While we have hung up our skis and snowshoes and do not want to trample the trails while waiting for hiking season, we can walk about the neighborhood and back roads to take note of Spring miraculously unfolding. Walking is the best way to give full attention to the amazing events taking place.
The tiny yellow flower now seen if you look is Coltsfoot, one of the earliest wildflower to bloom. It seems to favor roadside ditches and banks with the worst looking soil. It's stem is short and not at all green. When blooming is done, green leaves in the shape of a colts foot will appear.
Garlic mustard is another interesting plant now. The leaves are thumbnail size and delicious in a salad or sandwich. Pick all you want. There is an endless supply. In fact, look close. You will see tiny baby garlic mustard plants near by. Lots of them. Each has two round leaves the size of pinheads.
It is fun to try to guess what plants you are seeing when noticing the variety of new green leaves. Often you can find last year's dried stem and flower head to provide clues.
Besides looking on the ground to marvel at all that is springing forth, look up at the trees. Can you identify the tree by its flowering habit or tight leaf buds? You can always check later when they leaf out.
These guidelines were created by a staff-volunteer working group in June 2020 and have been edited to reflect current conditions and guidance. Trip leaders and participants have done a great job following the guidelines and putting safety first.
Vermont’s caseload is still higher than at any point during the 2020 hiking season. While multi-household recreation is permitted, we encourage each leader and participant to consider their own COVID-19 risk profile and take every possible precaution when considering outdoor recreation with others.
Please see the links below for specific information for Trip Participants and Trip Leaders.
Trip Participant- GMC’s GUIDELINES FOR SECTION OUTINGS IN THE AGE OF COVID-19 Edited April 1st, 2021
Trip Leader- GMC’s GUIDELINES FOR SECTION OUTINGS IN THE AGE OF COVID-19 Edited April 1st, 2021
Mud Season Reminder
A reminder that spring mud season runs from snowmelt until the trails are dry, usually around Memorial Day weekend. With some extra warm days in late March this year, mud season conditions have certainly arrived in many parts of the state. We ask all hikers to please stay off high-elevation trails, and any other trails with significant mud, in order to avoid erosion and damage to the vegetation.
Depending on conditions, State Forest trails may be closed by the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation, so please respect closure signs and avoid wet trails even if it is not posted closed. If you encounter a muddy section of trail, please turn around and find a dry trail.
Some roads and trails are usable in mud season, especially low elevation trails with southern exposure, which dry out faster. Conditions are subject to change, but these are the local hikes we recommend in our area: Mile-Around Woods, the trail around Lake Shaftsbury, or the Morgan Wetlands. Also, you can check this link from the Green Mountain Club headquarters with other suggestions for hiking in mud season: www.greenmountainclub.org/hiking/day-hikes-spring/
We’re asking for your help, especially this year as trails are busier than ever and we’re all itching to get outside: can you spread the word about mud season and protecting high-elevation trails in your communities? Together we can protect the hiking trails we all love and have a great hiking season!
To find out more about mud season and how to find trail closures: www.greenmountainclub.org/press-releases/
Tired of watching the same old stuff? Try one of the live or archived virtual events from the GMC.
Here are some upcoming events:
Here are some of the past events. Click the link to see a description of each event, then watch the recorded videos.
* 50 Years of Caretaking on Stratton Mountain
* The Vermont African American Heritage Trail
* Trekking in the Mt. Everest Region
* The Climate Fight, A Report from the Front
* Day Hiking and Other Adventures in Newfoundland, Canada
* Sailing and Hiking in Patagonia, Chile
* Paddling the Mississippi
* Awe, Community & the Outdoors: A Perfect Trifecta
* Stonewalls & Cellar Holes
Please see this link to view more about what took place during the Zoom meeting. Annual Meeting March 2021
It’s coming in the next few days
Bennington Green Mountain Club Annual Meeting
Sunday, March 21st at 6:00 pm
* See friends online
* Find out what the club has been up to
* See short presentations of outdoor activities by our members - you won’t want to miss these amazing photos!
