Elevation gain: 1760' (1060' for Bald Top)
Trails used: Bald Top Trail/Cross Rivendell Trail.
Some hikes you go through a case of "no matter how good you're plans are, they could possibly get screwed up in some way, shape or form". Today was one of those days, unfortunately. We knew there would be snow showers at some point today, which would hinder views of any kind so we went with our bread and butter: a bushwhack to two, possibly three peaks in Vermont.
Failed attempt number one: Corporation Mountain and Round Mountain.
We parked outside the gate for the Chittendon Brook Campground, which is obviously closed for winter, but open for cross country skiing and snowshoeing.
While walking on the cross country ski trails, we came across this moose which had been feeding on the hobblebush buds along side of the road.
Brian walking back to the car after we decided to call the hike due to horrible snowshoeing conditions. We didn't feel like breaking trail through 4+ miles of snow today.
Yes, it wasn't the snow coming down that would be a problem. It was the snow already on the ground, which turned out to be rather horrible for snowshoeing today. The top was a hard crusty snow so when you stepped on top of it, you sank down to about your knee and had to work harder to get it out to take another step.
So, I had a second hike in the wings for a plan B hike. It turned out it was not too far down the road from where we were so off we went.
Failed attempt number two: The Darning Needle.
We parked off of Townsend Brook Road and were going to use the VAST snowmobile trail system to go within less than half a mile of the summit of the Darning Needle. We walked in about a mile before Brian realized we overshot the snowmobile trail that branches off the main trail and heads towards the summit.
Like the prior hike, once we hit the secondary trail, the snow downhill. Almost the exact same conditions as the prior hike. The problem was that this secondary trail had not seen any recent snowmobile traffic so it wasn't as packed down and groomed as the main trail. So it was strike two.
Eventually, I looked at the map and saw Bald Top. I had done some information gathering recently and knew that it had trails to the summit. We possibly couldn't strike out again, could we?
Bald Top is located in Fairlee, Vermont and the hike utilizes a section of the Cross Rivendell Trail. A crude map for the hike and a few other trails in the area can be found here. Information on the Cross Rivendell Trail can be found here.
We parked at the Blood Brook Road Trailhead and started off snowshoeing on this snowmobile trail, that does not go all the way to the summit.
The Bald Top Trailhead kiosk. There is a map of the Cross Rivendell Trail, as well as general hiking information available here. Sadly, there were no actual trail maps for us to take.
Not sure if it was logger's who did this or locals, but it was kind of neat nonetheless.
Brian pushed his luck though and Treebeard thought he would take a bit out of this smelly orc.
The snowmobile route continues along this stand of trees.
We would turn left and head up the Bald Top Trail to the summit of Bald Top. In some spots, the snow was soft and mushy, and others it was hardpacked. In a few areas, signs of spring (no snow) made their presence known.
Finally approaching the summit of Bald Top. Sadly, since it was snowing, we would not get very many long distance views from its open summit.
The summit area of Bald Top Mountain (elevation 1776'). Several different trails head in different directions from the summit (one looked to be a private trail), including the Cross Rivendell Trail that heads into New Hampshire.
Nearby May Hill and Echo Mountain from the summit of Bald Top.
With very little chance for views making an appearance, we decided to head back down.
We decided to hop off the Bald Top Trail and bushwhack down on some old cross country ski tracks. We came across this logging area that looked like a snowmobile had been through here.
Nearby horse farm along the Bald Top Trail/snowmobile trail.
Sometimes you can't do what you set out to do so you improvise. We did that and we saw each effort turn into defeat due to the snow. The last hike was a hail mary and although it didn't totally disappoint, it wasn't exactly what we wanted to do for all the time spent driving. Spring time is here but nicer weather is still around the corner.