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My Mansfield Curse

by Rob Friesel

Profanity Trail

I first hiked Mt. Mansfield in the summer of 2002.  A. & I had just moved up here, I was working an inhuman series of overnight shifts, and our first visitor had come up to see us and decided that in one of the two precious daytime afternoons where he and I could hang out, that we would hike Mansfield.  At the time I was neither in particularly good shape nor did I have any knowledge of the mountains stature.  I foolishly agreed and thus on the hottest, haziest day of the year, Mark and I took to the summit up the Long Trail from VT-108.

By the time we reached The Chin, I was out of breath, miserably hot, and on the verge of blisters.  We looked out over the valley and saw…  Well, not much.  What’s worse, we were overwhelmed by fat retirees and their arthritic wives, all of whom had taken the gondola up from Stowe.  So exhausted was I (and furious at these paunchy septuagenarians) that rather than explore the ridgeline, I urged Mark that we should descend forthwith.

That, I believe, signaled the beginning of what I have now come to think of as My Mansfield Curse.

With my dad in town, we decided to fit a hike into his visit these past couple days.  His peak-bagging passion demands that we cannot pursue a peak less than 4,000 feet and as he and I have already bagged Abraham and Camel’s Hump together, our list was starting to get short, indeed.  After some deliberation, we opted for Mt. Mansfield.

The weather report from the night before made it sound like a perfectly suitable day for the hike.  Highs in the upper 60s, humidity in the 50-60% range, partly cloudy in the morning.  But then the morning of, we discovered that the “partly” had been dropped from the “cloudy” and a rain was moving through the valley.  We decided to go for it anyway.  After all, the VPR weather report was saying that the rain was on its way out and that skies would be clearing up by noon or so.  Our amateur evaluation of the skies yielded similar predictions.  “See, looks like these are going to break up just fine.”

Only they did not.

Sparing you the tedious mile-by-mile, yard-by-yard synopsis, we made the hike as planned, weather conditions be damned.  Truth be told it turned into quite an adventure.  If you’re familiar with the hike, picture that last quarter mile: scrambling up those rocks with the temps dipping into the 50s (perhaps the 40s?), the stone slick with rain and condensation, visibility out to maybe 100 feet, and the 50 mph wind gusts threatening to tear you right off.  Now (again, if you’re familiar with the mountain) that would be reason enough to insist up the Haselton Trail back down.

Now, though I regret nothing, I must insist upon a hiking it again.  Lest all of my pictures look like this.

About Rob Friesel

Software engineer by day, science fiction writer by night. Author of The PhantomJS Cookbook and a short story in Please Do Not Remove. View all posts by Rob Friesel →

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