NYT: 6 Days, 6 States, 6 Peaks
By MARK AIKEN
Published: September 2, 2010
THE world’s Seven Summits — the highest mountain on each continent — were in the news this year when the Alaskan climber Vern Tejas set a record by ascending them all in just 134 days. Inspired by him, I set out to climb a few peaks of my own. My challenge would be to hike what I call the Six Summits — the highest point in each New England state. I required no pack animals, porters or supplemental oxygen. Armed instead with a map, compass, hiking boots and a blue Honda, my journey lasted six days and brought me to six unique places. Below is a guide to my quest, presented in order from the point with the highest elevation to that with the lowest.
[See the complete New York Times article here, which includes these Peaks: Mount Washington, New Hampshire; Katahdin, Maine; Mount Graylock, Massachusetts; Mount Frissell, Connecticut; and, Jerimoth Hill, Rhode Island.]
WHY GO Mount Mansfield’s ridgeline spans over a mile in length — all above treeline — and 360-degree views of Lake Champlain, the Adirondacks, the Greens and the Whites are simply spectacular.
WHAT TO KNOW Vermont Route 108 through Smugglers’ Notch cuts around Mansfield’s northern tip and is one of the East’s most breathtaking drives. (During foliage season, it’s also one of the most traffic-laden.) For views of sheer cliffs and great leaf-peeping, hike Mansfield from the Notch.
HOW TO CLIMB IT Familiarize yourself with a local guidebook, because the numerous routes to the summit of Mansfield range from moderate hikes (the ridgeline from the top of the Toll Road) to the strenuously steep (Hell Brook Trail, which approaches from Smugglers’ Notch). The Long Trail — the 270-mile footpath that spans the length of Vermont from Massachusetts to Quebec — and the Sunset Ridge Trail, which approaches from Underhill State Park on the mountain’s western side, are less difficult but worthy climbs. In addition to a Toll Road most of the way to the top, Mansfield also has a gondola, courtesy of Stowe Mountain resort. But you’ll still have to ascend the difficult Cliff Trail.
MY ROUTE I started at the trailhead for the Long Trail on Route 108 and hiked one and two-thirds miles south to Taft Lodge, where I stopped for lunch. After reaching the summit, which I enjoyed along with some 200 other hikers, I traversed the ridge and took about a half-mile walk on the Toll Road to the Haselton Trail, which brought me to the base of the ski area. The trailhead was just over a half-mile walk along Route 108.
BIGGEST CHALLENGE The final quarter-mile to the summit involved some light scrambling and moderate exposure.
LOCAL COLOR If you want to celebrate your high point with a craft beer, you’re in luck: three microbreweries make their homes near Mount Mansfield: the Shed Brewery (1859 Mountain Road, Stowe), Trapp Family Lodge (700 Trapp Hill Road, Stowe; trappfamily.com) and The Alchemist (23 South Main Street, Waterbury; alchemistbeer.com).