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Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Stratton Mountain(Vermont)

Got an early start this morning, heading north towards Vermont on what was forecast to be yet another dry, above average December day.  As I drove north past a quiet Petersburg farm, I pulled off the side of Route 22 to capture this shot of a thick layer of fog burning off in the Taconics.
 Continuing north onto Route 7 in Vermont, I got off Exit 3 in Arlington and headed northeast through the small hamlet of Kansas, eventually arriving at Kelley Stand Road.  Kelley Stand Road is a seasonal road and not maintained between November 1st and June 1st, meaning it may be inaccessible for many of the winter months.  Due to the delay of any winter weather, howver, the road was passable even for my low clearance sedan.  The road is very picturesque and provides access to many recreational opportunities.  Here is a nice shot of Beebe Pond from a shoulder of the road.
 Continuing east, the trail head is found just after a bridge crossing of the East Branch of the Deerfield River in a large parking lot on the north side of the road.  Although a sign indicates 3.4 miles to the summit here, it is actually 3.8 miles(as indicated on trail signage at the caretaker's cabin).
Crossing a small beaver pond outlet on puncheon.
 The trail soon crosses a snowmobile trail corridor.
  Snow was found along nearly the entire trail in any areas without southern exposure.
 The climb is steady but never steep.
A small clearing in the trees provides a glimpse to the south towards Grout Pond and Somerset Reservoir. 
The trail continues a gradual ascent towards the summit, but is never too demanding.  It is somewhat surprising that you ascend over 1700 feet and soon arrive at a white caretaker cabin.
 Just past the cabin is the 55 foot fire tower at the 3936 foot summit.  From the ground level there are no views to be had.
 The fire tower cab unfortunately provided no views.
 Looking down through cab door at the wintry steps.
 The view from the fire tower on a clear day is supposed to be incredible.  Today, however, wind blown snow was making any long distant views nearly impossible.
 Heavy wintry frost on the fire tower.
 A view to the south with the heavy wind driven snow blowing around.
 A brief clearing to the west allowed for nice views and blue skies.
 Looks like a Christmas tree to me.
 Clearing skies just before the next snow burst obscured the view again.
Waited a little while in hopes of clearing skies but to no avail.  Finally decided to turn back after about 15 minutes at the summit. 
 Retraced my steps back down off the mountain, making good time.  A large beaver pond is found just off the trail about .6 of a mile before the parking area.
 Arrived back at the car after 7.6 miles RT.  Only saw one other hiker the entire day.
Driving back along Kelley Stand Road, I stopped by the beautiful Roaring Branch, which closely hugs the road much of the way.
Another warm December day.  Great day out in the woods.

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