Autumn 2018 Trip Postcards: Okemo Mountain Resort

Friday was a glorious day in Vermont and, after making a quick trip to Rutland with one of my hosts to run some errands, I headed out to Ludlow for a drive up Ludlow Mountain in the Okemo Mountain Ski Resort. My destination was a fire tower at the top of the mountain that would require a drive to a parking area near the top and a 1/2 mile uphill hike.

Fortunately, the road was paved and in decent condition — I’ve been driving my brother’s Maserati this trip and it does not like rough roads or potholes — so the trip to the top, which crossed several of Okemo’s ski runs and wound through the forest, was pleasant and smooth. I backed into a parking spot among about six other cars in a gravel lot. Then Penny and I continued the trip on foot though a half-open gate up a relatively steep gravel road running through dense forest. The sound of trickling water was present, coming from one side of the road or the other all along the way.

My host had told me that I’d have to walk to the ski lift to see the tower in order to find it. While it’s true that the tower wasn’t visible from the road, I did spot a small wooden sign pointing to a very narrow trail into the woods. The tower was just another 1/10 mile away. We took the path.

Although it was a bright, sunny day, the woods were dark and cool. The path was muddy in some places, with large boulders that kept me out of the mud as I climbed over them. Another sign at a fork in the trail directed me to the left. Moments later, we were at the bast of a small, five-story fire tower with spindly legs and a tiny wooden structure on top.

Fire tower atop Ludlow Mountain.

Here’s a view of the fire tower from its base. I shot this after my descent; three hikers are on their way up here.

The steps were steep and I had to carry Penny. (Another benefit of having a small dog.) I paused briefly for a look at each landing. The view kept getting better and better. The steps got steeper and narrower at each level. Soon we were through the trap door and standing in the tiny room at the top.

Panorama from the tower looking east.

Here’s a panorama looking east from the fire tower.

A view of Ludlow from the fire tower.

I could also see Ludlow far down in the valley.

After about fifteen minutes of drinking in the view, I picked up Penny again and carefully made my way back down. We met some other hikers as we made our way back down the trail, including a couple who had stopped upon seeing a garter snake alongside the trail. He pointed it out to me and I got a good look as it slipped away into the brush. His wife was apparently terrified and I heard her whining to him about it even after I’d left them behind on the trail.

Back out on the sunny gravel road, we hiked up to the ski lift. As my host had said, I could see the fire tower from there.

Fire tower in the forest.

The view of the fire tower from near one of the ski lifts.

I also got some great views looking down the mountain along the parked chairs of the lift.

Looking down the ski lift.

A view down a ski lift at the top of Okemo Mountain Resort.

On the way back to the car, I poked around in the forest a bit. This time of year I’m always looking for chanterelle mushrooms. Although I didn’t find any there, I did find other mushrooms growing out of the forest floor.

Forest mushroom.

The obligatory mushroom photo.

We spent a little more than an hour atop the mountain. then it was back in the car for the drive down and a lote lunch.

Autumn 2018 Trip Postcards: Dorset Quarry

While scanning Google Maps for some day trip destinations this morning, I stumbled upon Dorset Quarry. Dating from 1785, it’s the first marble quarry in the area and the oldest quarry in the United States.

A popular swimming hole in the summer, it was pretty quiet on a partly cloudy autumn day. Here are a few photos.

Dorset Quarry.

A view of Dorset Quarry from the north side.

Cut stones.

Piles of very large stones stacked along the north side of the quarry.

Waterfall, creek, and bridge.

The quarry’s large pool is fed by a small creek that cascades out of the forest.

Stones and quarry pool.

Can you see Penny running toward me in this photo shot on the south side of the quarry?

Autumn 2018 Trip Postcards: An ATV Ride in the Forest

I’m in Vermont this week, spending some time with some very old friends. Today, we mounted up on their ATVs and headed out into the national forest near their home on some of the roughest ATV trails I’d ever been on. Here are a few photos.

Penny on the quad.

Penny came along, of course. Although she normally stands on the fuel tank of my ATV when we ride it at home to do chores, this ATV had a smaller tank and the roads were a lot bumpier. So I put her in a milk crate fastened to the front of the ATV. Here we are at the start of one of the trails.

Foundations in the woods.

It’s hard to see in this photo, but there’s a stone foundation of an old 1800s farmhouse here. This was one of many completely cleared farm sites 200 years ago.

Pond-side campsite.

This campsite is my friends’ sons’ favorite.

Wallingford Pond.

Wallingford Pond is more of a lake than a pond. As you can see, the weather wasn’t exactly perfect for fall foliage viewing.

Dam in the forest.

Another narrow trail through the woods took us to this old dam which still provides a farm several miles away with water.

View from the cabin.

Our last stop was an off-the-grid cabin high in the mountains. The views are supposed to be amazing but today the clouds lifted just enough to give me an idea of what I was missing.