Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Serendipity 3. Snow shoe hike up Camel's Hump

Recently I added a new (and quintessentially Vermont) New Thing to the list -- climbing up Camel's Hump in all four seasons. In order to start things off, I signed up for a snow shoe hike sponsored by the College's Wilderness Program, and was excited to learn that Ryan, over whom my department (political science) and the history department have a fierce competition for bragging rights (he's a double major), because we both think he's so great. But then this hike got scooped when my friend and former student, Conor, offered to let me tag along on one of his regular Camel's Hump hike on Tuesday. As you might have seen in a previous post (New Thing #10.1), we hiked it in hiking boots and crampons, and it was absolutely fabulous.

So, having technically done the winter part of my hike up Camel's Hump, and considering that I did skate skiing the day before and my legs were not happy with me already, I had a decision to make; should I hike Camel's Hump for the second time in the same week? Of course my curiosity (crampons or snow shoes? was it really that cold at the top, or did I just imagine it?)got the better of me and I decided to put it on my Serendipity List of cool things that happened because of the original list. That was clearly the right decision, though I might not have said that about two-tenths of a mile from the summit when I was thinking about all my non-insane friends and colleagues sitting in the comfort of their homes not even knowing how lucky they all were to be able to feel every single part of their fingers, toes and faces.

The desire to retain total feeling in all extremities might also have been the reasoning of two of the students who signed up for the hike and didn't show, leaving only four of us -- Bridget, Alex, Ryan and me -- to hop in the van and drive up to the trail head. "Driving up to the trail head" turned out to be easier said than done, though. The complications started with a missed turn, which led to an ill-fated attempt to turn around in entirely too much slippery snow, leaving the van spinning its wheels without the slightest forward movement. Luckily, we were in Vermont, which meant that it was only a matter of moments till a man drove up in a red pickup truck (wearing an Official Vermonter Red Flannel Shirt with the requisite large and friendly dog sitting in the front seat with him), produced a chain, and proceeded to pull the van out, with an admirable economy of time and language (about 90 seconds and less than ten words) before driving off again. Three-quarters of a mile from the Camel's Hump trail head parking lot, the van failed us again, and slipped and slid but stolidly refused to move any further up the road. This left us no choice but to park the van, strap on our snow shoes and hike the additional distance to the nominal beginning of the hike. Luckily Ryan, Bridget and Alex are all great people with excellent senses of humor (though maybe a teeny bit crazy), so the extra challenges getting to the trail head just made us all laugh.

The snow on the trail was deeper and heavier than it had been five days ago when I hiked with Conor. But doing the same winter hike twice in one week yielded some interesting observations. The first is that, in my highly unprofessional opinion, if you have a choice between hiking with snow shoes or just regular hiking boots with crampons, choose the latter. I've always known (and all these winter sports have reinforced this reality) that I am a heat-seeking creature; what I hadn't thought about much before is that I'm also a hill-averse one. Almost all of the sports-based New Things I've tried in the last six weeks have forced me to face both these facts. Now I spend a fair of amount of effort figuring out how to be warm outside and how to deal with hills, as I can no longer avoid either. My strategy for the first problem has been to break down and enter into the mysterious world of the Outdoor Gear Exchange, where I have purchased wool socks and clothing made out of strange man-made materials for the first time in ten winters in Vermont. But I'm still working out the second. If anyone has a map of all the flat roads, trails and open spaces in Vermont, please contact me and I'll pay you lots of money for it. In the meantime, I have become a big fan of crampons, which were obviously nightmare-inducing torture devices in a previous life, but definitely make going uphill much less labor intensive than snowshoes or skis. Summary for fellow winter sport novices: crampons are where it's at.

My other painfully-obvious-but-previously-oblivious observation concerns dogs and the Vermonters who love them. In my previous post from hiking Camel's Hump with Conor I suggested that the hike is something of a requirement for Vermonters. But I forgot to notice (and therefore mention), that even more importantly, it is a mandatory part of being a dog here. And nothing changes just because it's winter. At one point Bridget estimated that we had seen 13 dogs on the trail -- some were hiking solo, others in pairs and we saw at least one trio. A few had on silly-looking coats, but most had no special gear to shield them from the cold, and they didn't seem to mind a bit. In fact, as a whole I'd say they were about the most ecstatic group I've seen in a while. My personal favorite was a yellow lab who did an otter imitation, rolling over and over in the snow and then sliding gleefully downhill on her back, then running back up to do it again. If you want to see the embodiment of pure, unadulterated joy, go for a winter hike on Camel's Hump and check out the dogs you meet along the way.

