North America Photo Essays USA

Hiking through the Breadloaf Wilderness | Vermont, USA

August 24, 2018

by George Lavender

Few things make for a better getaway from city life than a weekend wild camping. A mental reset and refreshing sense of perspective are the main motive for these trips.

This was my first time exploring the national parks of North America, living in New York the obvious choice was driving up to Vermont. Our plan was to hike up bread loaf mountain through the snow, camp somewhere near the top, then ski back down the next day. It was late March and the forecast was looking good for snow in Vermont, but there was much more than expected! But as usual, things never quite go the way you’d expect…

The trail was heavily covered with snow, we set off following some subtle tracks from people that had been about a month before us, which we found out from the trail log at the start. We spotted some questionable looking animal prints along the way, that we decided for our own peace of mind belonged to a very big dog (and definitely not a bear). We ended up setting off later on in the day than anticipated which immediately put us at a disadvantage with the snow softening. A couple of hours in, it was slow progress as we had spent the best part of an hour trying to cross a fast flowing river safely with all of our gear. After this the trail really started to take its toll on us, every step the snow would come up to our knees, we spotted some flat ground and called it a night after about 4 hours of hiking. Slightly disappointing to have not reached the top but in the end, it was a good call as conditions took a turn for the worse.

The sound of the wind at night was deafening through the woods, that coupled with the possibility of being greeted by a bear at 3 am meant it wasn’t the most peaceful night’s sleep ever. Then morning came, the sunlight was bouncing off the snow and we could hear woodpeckers in the distance – truly a peaceful moment. It was a slow start to the day though, I had to defrost my snow boots after the river crossing had left them soaked and then frozen solid overnight. With the help of a trusty Jetboil, I finally managed to warm them up enough to get back on. Then we had to dig up all the food we had buried away from our camp to avoid the interest of bears, the whole process took a couple of hours which massively dented our skiing time. That afternoon was a lot easier after we decided to go back down rather than keep going up. Enjoying the sharp light and crisp snow we made our way down through all of the trees, skimming branches and jumping logs, it made the struggle of yesterday melt away from our memory.

A lesson well learned in planning and carefully studying conditions, but a success all the same. Its true things don’t always work out the way you had planned, but this often leads to the best adventure.

George Lavender is a designer and art director based in New York City, originally from the South Coast of England. He worked in London for 5 years before making the move to the USA. Having spent much of his time in the city the past few years, he felt compelled to get away from my desk and into the wild. A lot of his adventures revolve around snowboarding and naturally he is led up the mountains. Other adventures include hiking amongst the Welsh hills, or climbing boulders around Norway.

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