Monday, July 25, 2011

#52 and #53 Mts. Abraham and Ellen, Vermont

#52 Mt. Abraham (4,016') and #53 Mt. Ellen (4,083'), Vermont via Monroe Skyline (Lincoln Gap) and Jerusalem trail - July 9, 2011. 

Mileage: About 10 miles (traverse)

Elevation gain: 2500'ish

Trailhead: Jerusalem Trailhead (leave a car there): Taken from  
From I-89 North, take exit 9 towards US-2/Middlesex/Moretown/VT-100. Drive 0.2 miles and turn left onto Center Road. Drive 0.1 miles and turn left onto US-2 East. Drive 0.6 miles and turn right onto Vermont 100B South. Drive 7.9 miles and continue straight on VT-100 S/Main Street. Continue to follow VT-100 South for 5.4 miles and take a slight right onto VT-17 West. Drive 12.2 miles and turn left onto Jerusalem Road. Drive 0.7 miles and turn left onto Jim Dwire Road. The parking lot will be roughly a half mile on the right side of the road

To get to the Lincoln Gap Road parking lot from the Jim Dwire Road parking lot: From Jim Dwire Road, turn left onto Jerusalem Road. Drive 0.8 miles and continue on Downingville Road. Drive 3.6 miles and turn left onto Quaker Street. Drive 0.9 miles and take the third left onto E River Road. Drive 1.1 miles and continue onto Lincoln Gap Road. Drive roughly 3.5 miles to the Lincoln Gap parking lot which will be on the right side of the road. 

We spent the weekend at the Black Bear Inn to complete our last three VT 4ks.  Vermont has 5 4000 footers on the New England Four Thousand Footer list. (We'd already completed Mt. Mansfield and Camel's Hump in 2008 - see previous reports on Camel's Hump and Mt. Mansfield). 

Black Bear Inn is in Bolton Valley, one hour from the trailheads but Eileen's nephew raved about the place so we decided to try it out. The upside was that the Inn is located close to Waterbury for those who wanted to join us for a fun weekend but did not want to hike both days.  It is a very nice place and the Innkeeper made arrangements for those hiking early in morning to have breakfast before heading out.
By Friday, our group had grown to 9 people, with 7 hiking the traverse.  We left a car at the Jerusalem trailhead and drove two others to Lincoln Gap on a steep and windy road that crested at the trailhead (road is closed in the winter).  Skies were overcast when we started out on the rolling trail that eventually steepened.    Found an interesting outhouse.

Why can't we pee in it?!

It was misty, cold and windy when we reached the clear rocky summit of Mt. Abraham (adorned with two USGS markers on top - one declaring it Potato Hill). That mist managed to stay with us for the trip, at least at the higher elevation.

Shortly after summitting we headed down into the woods, toward Mt. Ellen.  On the left, we took a small detour to see the Cessna plane wreck, which was cool (no one was hurt in that crash). 

Don't miss a visit to the crash area.
Before reaching Mt. Ellen we managed to hit 3 other summits: Lincoln Peak, Nancy Hanks Peak and Cutts Peak.

We were on the Monroe Skyline, which was mostly treed, with peeks here and there of the Vermont landscape below.  We would have seen more with clearer skies.

There is some navigating through ski slopes. So long as we stayed to our left we found the trail. Some temporary cairns were built to show us the way.  When we got to Mt. Ellen, the "Mt. Ellen" sign we saw in some online photos was gone and there was an interesting cairn in the middle of the trail.  We met a dozen people here, each asking "is this Mt. Ellen?" when they got to the cairn.  I actually took photos to compare it with the ones I found online to make sure we were at the right place.

After lunch we headed down to the junction of Jerusalem trail.  The trail had a few big rocks but eventually turned into a gentle path that was easy on our feet.  

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