two miles, but being a little bit out of shape left me huffing and puffing on the way up. It was also pretty humid with some mud on the trail, so that made things a bit more difficult as well. When we neared treeline we looked up and saw the rocky face of the mountain we would be climbing shortly. It looked so steep and far to the summit!
As we broke treeline and started the really steep climb to the summit of the chin, the relatively easy trail quickly became very steep and more difficult. There were pretty large patches of snow in some spots on the trail, but all were manageable without any traction. The snowy sections were actually kind of nice to cool down a bit because being above tree cover with the sun out was getting pretty hot.
After the last snowy section the real scrambles began. I haven't done many rock scrambles with the snowy winter we had, so this brought back the joy that I've always felt doing a really difficult hike. There were some spots where I was reaching high for handholds, and I really had to focus on strategizing my steps, but it was so much fun! Even if it was only for a third of a mile.
When we reached the summit the 365 degree views were a great reward. We sat on the rocks overlooking the vast view from other Vermont peaks, to the Adirondacks in New York, and even to the Whites and Canada. There was a volunteer at the top pointing out the different summits in the surrounding areas. We shared the summit with many other hikers including some kids and dogs while we had a snack.
On our trip back down the mountain, the steep rocky sections were a little bit difficult but not too bad. We had to watch our footing and it definitely would have been more of a challenge if things were wet or slippery. We made a quick stop to see the views from the adams apple, but we didn't stay for long.
Our way back to the car seemed quick and easy, I think mostly because my cousin and I were chatting and catching up the whole way down. I'm usually too out of breath to talk much on the way up, but during the descent it makes the hike fly by. When I'm solo the descent is one of my least favorite parts about a hike, but with other people it's really enjoyable.
Mansfield was a little bit of a sneaky tricky hike with its short mileage masking its true difficulty. There were very steep sections that were lots of fun to navigate and the views made it all worth it. Now that I'm done with the majority of the Vermont 4,000 footers, it's safe to say that I really enjoy hiking there and the Green Mountains are a nice departure from the Whites.
Mt. Mansfield the Chin (4,393 ft) and Adams Apple (4,121 ft) via. the Long Trail and Hell Brook Tr. [5.96 mi, 1352 ft, 4:28].
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