The Inn at the Long Trail to Cooper Lodge
October 13, 2007
LT Miles – 5.9
Total LT Miles – 174.8
Extra Miles – 7
I wake to the unfamiliar sound of an alarm clock, for breakfast at the inn. I sit alone in the dining room and only briefly reflect on my last breakfast here, at a large table with at least five other backpackers.
I’m the only hiker here today, and other guests discuss local leaf-peeping opportunities. I fondly remembered the dining room, with its boulder built into the wall. The pancakes, sausage, and coffee do not disappoint.
I take some pictures in the lobby area before hitting the trail.
“They’re calling for a chance of snow in the mountains tonight,” somebody says.
Tonight I wish to stay on top of Killington Peak, which is the second-highest point in all of Vermont.
The summit is a relatively short hike away, so this day is punctuated by a lot of side trail exploration.
I begin with a one-mile hike back north up to Deer Leap – the rocky overlook visible directly above the inn.
The day is clear, cold, and windy as I observe the traffic below on route 4. There are several day hikers out on this Saturday morning. One remarks about how I’m wearing shorts in this cold weather – I guess I’m just used to it.
Pico Peak stands to the south, omnipotent over Sherburne Pass.
I backtrack to the inn and look up at Deer Leap.
As I’m taking these pictures I see a backpacker come out of the woods, so I scurry back across the street to say hello. This is how I meet Frog, a southbound AT section hiker. He’s from Santa Cruz, California. We talk for a short time. I recommend the bar at the inn, and say that I intend to stay at Cooper Lodge tonight. He has to do laundry and town chores, and I continue on my side trail explorations.
Across the street from the inn is the site of original Long Trail Lodge, the early GMC headquarters that burned down in 1968. It was a marvel of natural architecture, built of logs and adorned with birch bark and other features.
The Sherburne Pass Trail leads up Pico Peak.
The image above looks north from where I came. At the bottom of it you can see the Inn and Deer Leap.
I take a short spur from Pico Camp that leads to Pico Peak, a developed ski summit.
The rime ice reminds me that this is October, and Killington looms ominously above.
I’ll be sleeping up there tonight.
The Sherburne Pass Trail comes to an end with a crossroads at Jungle Junction. Here I follow the AT back north to check out the new Churchill Scott Shelter, which didn’t exist when I came through in 2002. I also remember some picturesque forest in the area that I’d like to revisit on this four-mile, out-and-back side trip.
I turn around and go back after reaching the shelter, causing me to pass the same group of hikers twice.
“Weren’t you just going the other way?” one asks.
I reunite with Frog inside Cooper Lodge. He’s surprised to see me, considering that I left Sherburne Pass a few hours before him.
We hike together up the steep spur trail to Killington Peak.
We’re excited about the possibility of snow, and I observe a column of precipitation to the west.
“Where?” Frog asks.
“You see those beams of light on the horizon over there?”
“I thought that’s God!”
“Okay, you see God?”
“Now directly to the right of God, you see that dark gray area? That’s rain or snow.”
Down at the shelter we meet Craig and Little Bear, who occupy a tent outside. They enter the shelter to cook their dinner and socialize.
They’ve packed in some great food for their overnight trip, and are quite the trail chefs! They serve a bit of trail magic in the form of some turkey stuffing, fudge, and wine. Little Bear is doing the hundred highest peaks in New England, and has a few tales.
I curl up to sleep in the drafty shelter, and hope for snow.