Jenn joined me for a Christmas Eve hike up the Burrows Trail, which is on the eastern side of the mountain and is the shortest route to the summit. The road from Huntington was in great shape and there was plenty of room at the top trailhead parking lot. Half a dozen other cars were there and we passed the owners of most of them coming down soon after we started up. The trail was packed out so we wore microspikes and didn’t bother to bring snowshoes.
It was a fairly warm day (above freezing at the trailhead) and it started snowing as soon as we started walking. It was 2.4 miles to the summit along the Burrows Trail and Long Trail with 2400′ of elevation gain. The Burrows Trail started out not too steep, but got steeper for about the last third of it. We stopped in the trees right before the hut clearing for lunch because we could hear the wind whipping and knew we wouldn’t be able to hang out on the exposed summit for long.
From there, we turned onto the Long Trail South for the final .3 mile to the summit. We quickly climbed out of the trees and I could barely see as the wind sent sleet driving into my eyes. We went back in trees again briefly and then we reached the open summit. I dashed to a rock where I had sheltered from the wind on my last hike up Camel’s Hump and Jenn followed. It cut the wind by about half, enough to prepare as best I could there for the summit photo I still wanted. I left my pack and tried to walk to the summit. The wind was way too strong, and walking in microspikes on mostly bare rock is not very stable to begin with, so I dropped down to crawl the rest of the way.
Jenn took a few photos and then I crawled back to the shelter rock. She went out for her summit photo and I took a few more of the nonexistent view before starting back down the trail. Frost had collected on my camera by the time I was done.
We had originally thought of doing a loop hike, staying south on the Long Trail and then taking the Forest City Trail back to the trailhead. However, we had decided before the last stretch to the summit that we didn’t want to stay in the wind that long on the Long Trail. Also, we weren’t sure if the Forest City Trail would be packed down and without snowshoes, we didn’t want to take that gamble. After being in the wind at the summit, our decision to turn the hike into an out and back was confirmed.
Once we were back in the trees, it felt so warm! I had added a fleece midlayer before going up to the summit and just kept it on since I’m usually a little colder going downhill. I was very toasty by the time we got back to the trailhead. The snow had stopped on our way down also and it was feeling like a completely different day than it had shortly before.
Merry Christmas from Vermont!