Friday, February 10, 2012

XC Ski Getaway - Landgrove, VT

Short version - the skis stayed in the car and microspikes saved the day.

Every year, Holly and I get out of town for a few days and go to the Landgrove Inn, in tiny Landgrove, Vermont, one of our favorite places to stay. There are usually tons of snow in that area, and some really good cross-country skiing, not to mention some fine dining experiences at the Landgrove and other local restaurants. Not knowing what sort of snow conditions we'd find this year, we packed all kinds of gear in the car, and drove up there on Wednesday. What we found was a few inches of old icy hard snow, and even the commercial ski centers looked pretty bare and icy. After checking a few known last-ditch alternatives, we gave up on skiing, and settled for walking instead. The skis, and even the snowshoes, never left the car for the rest of the trip.

On Wednesday afternoon, we took a walk at the Hapgood Pond Recreation Area, a short drive from the Inn. The pond is drained for the winter, but the nature trail winds around it through the forest and provides a nice short walk. This year, the trail was icy and a bridge was out as a result of Irene, so we donned microspikes, adjusted our route, and still got in a decent afternoon outdoors.

On Thursday, we opted for a longer hike. We'd heard about a hike in the Lye Brook Wilderness to Lye Brook Falls, at 125 feet one of the tallest in Vermont. It was only 2.3 miles each way, and seemed like a good way to spend part of a day. The trailhead was just east of Manchester, down low in the snowless valley. We found the trail snow-free, but with a lot of icy patches for much of the way, and microspikes were the footwear of the day. We climbed gradually, mostly on old roads, and reached the spur trail to the falls at 1.8 miles. Heading along the side of the valley wall, we came to a major landslide across the trail, also presumably from Irene or Lee this past summer.

A little further along, we reached the falls and stopped for a light lunch. The falls were ice-covered and stunning, towering high above us. Including the additional cascades below our viewpoint, I read somewhere that the total height is near 180 feet, a good-sized drop.

Heading back out, we reached the car and were back at the Landgrove by early afternoon. That left us time for our annual trip to the Vermont Country Store, just up the road in Weston. We don't always buy anything, but it's a pretty neat place just to browse.

This morning, we had high hopes of getting in another short hike on the way home, but it involved a Vermont State Park (Molly Stark) that was closed for the winter, with no safe parking at the entrance along VT 9. So we headed west toward home, and walked a short distance on a trail to Little Pond, just west of Woodford State Park, and just up the hill from Bennington. We didn't go all the way to the pond, but it was just too nice a day not to do something, and this short walk broke up the trip.

Home now, and pulling my stuff together for another hike tomorrow, this one in the Adirondacks. Check back again!

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