Our foursome of hikers were feeling somewhat less joy than the dogs once the second, steeper part of the hike commenced, and were downright unhappy in the final quarter mile before we hit the summit, while the wind whipped around furiously and we accumulated a coat of ice on any hair not covered by our hats. At the top we didn't even do a group photo, but hurriedly snapped shots of first Bridget and Alex and then Ryan and I to prove our temporary insanity, and then started the trek back down. I did have the opportunity to show Ryan the fine art of sliding on your backside that Conor had shared with me. Now he can say that, if I taught him nothing else in his major, I shared the secret of the fastest and easiest way to go down a hill in the winter -- you know, something useful, as opposed to our endless discussions of the choke hold of interest groups on the electoral process that is the usual fare. But once again, I have to say that crampons have it all over snowshoes, because when going downhill you just take them off and throw them in your pack, rather than having to keep them on and getting snagged by them as you slide downhill.

The final moral of the story though, is that climbing Camel's Hump really is a truly Vermont experience -- everything from flannel-clad and dog-laden encounters to gorgeous snow-covered forests to the feeling of accomplishment that comes from standing on the top of a peak. I think these things go a long way in explaining why many of us came here, or, in my case, came and stayed a lot longer than we ever thought we would. Two winter hikes in one week felt like a lot when I was wavering about whether to do them, but now I think it's getting a bit addictive. If anyone has read these posts and felt deprived let me know -- I think I'd be up to do the climb again!

Monday, February 22, 2010

11. Try skate skiing

A fun thing I'm finding about trying new things is that the more I try, the more new ideas and opportunities pop up. This last weekend, I wound up doing a Wilderness Program double-header: trying skate skiing on Saturday and doing a snow shoe hike (which will be its own Serendipity post) on Sunday. I never even heard of skate skiing until a few weeks ago when my friend Dan S. gave me a lesson at Bolton Valley in classic cross-country skiing (New Thing #7). During that lesson he explained the difference between the two styles to me, and at the end of lesson we ran into my colleague Mark (of Mozzarella-making [New Thing #6] fame) and his son Jax doing (what else?) skate skiing. So of course, when the Wilderness Program set up an afternoon lesson with Dan as an alumnus instructor, I just had to sign up.

Skate skiing, I have discovered, is both more fun and harder (at least for me) than classic cross country skiing. In order to skate ski you basically push your ski out to the side and transfer all your weight to the side that's pushing out in a motion reminiscent of ice skating. On the level and especially on downhills, it's great. The problem is uphill, where once I'm tired (about 5 seconds into the hill if I'm lucky) all thought of pushing to the side goes right out the window, and I wind up looking like a cartoon where my legs just keep moving but the ground beneath me doesn't. So, I can either keep working on the uphills or find some trails that don't contain any at all. Any question which I'll try first?

The hills notwithstanding, our afternoon lesson was highly entertaining. In fact, captured in three different pictures was a funny little interlude. First, our teacher Dan, caught a nice moment of Meghan, Megan and Rachel all snow plowing down a hill. Unfortunately, to take the picture, he was skiing backwards and as you can see, fell into a fairly steep ditch. And as we gathered around (and I thoughtfully captured his entrapment in the snow on camera) he took a picture of us all staring at him. Happily, he got himself out of his snow trap remarkably quickly and yielded to the group's entreaties to please find a run with fewer uphill sections, and we had a lovely time. The last shot is all of us -- Ashley, Meghan C., me, Megan D., Dan, Brian and Rachel -- posing for a self-congratulatory group picture before heading home.

52 Ways to Say I Love You Hungarian, with thanks to Valerie, and her dad, Lou.

Hello - Hallo (hollow)
Goodbye - visczont latashig (vee sont la tash eeg)
I love you - szeretlek (ser ret lek)
May I have 2 beers, please? - kerek ket sort (kay rek kate shurrt)

Coming Attractions

February 26-28. Road trip to Bar Harbor to see the the earliest sunrise on the East Coast from Cadillac Mountain with list co-originators Siham and Leah.

