Mt. Mansfield – 2/7/2016

A cloudy view from near the summit of Mt. Mansfield, Green Mountains, Vermont

After hiking Ellen and Abraham the day before, I joined the same AMC crew to check out Mt. Mansfield (4,393′).

The plan was to walk the extremely icy road (which wasn’t closed!) to the Sunset Ridge Trail in Underhill State Park, tag Mansfield, and retrace our steps, for a trip of about 6 miles.

Light traction worked on the road, even though my now very much unliked Hillsounds had broken a link giving me no traction on the heel of my right foot, but crampons went on early, as just past the State Park parking area with the lean-to’s, it got very icy.

Winter hikers using crampons on the Sunset Ridge Trail, Mt. Mansfield, Vermont
Crampons came out early today

It was good to break out the crampons for the first time of the year.  And as we went higher up, we definitely needed them.

Several places forced extra careful foot placement and crampon technique, with bad falls or runouts waiting for us if we made mistakes.  It was slow going for a long time, and only got slower the higher we went.

We were in thick clouds for this entire trip.  I’m sure the views all along this trail would have been outstanding, but I’m not complaining.  I like being socked in once in a while.  And once we were out of the trees, the rocks got more interesting, anyway.

Interesting rock on Sunset Ridge Trail, Mt. Mansfield, Vermont
A big, cool rock

We saw some people turn around about a half mile from the summit because their MICROspikes weren’t enough on the ice.  Smart move.  When you need crampons, you need crampons.

The visibility became less and less as we approached the summit, making for interesting scenery.  Days like this are the reason the companies making outdoor gear use such bright colors – for photographers to ooh and ahh at against the dull surroundings.  My iPhone didn’t grab those colors well today – it usually does.  I think it was half frozen.

An Appalachian Mountain Club hiking team approaches the summit of Mt. Mansfield, Vermont
Approaching the summit

We didn’t stay too long on the summit – there wasn’t much to see, and I got the feeling I wasn’t the only one who was ready to get home.  It had been a great but long weekend.

A winter hiker on the summit of Mt. Mansfield, Green Mountains, Vermont
Summit selfie

On the way down, just before dropping into the trees, we were surprised with a quick break in the clouds.  The shape and the color of the clouds below made me feel like I was much higher up than I was.  It was nice.

Hiking above the clouds in winter on Mt. Mansfield, Green Mountains, Vermont
Above the clouds on Mt. Mansfield

We made good time on the descent, reaching the cars at about 1:15.  I was already packed up from the night before, so I didn’t need to stop at Pete’s condo to pick anything up – I was on my way home.

While everyone else in the country was preparing for the Super Bowl, I was flying down 89 with the road all to myself.

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