I woke up yesterday morning to a stunningly beautiful day, a lot of energy, and a complete lack of desire to do homework. After finishing my reading assignment, I decided to see if there was any hiking to be had around Middlebury. Turns out, there's a 16-mile trail around Middlebury called, appropriately, the Trail Around Middlebury (TAM). It's possible to hike smaller sections of it and start in at different locations. I decided to give it a go. Here's the route I took (click to see a larger version):
After lunch I packed Stephanie's backpack with water, a PB&J sandwich, and a map and set off. The trail head I chose comes out very near the Middlebury gym, so it didn't take long to find on foot. My journey began in the woods as I followed a path that was fairly swampy for long sections, probably due to the heavy rains we've had lately. As it turned out, a LOT of my path was to be covered in water, so when my feet finally got soaked through about a mile in, it was actually a bit of a relief; getting them wet a second, third, or twentieth time isn't so bad.
I came out of the woods into a field, which was to be a pattern for much of the hike. Large sections of the TAM are on private property, so I was as likely to see cows as deer (more likely, in fact. I saw many cows, and no deer). Most of the trail was very well marked with little yellow tags to let me know I was still on the path. Only once did a sign confuse me: "Trail follow north side of ditch." Oh dear, which way is north?? With no compass and a shaky sense of direction (wish I'd inherited dad's uncanny human GPS abilities), I used the sun to guide me to the next little yellow sign. Whew.
I thought I'd meet other hikers on the trail on such a beautiful day, but the only other person I met was a runner who overtook me within the first hour and a half, who also happened to be from the Russian school (what's the likelihood?). I was actually quite surprised that he was running on that trail. Not only was it muddy and gross, but there were lots of tree roots and other things to trip on. I wouldn't have trusted myself to run it. But since I didn't come across him later with a broken leg or anything, he must have been sure-footed enough to get home alright.
Even though my path took me through some very typical fields and woods, I was quite taken with the beauty of my surroundings. To see such fields with the mountains in the backdrop-- simply fantastic. The sun shone all day and it was fairly humid, but a steady breeze kept me pretty cool all day.
The third leg of my hike took me through a nature reserve. I wanted to find the trail that followed the river, but I couldn't find the trailhead, so I ended up walking through the middle of the park (which was also pleasant, though mosquito-y). There were two trailheads, one for bikes and one for no bikes; I took the one for bikes, thinking it might be wider. It turned out to be very lakey, which was no fun to get around, but I managed.
The last leg of my journey was not as interesting, as the "trail" was the sidewalk along the streets of Middlebury. By that point my feet were tired and covered in mud, but I felt so satisfied having walked non-stop for four hours!
As I walked I photographed the flora and fauna I encountered. If you're interested (and there's lots of pictures of mushrooms), click here.
Oh yeah, and then after dinner I watched a stunningly beautiful but depressing movie called "The Banishment." Highly recommended. Then I went to the disco and danced for three or four hours before collapsing into bed at 3 AM. I love active days!
5 days ago