March 13-21. Spring break winter sports extravaganza -- a chance to finish off the winter sports list -- downhill skiing, snow boarding, jump and spin on figure skates, and a night time ski or snow shoe hike, and possibly do some cooking lessons. Julia might be coming to town for some of it, and Dave might be giving me a snow board lesson. Who else wants to take the opportunity to get outside in Vermont before mud season sets in for good?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

10.1 Hike Camel's Hump in all four seasons (Winter)

It frustrates me that at my college we hold classes every year on Martin Luther King Day. But I love it that we get off not only Monday but also Tuesday of President's Day weekend. So, while everyone else had to march off to work, I spent Tuesday afternoon in the coolest way possible -- on a winter hike up Camel's Hump. The plan was (and still is) to do my winter hike as a snow shoe this coming Sunday with our college Wilderness Program. But when my friend Conor, a former student and Wilderness Program leader who now teaches at a local high school, offered to let me tag along on his (non snow shoe)hike today, it was a no-brainer.

Conor, I recently discovered, does this hike multiple times weekly, usually with weights in his backpack, as a training exercise. I passed on the weights, but took him up on his offer of crampons, which we strapped on to our hiking boots about half way up the trail.

For non-Vermonters, Camel's Hump is our state's second highest peak and a hike up it is pretty much obligatory for everyone before they can leave the state (there might even be a law about it, passed around the same time as the one requiring everyone in the state to list cheddar as their favorite cheese). For Vermonters, today I learned something very important that I'm dying to share. The news is this: assuming you have crampons, hiking Camel's Hump in the winter is actually easier than hiking it in the summer. It might be that everyone else already knew and were taking bets on when I'd find out. But in case there are any others to whom this is news, let me explain. First, the snow covers slippery rocks, so if you have good hiking boots, you actually have better traction. Second, once it gets really steep and you put on your crampons, you have better traction still, and there's no danger of sliding backwards when you take a steep step. Third, the snow laden trees are so amazingly cool-looking it's easy to pretend you're in Narnia or some other children's book, and thereby forget that you're huffing and puffing. Finally -- and this is the real clincher -- going back down is a blast. That's because, if you're wearing snow pants and enough layers to make you look like the Stay Puff Marshmallow Man (a description you can see from the photos clearly applied to me) you can take off your crampons, sit on your butt, and go on the longest slide you've ever been on in your life. Who knew? Not me, at least until today.

Of course, as with all great things there is a catch, and in this case it's that the summit is windy and cold -- very, very windy and cold. There's a clearing about a third of a mile from the summit that looks deceptively calm and is ringed by beautiful snow-bowed trees on all sides. And then as you keep climbing the wind starts whipping around you and you notice that the trees are all stunted, and that finally the wind is making your face numb (even if you're wearing your super-warm hat from Nepal -- thanks Jane and Kurt!). And then it feels like you're not in Vermont at all, but rather Alaska or anywhere else you've ever imagined as really high and really cold. So you put on every single extra stitch of clothing you have in your backpack, try to peer through the clouds whipping around you, take a photo or two, and hightail it back down to the clearing. From there, the world rights itself quickly. You can pull off and pack up your crampons, sit on your butt and go for the longest sled ride (minus the sled) of your life through the steep part of the trail. If you've never done it, you must. It helps,of course, to have a terrific friend and guide like Conor show you the ropes. It's really too much fun to miss.

52 to Ways to Say I love You German, once again with thanks to my multilingual friend Cherifa (who can also hold a plank position longer than any of the rest of us in the Crossfire class -- some people are so talented!)

Ich liebe dich. I love you

Kann ich zwei biere bitte? Can I have two beers please?

Hallo Hello (Gotta be fair to all the words and give them their translation due)

Auf wiedersehen Good by

Coming Attractions

Still planning to go skate skiing on Saturday, February 20 and snow shoe hiking on Camel's Hump Sunday, February 21. And the following weekend Leah, Siham and I will still go up to Bar Harbor for the east coast earliest sunrise.

Spring Break 2010 I had one other plan that I wanted to start posting now. My summer travel plans are coming together and they are really exciting. Dominican Republic with Saint Michael's College service trip May 18-28. Jordan, Lebanon and possibly Syria and Spain for 2-3 weeks in June. And my colleague Jerry and I recently learned that we'll be presenting at a conference at Cambridge University the first week in August. That obviously means that there will be some travel before and/or after the conference to several European countries on my New Places list. Given all those plans, I think I'm going to save my time and pennies, and devote my spring break to winter sports here in Vermont. I still want to do downhill skiing, snowboarding, night versions of several winter sports, and learning to jump and spin on ice skates. So, if any of my friends and/or former students has ever been dying to get (or return) to Vermont and try skiing/snowboarding/night sports/skating (and also check out maple sugaring -- it'll be the season), this is your chance. If you want to come to Burlington and stay at my place during the period between March 14-20, now is a good time to let me know!

