After our frustrating day yesterday, we tried to go all out today and we did! Our first stop was the Gold Brook Covered Bridge outside of Waterbury. We should have gone there yesterday when we went to Cold Hollow Cider as it was very close by but I hadn’t figured that out yet.
In 1849 a young man, Abial Slayton from Stowe went to California to join the gold rushers. After striking it rich he returned to Stowe and then became aware of the presence of gold in what was then called Hull Brook. He set up a sluicing operation and got about $200 in gold before the gold ran dry. The name stuck though and people have been known to try their hand at panning for gold since then.
We drove over the bridge and then I walked over it. The plank boards are wearing and there was even a hole in one place where I could see the brook beneath Yikes, and we traveled over it in a car!
We then continued on to Mt. Mansfield. The fee to get in was $25 for the car and one person and then $9.50 for each subsequent person. Kind of pricey! The road up to the trailhead was 4 ½ miles of curvy, twisty, narrow graveled road. Meeting another car was a little scary as we were on far side of the road, meaning it was a long way down!
We made it to the top parking lot and then walked up to the Visitor’s Center. The center is owned by the University of Vermont and apparently not well kept. It was closed and the only attendant was a young woman who worked with a hiking organization. She said the building was mostly empty and smelled of mold and mildew.
We left on our ten minute walk to see the panoramic view. I’m not sure where the ten minutes was supposed to take us but we went on – and on – and on! We were ill prepared for a hike. We had no boots on, no water, no candy (in case Jerry’s sugar dropped), no Kleenex for my constantly drippy nose and alas, no lip gloss plus no jacket! As we began, I saw a sign that said we were only 3.4 miles from Canada!
However, on we went climbing over rocks. There was hardly a section where we were not climbing over rocks, big rocks. At times we were pretty close to the edge of the mountain. After a while I had to stop but Jerry wanted to go on to the summit. I sent him ahead and sat down on a fairly comfortable rock with my phone and his camera. Suddenly the wind blew up and the temperature cooled. Then it began to rain. I had his camera stuck under my very soiled white t-shirt trying to keep it dry. The wind was blowing so hard that I knew I had to find a shelter from it so up I went. I really was getting uneasy as I didn’t know exactly where Jerry was, I was cold and wet and then my imagination began to go wild. There were no other people around. Were there any wild animals around? I sent Jerry a text that failed to send (he got it tonight) and then I called him. Oddly enough the call went through although it was breaking up. He was almost to the summit and said he should be down in a few minutes. Yeah, right!
I saw some people come down and I asked if they had seen a man in a blue shirt and a cap. Wouldn’t you know out of all the people that I could have asked I asked the one who spoke no English! I don’t know if it was fear, a little rest or Adrenalin but up I went to meet him. I wasn’t too far from the summit when I finally saw him. Relief! Except as I had said earlier it was not a loop trail. We had to hike all the way back to the Visitor’s Center. It was a long arduous hike and we were tired. The rain had caused some of the rocks to be more slippery plus there were more puddles. I noticed as we went up that we were both very careful to avoid the puddles. On the way down we just did the best we could to get around them and sometimes we didn’t. The red Jeep in the parking lot was a pretty sight to behold and the bottle of water was delicious! We were one of only two cars left. Everyone including the young guide had left for the day.
The ride down the mountain was not as scary as coming up. We were next to the mountain, not looking down at where we could land if we made a mistake plus we met no cars. The station was closed when we got down and the entrance was gated. What? Jerry got out and read the instructions for leaving. Unpin the gate and drive forward over the spikes. Do not back up as it will ruin your tires! Oh, my goodness. Not a soul around so we did what it said to do and off we went.
As we were returning to the campground Jerry saw a sign about the Von Trapp Inn and asked if I wanted to go by. He said he surely didn’t want to return that way tomorrow so we rode on up. It is a lovely place but I’m not sure it is reminiscent of Austria!
Today’s hike was my most difficult hike but Jerry said his most difficult was the Gorham Trail in Acadia. We surely had a lot more rocks to climb today! When we returned to the campground I I hit the sofa with an ice pack for my knee, Oh, I slid down one of the rocks landing on my left knee. Ouch. We were two very exhausted people but glad we had survived the trek up Mt. Mansfield.
By the way, what’s the difference in a hike and a walk? Not sure!