Ascent of Mount Mansfield on 2016-10-11

Climber: Ian Covey

Date:Tuesday, October 11, 2016
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Mount Mansfield
    Elevation:4393 ft / 1338 m

Ascent Trip Report


Took a long weekend (Canadian Thanksgiving) in October to putt around Vermont, exploring the myriad craft breweries, cheese factories, and beautifully framed with fall foliage towns that make up what's probably my favourite state. Mansfield had been on my list for sometime, and the weather was looking perfect for a mid-week ascent, so Jac and I rented a lodge-y motel room in Stowe for a couple nights. In the morning, we drove south around the base of the mountain and up its West side to Underhill State Park (Stowe is directly east of the mountain, but the routes are steeper, and I was somewhat unfamiliar with how difficult their ascensions might be). We found our way up to the parking area, paid $4, and hit the Sunset Ridge trail by 845, with only one other obvious hiking party around (another young Canadian couple, in fact).

I wouldn't hesitate in saying that this was THE best day of the year to climb Mansfield. A perfectly crisp fall morning, with no clouds in the sky, highs set for the mid-50's (10C+), and scarcely a soul on the trail. The foliage (as fickle a thing as it is) was absolutely breath-taking; I constantly caught myself looking back, once above the tree line, to see just how much green and yellow and orange and red and copper and brown and gold...

It appeared to have snowed just above the tree line the night before, evidenced by random melted puddles and wet trees on the trail, before becoming more obvious in the form of snow-clung shrubs. It made things a tiny bit slippery at times, but not noticeably more difficult.

We arrived at a perfectly clear summit around 1115, spent close to an hour there drinking a solid Vermont Double IPA (by 14th Star), eating our lunches, chatting with other summiteers, and admiring the beautiful panorama. We decided to return via the Laura Cowles trail, which was shorter - because it was steeper - but not, as others have said, unadvisable. It was, admittedly, slippery, but we were down relatively safely in exactly 1.5 hours.

Ignoring the fact that I'm a sucker for Vermont, Mansfield has to be one of my favourite US State highpoints. Certainly the hike was memorable, and for pleasant reasons, which is not always the case in this endeavour.

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