Serendipity 2. Spend a day seeing Broadway shows with a high school friend

One of the many great results of starting this blog has been the fabulous support and interest I've gotten for it from totally unexpected people and places. For instance, this is a serendipity post; the idea came from my sister Katrinka (who suggested I do a second list of cool new things that happen as unanticipated consequences of the original list), but the name of the idea came from Kathy. Pat and Kathy are my brother in law Brian's dad and step mom, and they have gone out of their way to help me out with list suggestions (Kathy made an awesome one today of seeing the polar bears in Manitoba, which I may just have to add to the 52), language translations, and words like serendipity, all of which has been much appreciated.

Even more unexpected has been the fact that some of my old friends from high school have been following the blog, and better yet, considering doing some of the things on the list. Over the past weekend my friend Angela, who I knew in high school as Angie, and who now has three boys and recently moved back to southern Idaho where we went to school together, led the way. Like me, she'd had a pretty awful 2009, and we'd discovered we shared a mutual love of New York City. When I made my last-minute decision to spend President's Day weekend there, she found an astoundingly good deal of a flight and flew out to join me.

Plane troubles grounded Angela in Chicago so that she missed out on the ice skating that was my original reason for going. But once we met up in town we came up with a brilliant plan (if I do say so) for Sunday afternoon and evening -- a Broadway double header (one matinee and one evening performance) punctuated by a late lunch, and of course cannolis, in (where else?) Little Italy.

In case you haven't been in New York City for a while, I'll let you in on a widely-known but still lamentable fact; it's a wonderful but ridiculously expensive place. It's as if there's a vacuum tube attached to your pockets that sucks out the cash when you're not looking. But there are ways of (partially) combating the giant sucking sound, one of which is the half price ticket place in Times Square. Like all money-saving systems, it has its drawbacks, particularly when you are standing in a very cold wind on a very long line, and you can only buy one set of tickets at a time. But good things come to those who wait, or at least they did on Sunday. for the matinee we attended. We went to see Next to Normal, which was nominated for 11 Tony Awards and won 3 last year, we thought deservedly so. It was pretty heavy for a musical -- the story is about a family dealing with the mom's serious mental illness -- but really great. We went for something a little lighter -- The Perfect Crime -- for the evening show. Besides being performed in the Snapple Theater, which seemed a little funny, especially because it was directly above the Jerry Orbach Theater, The Perfect Crime's big claim to fame is that its leading lady (Catherine Russell) is in the Guinness Book of World Records for longest continuous run in a Broadway show (every single performance but four since it opened in 1987!).

So there you have it -- we hit the best (at least in one case and, well, the best attendance in the other) on Broadway with pesto, cannolis and a trip to a chocolate lover's dream -- the Hershey Store -- in between. Not a bad day in the Big Apple. I might have to do it again sometime, and if I do, I'll be twisting Angela's arm to join me.

Monday, February 15, 2010

9. Go ice skating at Rockefeller Center

Sometimes the best plan is the one you don't make until it's almost too late. That's the lesson I'm taking from this week's New Thing. It might be silly and a ridiculously touristy cliche, but I've always wanted to go ice skating at Rockefeller Center. So I put it on the list, but it took me forever to decide whether the President's Day long weekend was the right time for it. By the time I did decide, it was too expensive to get a flight, and I wasn't even sure if anyone would do it with me. But it all worked out great--in fact, a million times better than I expected.

First my former student and friend Dan, who has already been an incredibly good sport about participating or agreeing to teach me a number of things on my list, decided to go to New York City as well, and suggested we take the train. Then Alex and Michelle from my global studies senior seminar (where they are incredibly popular because of their endearing habit of making cupcakes for the rest of us to help us get through the 3-hour class period) offered to let us catch a ride to the city with them and their fellow journalism major Emily. (They were going to spend the weekend doing interviews and research for their journalism senior seminar project on the impact of technology on meeting people to date -- can't wait to see the film they're producing). Then my good friend and fellow board member of the AIDS activist group Health GAP, T. Richard, offered to host me at his place in Brooklyn. When Aaron, another friend and fellow board member offered to go skate with me, I was all set. And then, on top of everything else, a friend from high school (that would be Twin Falls High in Southern Idaho), Angela, wrote to say she'd found an amazing air fare and should she fly in from Twin Falls for the weekend as well? That last development was so serendipitous that I'm putting it on the Serendipity list in its own post. But the point here is that sometimes things just fall into place, and when it happens, just be glad.

