After all these years of living in the area, I realized that I had never run up to the top of the Middlebury College Snow Bowl, so it seemed like a fun thing to do on a perfect Sunday afternoon. Starting in the Snow Bowl parking lot, I headed up the dirt road just to the left of the ski patrol cabin. I figured, correctly, that this would ascend on the Voter trail, which was after all the easiest way to ski down from the summit, and should make for an easy climb. Note to self: those bunny trails which are so easy in the winter, can be very steep from the runner’s perspective! Readers who ski this trail in the winter can probably form a mental picture of the steeper pitches. While the pitch of the trail never got so severe that it forced me to walk, there were many sustained steep sections which provided plenty of challenges. Nonetheless, I persevered, and made it to the top of the Bailey Falls chairlift.
Bailey Falls Liftline Perspective
The GPS showed me that I had only covered a little over a mile, so I chose to continue along the Long Trail, the state’s beloved long distance hiking path. At this point, I figured that the true summit of Worth Mt., further south along the ridgeline would make a fun goal for the day’s run. The trail was pretty flat at the start, with excellent footing, and a short climb brought me to the first of many false summits in a few minutes. Looking further south, I noticed a significantly higher point, so I aimed for that. The trail started to get – well – more “traily”, and in a few sections I had to slow to a fast walk due to issues with the footing. After a few more minutes, and at about the 2 mile mark, I reached a quiet wooded high point, and figured that this HAD to be the true summit. So I took a short breather and retraced my steps back towards the Snow Bowl trails. Alas, when you look at the Google Earth shot of my run, you will understand the title of this blog. I probably still had another mile or so, and god knows how many more false summits to ascend before I would have actually stood on the summit! Oh well, an excuse for another run, another day.
When I returned to the Bailey Falls lift, instead of retracing my ascent on Voter, I turned left towards the Worth Mountain Chair to descend by a different route. This also provided for a once in a lifetime opportunity – the chance to look down the Worth Mt Chairlift line – with no chairs or even lift towers. Hopefully they will have the new chair up in time for the ski season, but since the leaves haven’t even gotten serious yet about turning, I am not going to sweat it.
Chairless Lift Line and Shadow Self Portrait
After peering over the edge of the lift line towards Lake Pleiad, I backtracked and completed my descent by heading down Procter, the ski trail furthest over on runners’ left. While there was no beaten summer path on this trail, there was a lot of soft grass which had clearly been mowed at some point during the summer, making for a pleasant, leisurely descent. This run clocked in at almost exactly 4 miles, but the nearly 1200 ft of vertical climb made it another good workout with some great views to provide motivation.
Jeff Byers is a professor of chemistry and biochemistry at Middlebury College. He also writes the Middlebury Trailrunner blog. We'll be periodically highlighting posts from his blog, but for more recommendations for trailrunning in the county, head to his Web site.