Tackling Camel's Hump for the Second VT 4k of the Day
Saturday morning started out with a long drive up for Mt. Killington, and since I got the opportunity to stay in St. Albans that night I decided that I would tag another peak on my way north. St. Albans is only a few miles from the Canadian boarder, so it was going to be a long drive from Killington to there either way. Camel's Hump was kind of in between, so I made a quick stop for a quick little hike to one of Vermont's best viewpoints.
When my friend and I finished Killington, it was about 12:45, but I knew with the two hour car ride I would be able to rest a bit before tackling my second 4,000 footer of the day. I often peakbag in New Hampshire and summit multiple peaks in one hike, but I've never attempted two separate hikes in one day before. I was a little nervous about the weather, with the radar showing rain and possible thunderstorms late in the afternoon. Camel's Hump is another easy hike and only about 5 miles, so I figured I could be zip up and down quickly before the weather rolled in.
When I got to the trailhead for Burrows Trail it was very rural to say the least. In fact the last half hour of the drive had no cell reception whatsoever. It was at the end of a long dirt road that seemed mostly residential, but there were many cars parked. I have a feeling that if I was a few hours earlier, there would have been no more spaces. I started around 2:30, a late start that motivated me to go quickly. Sunset was supposed to be at 8:30, but I knew with dark rain clouds, nightfall would feel much earlier. According to the radar I had until about 7:00 before the worst of the rain would arrive, so I gave myself a 4:30 turnaround time. This mean that no matter what I would head back to the car then to avoid being stuck in the dark and bad weather.
As I started up the gradually ascending trail, I realized that the season really makes a difference for these hikes. The trail was very muddy in some spots and the black flies were horrendous. The air was stiff and humid with the incoming storm, and there was no breeze to be found. The black flies were swarming, and although keeping a fast pace for my first hike did the trick, it didn't help for this hike. I was also breaking in a brand new pair of hiking boots, so I could feel blisters forming on my feet with every step even despite the duct tape protection on my heels.
The terrain was muddy but only a gradual uphill grade. I started to feel a little lightheaded midway through, but I quickly realized it was an issue of dehydration mixed with a lack of food. I had a maple syrup shot (thanks Todd!) with some nuts to replenish my energy before continuing on the ascent. I'm not really a fan of the energy goo packets because I feel like they taste like chemicals, but I really liked the maple syrup one! It felt very Vermont of me to be drinking Vermont syrup on the side of a mountain.
Just before I made it to the Long Trail where the alpine zone started, I found the last rotting remains of a snowy winter monorail that was deteriorating with the warm weather. I glanced back to my microspikes attached to my pack, but didn't put them on just yet. Luckily there was no other snow on the trail after this at all. I also didn't realize that there was a portion of this hike above treeline, but it was a nice surprise to have some views. I was hoping for there to be a breeze to ward off the bugs a bit, but unfortunately I was not in luck. This being said, the views were gorgeous so it took my mind off of the annoying swarm that had surrounded me all afternoon. I assume the syrup didn't help.
The summit was really gorgeous. It was a large, open, rocky face with lots of different places to sit and take in the views. I love these wide open summits because even if there are a few people around there's still a sense of serenity. I chatted with a few other hikers and had a snack before heading back down the way I had come. I was planning on making a loop down Forest City Trail so that I could see the remains of a plane crash from the 40s, but I could see very dark clouds to the west and I was worried about thunderstorms while I was up high on the ridge. I was also pretty tired from the hike earlier, so I didn't want to push it especially solo.
The way back down was even worse bug-wise than before. I was literally running down the trail trying to get rid of them but nothing was working. With every step I promised myself that this would be the last time I would ever forget bug spray. By the end of the hike I was exhausted both mentally and physically, so I was glad to get back to the trailhead and seek shelter in my car.
It was a long day of driving and hiking, but it felt great to summit two out of the five Vermont 4,000 footers. Although my plans for Mt. Mansfield the next day were thwarted by thunderstorms, it was a really great day of hiking in Vermont. I learned a lot about the terrain, black fly season, and the beauty that Vermont holds above 4,000 feet. And to top it off I got a chance to go to Ilsley's, a great ice cream stand in Were, NH on the way home!
Camel's Hump (4,083 ft) via. Burrows Trail and the Long Trail [5.15 mi, 2237 ft, 3:00].
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