On the day before Easter, I wanted to try a new backcountry route. I convinced the Skimeister to drive to Montpelier, Vermont, and head north a bit to ski on the Middlesex Trail toward the summit of Mt. Hunger.
Saturday was a beautiful day: blue skies with mountains that were frosty-white on the top. It was windy, but it didn't bother me as I marched my way up the mountain through the snow. No one had been on the trail for some time, so we were breaking trail. In some places the wind packed the snow so it wasn't too deep, but other spots collected the snow and it could be 8 inches deep or so.
Rain and sun the week before had created a crust that was under the new snow. In some sunny and windswept places along the half-mile access to the trailhead, that layer of ice was all that was there. When you were on those patches, you really needed ice skates to do anything. I just went for the ride.
As we got to the start of the Middlesex Trail, we put skins on our skis. The snow started getting better, and deeper as we ascended. We ducked under ice-laden branches and fallen trees along the way. We climbed up to the intersection that branched off to White Rocks and Mount Hunger. We headed toward Mt. Hunger knowing that there was a vista in this direction. It would make for a good place for lunch in the sun and a point to turn around.
The vista point was beautiful, and I sat in the sun and soaked it all up. We looked east toward the Northeast Kingdom and New Hampshire. If you positioned yourself right, you could also see the Presidential Range in New Hampshire. What a place to be on a clear day!
I've hiked Mt. Hunger in the summer from the Waterbury side of the Worcester Range (Mt. Hunger is bald at the top, making for wonderful panoramic views), but this was the first time I had been on the eastern side of the range. From the vista point we could check out the top of White Rocks above us; it is just south of Mt. Hunger. The trees were so icy and snowy that they looked like they were made of frosting.
The descent was quick—it always seems so much faster than the climb up! We got some decent turns, although I wiped out about five times because the crust and powder combination was tricky for me and my light backcountry gear.
We estimated the round trip from the car to be about 4.5 miles. Someone had skied or snowshoed part way up after us and poached some of the powder (!), but otherwise, we didn't meet anyone on the trail.
It was a <link category backcountry-skiing external-link-new-window external link in new>backcountry ski that had a great reward at the vista point. Afterwards, we dined at NECI's Main Street Grill. That's the New England Culinary Institute's restaurant in downtown Montpelier. A nice spot with some good pub food. All in all, it was a great day to be <link internal-link internal link in current>skiing in Vermont!