So that was my more philosophical life lesson. My practical one is this: if you're going to go ice skating at a famous spot in New York City, do it at 8:30 am. Although I'm willing to go out on a limb here and say that I am very sure I'm right about this, my inner scientist compels me to admit my induction is based on only two cases. First, was Dan's and my futile attempt to start off our visit to New York by going ice skating in Central Park on Saturday afternoon. When we got to the rink there, though, we discovered that it was expensive (so is Rockefeller Center, but I already knew that going in) and the line was astoundingly long. Perhaps most disconcerting was the fact that the skaters jammed onto the smallish rink reminded me uncomfortably of human lemmings, with people packed so close together that they seemed grimly preoccupied with not tripping over each other. So, we spent a couple of hours exploring the Park and people watching (kids were out on their sleds in force because of the unusual amount of snow) instead.

The next day, by contrast, Aaron, his fiance Carolyn and I met up at Rockefeller Center for the 8:30 opening, where to our astonishment, we made up about a third of the "crowd". As the morning went on the rink did fill, but for about the first hour, we had the place practically to ourselves, which was a pretty cool thing.

As I mentioned above, I'm going to do a separate post for the Serendipity list about my meet-up with Angela, but I wanted to post some pictures of both ice skating and all the people that thoughtfully participated in some way to make it such a fun and easy thing for the list. There's a picture of Michelle, Alex and Emily, who made space in their car to invite Dan and I along for the ride down. There's one of Dan and I hanging out in Central Park after opting not to skate there. Relaxing on the couch is my gracious friend T. Richard, who has let me stay at his place for years when I visit New York. And finally, there are some shots of Aaron, Carolyn and I waiting for the ice to be resurfaced and then, of course, skating on it.

52 Ways to Say I Love You Italian, with thanks to my friend Cherifa (who knows a whole multitude of languages) from my 6:30 am Crossfire class at the Y.

Ti amo or ti voglio bene (either one is good for I love you, the first is more passionate)

Posso avere due birre per favore? May I have two beers, please?

Ciao Hello

Arrivederci Good by

Coming Attractions

Saturday, February 20 and Sunday, February 21 will still be a winter activity double-time. Saturday, Dan S. will be teaching us skate skiing and on Sunday I'll be donning snow shoes with the Wilderness Program to do the winter part of my Camel's Hump-in-four-seasons plan. Last time I looked, there were still spots in both these programs, so I hope some of my student and colleague friends at Saint Mike's will go sign up (and I'm psyched that Ryan signed up for the snow shoe hike already).

Friday, February 26-Sunday, February 28. Bar Harbor sunrise from Mount Cadillac. The last weekend of February will be a road trip to Maine with the co-originators of 52 New Things, Siham and Leah, to see the earliest sunrise on the East Coast. It's on all three of our lists (basically because Leah and I stole it off Siham's list, but she's not holding it against us).

Friday, February 5, 2010

8. Take a Penguin Plunge

So, this New Thing was suggested by Erin, the leader of the Saint Michael's College service learning trip that I will be taking to the Dominican Republic in May, and immediately seconded by the students in the group (though I should note that none of them jumped forward to actually join Erin and I in this endeavor). But it fit the same criteria as most of the other things on the list (meaning I've never done it, a friend is willing to do it with me, and most importantly, I find it terrifying to even contemplate), so of course I had to add it. And then, having put it on the list, I had to do it.

I was lucky, though, because I wound up having a built-in backup for the day of the event. As many of you know, I went to Tanzania for the first time in 2002, and have gone back at least annually ever since. Since 2005, I've worked with a wonderful NGO called the Ilula Orphan Program (IOP), and they have hosted SMC students, alumni and colleagues who have come with me to Tanzania on five different occasions for service learning and community-based research projects. In 2007, our largest group, 13 of us in all, completed a number of projects, including building a web site for the IOP ( All of this is a long way of saying that on the weekend of the Penguin Plunge, a group of the students who have come with me to Tanzania over the past 3 years -- Colleen (2008), Shaleen (2007 and 2008), Kate (2007 and 2008), Allison (2008), Siham (2008) and Kelly (2007) (shown here after the plunge wearing the pashmina scarves that I gave them as souvenirs from my New Year's trip to Nepal)-- converged at my tiny condo for a weekend reunion and to make sure that I really made the jump.