* Invite anyone you think might be interested
2. Minutes from 2019 annual meeting
3. President’s report - Reed Goossen
4. Treasurer’s report - Bill Lyons
5. GMC Director’s report - Martha Stitelman
6. Trails report - Matt Vezina
7. Website and Meetup report - Ann and Billy Martin
8. Newsletter report - Hal March, Lorna Cheriton, Ann Martin
9. New Business
1. Donation to Snobusters - Tim Marr
2. GMC Capital Campaign - Martha Stitelman
3. Other new business
10. Adjournment of business portion
11. Presentation of gorgeous outdoor activity photos - various people
Minutes to be approved from the previous 2019 meeting
Use the Zoom link below. (This same link is on our website: www.benningtongmc.org)
Come Zoom with us!!
Bennington GMC :)
Topic: Bennington Section Annual Meeting
Time: Mar 21, 2021 06:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 834 9000 7183
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Tom Longtin, 1940-2020 by Martha Stitelman
A few years after I moved to Vermont, I was fortunate to meet Tom, who became my friend, next-door neighbor, and outdoor guide (along with the rest of the GMC buddies). Having grown up in Bennington, he knew many of the back roads and trails I was hoping to explore, and helped teach me (usually patiently) the skills I would need to get there by foot, ski or bicycle. His signature technique was to get ahead, just out of earshot, so that I couldn’t argue about the route; but he also could set tracks at an easy angle to follow so that I could catch up. We had many trips that I wouldn’t have thought I could do - until I did. We had a couple where I gave up and came home.
One of our most memorable trips occurred in a particularly icy winter, when a persistent boilerplate crust made skiing miserable. Tom took it as a challenge to go mountain biking on regular unstudded tires, slightly underinflated, until he was skilled at picking routes through the lowest contours in the terrain. One day he, Hubey, Birgir Vigsnes and I set off from the Red Mill entrance on the snowmobile trail to the Burning. Three of us skittered and grumbled on skis along the icy packed trail, while Tom nonchalantly and gracefully pedaled through the trees and around the rocks til we got to the Boiler. As we went across a grassy area the crust broke beneath Tom’s front wheel and he did a dismount over the handlebars; the only time I ever saw him leave his bicycle unexpectedly. A few days later he took me biking across Adams reservoir, not a challenging trip for him, just to show me what it was like.
There was always something interesting to see when out with Tom. We skied by the phone lines, pipes and manholes in the old Bennington watershed, bushwhacked up Bald Mtn to discover that the "Yellow Trail" was really the town boundary line, figured out the best way to snowshoe to Boxcar Rocks, and held our breath when meeting a moose in Medburyville. He might tease us by leading a group twice around “Twice Around Peak”, but didn’t hesitate to pull Margie out when she broke through the ice of a Woodford beaver pond. And he was generous with the various things he’d acquired here and there; the last thing he gave me was a long-handled ice scraper with an added foam handle so I could clean out the crevices in the Harmon Hill rock steps.
Tom’s house too contained many amazing artistic creations. A talented computer graphics artist (https://www.arsmathematica.org/is2003/3dsc/tom_longtin.htm) he created sculptures and puzzles in wood, metal, particleboard and plastic, often involving complex geometrical designs and knots. He was active in Bennington’s art community and has had various sculptures exhibited around town.
I hope sometime we can take a group trip in Tom’s memory (suggestions for destination welcome - where do you remember him best?)
Tom was a team player, so long as he got to say who was on his team. Tom was a US Army soldier in Germany, asked not to reenlist as the Vietnam Conflict ramped up. He lived and worked in Germany, traveled to Australia and Central America, and used drink too much. Tom would share his water and snacks when the trip went longer than advertised. (Which they often did.) Tom told a local couple, “You didn’t have to come on this trip.” when they complained about a ski trip tougher than advertised. (One of them bought new skis after that, tho.) Tom often said he was ’not training wheels’, but would help learning a skill he knew if you were willing to be shown his way. If you wanted to learn your limitation, he was your guide.
He preferred to travel in a loop and to explore ‘all new territory’, yet was always willing to point out historic sites, favorite springs, and interesting trees. He slowed down and ranged closer as he passed 75, but an electric-assist mountain bike extended his range. Too bad he didn’t get to ride it longer. Typically for Tom, the stock motor had straight-cut gears instead of the more expensive helical-cut, so he complained about its noise.
Tom was my hiking buddy, my cycling partner, our cross-country skiing friend, and my inspiration to return to dump-picking and dumpster-diving. He told Martha of a house for sale in his backyard, allowing her to downsize and to become his neighbor for 15 years. We saw him most weekends, so he helped us gather firewood, food, and books and strange objects. He made sculptures from scrap metal, then moved onto puzzles and Bennington Monument models of salvaged material.
