I’ve recently decided to work on my Long Trail Side-to-Side patch and been figuring out when I can do which side trails.  Some of them are fairly local and good for after work hikes, while others are much farther away.  I’ve been hearing about a moose showing up consistently at Sterling Pond on the Long Trail near Stowe, and when a friend saw him and took amazing pictures this past weekend, I knew I had to hike up the Sterling Pond Trail after work and try to see him.  Rebecca and her family joined me.

The Sterling Pond Trail is only 1.1 miles up, but it goes very steeply up.  It’s pretty rocky the whole way, even starting out with many rock steps.  The evening was a humid one but we still made good time up the trail.  We had to stop a few times for Pete to rest and complain (the short one in above photo) but he really did a great job.  Once we made it up to the Long Trail where it was flatter (a statement that normally would never be made about the LT), he was fine.

We turned south first to head the short distance over to Spruce Peak for the views.  I’d also never hiked up to the very summit so Eric and I ran up while Rebecca and Pete waited at the ski lift and its views.  The summit had a rock ledge with excellent views of Mount Mansfield across the street.

Once back down, we went back up the Long Trail to take the Elephant’s Head Trail around the far side of Sterling Pond so I could grab another side trail.  Rebecca came with me this time, while Eric and Pete took the shorter route to the base of the pond.  The Elephant’s Head Trail is a rocky, rooty .7 mile trail but we moved through it quickly.  I was on high alert for moose signs, and once we could see the water, I kept stopping to crane my neck looking for him.

No moose, of course.  I did see a few fresh tracks leading away from the pond, just to rub it in.

Rebecca had gone ahead to catch up with her boys since it was getting dark while I dilly-dallied looking for the moose, but I sped it up once I got back to the Long Trail at Sterling Pond Shelter and headed south again.

I caught up right at the top of the Sterling Pond Trail and we headed into the woods, where it was a little darker.  I managed to stave off putting my headlamp on until we were at least half way down.  We were moving a little more slowly since we had to share lights.  Pete was amped up and loving the hike at this point since it was easier and he was leading the way for his dad.

A nice little 3.7 mile hike and some parking lot cider were a great, spontaneous, after-work treat.