The most important thing I learned about the Plunge is that it's definitely a case where anticipation is worse than reality. That morning I went outside to feed a meter, and almost backed out of the whole thing when I realized how cold I felt with a coat and several layers on. But I had already made a promise, and a bunch of friends had donated to the cause, the IOP alum had come down to support me, and my colleagues Erin and Kristin, as well as a whole crew of SMC students had agreed to do it as well, so there was no backing out.

At the Plunge there were around 1000 people who had also registered to do it, and we were organized into teams. Saint Mike's was team 28, and most of the Plungers had come prepared with purple and gold clothes (and Knight accessories), and purple and yellow face paint. Kristin and I failed on the purple and gold, and were wearing black swimsuits instead, but got in on the face paint, as you can see from one of the pictures. When 11 am hit, they started assembling teams in first the heated dressing tent and then the "staging tent". From the staging tent, each group would emerge and run through a roped-off gauntlet down to the water, make the plunge and then run back to the dressing tent.

In case you're contemplating making a plunge, turns out that the worst part is the walk in the cold air between the two heated tents. That's the point when it feels like it's far too cold to contemplate going any further (the collective recollection of the group is that it was probably in the low teens outside at the time of the plunge, and even colder factoring in wind chill). But once it's time for the group to actually go, particularly if you're in a big, enthusiastic, semi-choreographed group like Saint Mike's, it's kind of fun, and goes really fast. Kate took the photo here from a bit of a distance, but you can sort of see me going in (I'm the one wearing the black swim suit top and shorts, as well as my oh-so-glamorous Penguin Plunge hat on the side right behind the rails).

In the last picture I'm posing after the Plunge with some of my SMC friends -- Kristin, my colleague from the French Department; Erin, from the MOVE office and leader of the DR service trip, who suggested we do this together; Josh, who's taught me about half of the new sports I've learned from the Wilderness Program lately; and Ethan, from Res Life, who's also engaged to Erin. After it was all over, we were comparing notes, and to our surprise, all of us thought it was s distinct possibility that we might do it again next year! Definitely a good New Thing. Time to go get dinner with my IOP alum guests, so I'll just close by saying that everyone should consider jumping through the ice into a large body of water at least once. It's not as tough as I expected, and definitely fun to have done. Something to think about for the future!

52 Ways to Say I Love You

In Portuguese, with thanks to Jesse and Emily, who had just finished their Peace Corps service as teachers in Mozambique when I met them in Nepal.

Hello Bom dia
Good by Tchau
I love you. Gosto de ti.
May I have two beers, please. Estou a pedir duas cervezas, por favor.

Coming Attractions

Saturday, February 13- Monday, February 15 Well, I finally made a decision, and I'm headed to New York City with Michelle, Alex and Dan, and staying with my friend T. Richard, in order to be able to cross off something I've always wanted to do -- go ice skating at Rockefeller Center.

Saturday, February 20. Try skate skiing. After all the fun I had with my cross country ski lesson with Dan S. two weeks ago, of course, I wanted to try a skate skiing lesson as well. He'll be teaching a bunch of us through the SMC Wilderness Program at Bolton Valley that day.

Sunday, February 21. Hike Camel's Hump in all four seasons (Part I). This was a new idea that I had the other day and definitely wanted to add to the list. I loved my snow shoe hike up Nebraska Notch, and so I signed up for a longer, tougher one with the Wilderness Program up the quintessential Vermont mountain (only 4083 feet, which is laughable to a reader living in say, Nepal, or even Idaho, but here it counts as our state's second highest peak). And then I had a thought. What could be a more Vermont experience than Camel's Hump in all four seasons? So, that's the new plan, and a new entry for the list: to hike up Camel's Hump in winter (on snow shoes), spring (it'll have to be late, when the mud is gone), summer (which is what I've always done before), and fall (when it is in all it's foliage-filled glory). Not only is it a very Vermont thing to do, but it's an opportunity to get lots of my friends who have never hiked Camel's Hump or some who have never visited Vermont, to come do it with me. So, if you want to do any of these four hikes, let me know.