We shared books and magazines, where he noted typos and other errors in red pen. Yes, he was critical, yes, he was picky, but he was paying attention.
Thanks for listening,
Hubey Folsom Newfane, VT
We moved to Bennington less than 2 years ago, so didn't know Tom as long as many others, but our lives were enriched by the times we spent together. We marveled at the creations in his house; metal sculptures, intricate puzzles, inlaid hardwood flooring cut from his laser printer and the myriad of machines that he used to construct them. We went on numerous hiking and snowshoeing adventures with Tom - and every trip was truly an adventure. He took us places that were unmarked trails (or bushwhacking) and started to learn how the local areas connected together. Most of the pictures below were from winter 2020.
Tom had created his "Beaver Tail" extension for his pickup truck so that he could easily put on and take off snowshoes, spikes, etc.
It was our good fortune to know Tom.
Ann and Billy Martin
COVID-19 ResponseJune 26 UpdateTrails and Shelters: Shelters and privies on the Long Trail and Appalachian Trail in Vermont are open under modified use guidelines. As of June 26, all trails and facilities on the Long Trail and Appalachian Trail in Vermont are open.
Backcountry Overnight Sites
The rugged and remote nature of backcountry overnight sites are one of the things that make hiking the Long Trail special. As these sites are remote and rustic, visitors are being asked to be self-sufficient and prepared to minimize the potential for spread of COVID-19. Focus will be on maintaining physical distance between unrelated visitors and to manage, reduce, or eliminate common touch points.
Thank you for being a partner in this endeavor and doing your part to minimize the risk to yourself and others
Visitors to backcountry overnight sites are being asked to adhere to the following guidelines:
Listen to a Podcast about the writings in the Melville Nauheim Shelter Log Book
Thank you to our Log Book readers: Ham, Lorna, Ann, Billy
Click the recording below. (You will have a slight pause while the audio file is downloading.)
Note: In the podcast you will hear a short portion of the song "Happy Wanderer" by Frank Weir, a British orchestra leader. The "Happy Wanderer" was quite popular in both Britian and USA in 1954.
Picture Gallery Below:
The first 3 North Bound shelters on the Long Trail/Appalachian Trail in Vermont
Seth Warner, Congdon, Melville Neuheim, and the Neuheim Work Crew getting ready for the hiking season!
Some scans from the Log Book for your review.
Trails and Shelters: Trails on state and federal lands are open, but caution is still needed: staff and volunteers have not been able to perform the normal levels of spring trail maintenance or assessments. We will be operating with very limited field staff this season and will need your help in stewarding the trails.
To protect public health, shelters and privies on the Long Trail and Appalachian Trail in Vermont are closed. Trail managers are developing guidelines for the safe use of backcountry facilities and hope to open some facilities in a reduced capacity by June 26. If you plan to stay in the backcountry please familiarize yourself with and follow primitive camping guidelines for camping on state and federal land and know what land base you are on. This is especially true for the private land that hosts the trail where primitive camping should be avoided altogether.
The Green Mountain National Forest food storage order geared toward minimizing black bear and human encounters and interactions put in place in July 2019 is still in effect in 2020. What it means for backpacking is you need to either hang your food and other smellable items, or use a bear box (available at a limited number of shleters) or personal bear can, and you need to carry out any and all trash that you create, including food scraps. Learn about the order and bear can options here.
Out-of-state visitors: The state restriction for out-of-state hikers to quarantine for 14-days is lifted for residents of certain counties across New England and New York that have a similar active COVID-19 caseload to Vermont (less than 400 active cases of COVID-19 per one million residents). These residents may enter the state for leisure travel without quarantining.
Hadsel-Mares Camp at Wheeler Pond: On June 15th at 10:00 AM, we will open Hadsel-Mares Camp to new bookings between June 26 and October 31. We plan to open the cabin for late fall and winter rentals on October 15th (subject to change). A one-day “maintenance day” in which the cabin is free of guests will exist between all bookings.
New COVID-19 Camps Policy: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, GMC is taking the following measures to comply with State of Vermont requirements and promote renter safety.
Keep up with the happenings around Bennington !
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