Camel’s Hump – 11/21/2015

Hiker approaching the summit of Camel's Hump, Vermont
Rich approaches the summit of Camel’s Hump

Seeing Camel’s Hump so many times in the distance from the White Mountains, we thought this would be a good one to pick for the first mountain in Vermont.  The drive up 89 is long but easy, and a nice change of scenery from New Hampshire.  Fewer trees and more farms next to the highway.

It was a very warm day for November, and recent rains left the trail pretty muddy, with lots of ice higher up.  This is a super easy hike (by way of the Burrow’s Trail), and it’s short, too – 4.8 miles round trip, 5.6 if you check out the plane crash, which is worth it.

At the start of the trail, you’ll find this sign:

Sign at the start of Burrows Trail, Camel's Hump, Vermont
Sign at the start of Burrows Trail

Apparently there is quite a bear population on Camel’s Hump, cool!  I was sure we wouldn’t be seeing any, as the parking lot was full.  This is a state park, the trail is not hard, and the view is amazing, so this is more like a day on Chocorua than Mt. Isolation.  Lot’s of people… probably not seeing a bear.  Easily 50% of the people on this hike had dogs with them, so definitely no bears.  There’s a bullet on the bear sign about keeping your dog on a leash.  Never saw a leash.  Come on, guys.  Not everyone loves your dog as much as you do.  Wild animals definitely don’t.

The trail is very mellow until you get to the backside of the giant cliff that falls away from the summit.  Even there, it only gets mildly steep, with short lengths of truly steep hiking.  Burrow’s Trail on a cool day with dry ground would be a very quick trip indeed.

When you reach the junction with the Long Trail at a nice open area, you’ve only got .3 miles to the summit.  This would be a good place to eat or layer up in the shelter of the trees if there’s a cold wind blowing.

Only a few yards onto the Long Trail, the views start.  First it’s here and there through the trees – some glimpses of Lake Champlain and the Adirondacks, then the mountains to the north.  Eventually the trail leaves the trees completely and it all comes together, now with the White Mountains of New Hampshire and even some peaks in Maine.  This really is a great summit, with a very steep and long drop off its south side, which is easily recognized from far away.

It was nice to see the Adirondacks as more than dark blue smudges on the horizon from the Whites.  It was also nice to see the Whites as dark blue smudges on the horizon.

Presidential Range of New Hampshire from Camel's Hump, Vermont
The Presidential Range of the White Mountains

After a break to take in the views from the summit, we moved on down the Long Trail and then the Alpine Trail to see the wreckage of a WWII era plane crash.  The section of the Long Trail near the summit on the way to Alpine was fun, some very mild scrambling and open views.  One section reminded me of the “kissing stone” on Mt. Kilimanjaro’s Great Barranco Wall, just not as tight.  The wreckage is tough to miss, there’s no bushwhack off the trail to get there.

Plane wreckage on Camel's Hump, Vermont
Plane wreckage on Camel’s Hump Alpine Trail
Wreckage from a WWII plane on Camel's Hump, Vermont
Inside the plane wreckage on Camel’s Hump

Looking into the history behind the crash when I got home, I couldn’t help but notice how many planes have crashed on the mountainsides of Vermont, and in NH, too.  Worth a few minutes on Google, for sure.

The hike back to the summit was nice, a different perspective on some of the interesting rock features I didn’t notice on the way down.

Interesting striations in the rock on Alpine Trail near summit of Camel's Hump
Interesting rock on the Alpine Trail

We stopped at the summit again – the light had changed and the Adirondacks over the lake were really looking great.

Adirondack Mountains from summit of Camel's Hump, Vermont
Adirondack Mountains from Camel’s Hump summit

I also wandered around the summit a bit more, and found this interesting frozen puddle.  See the man in the ice?

The shape of a man frozen into ice
The man in the ice

It was nice to get back to the car with daylight to spare for the long drive home.  Camel’s Hump was a great intro to the 4000 footers in Vermont, I’m looking forward to going back.

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