“I gotta walk up that?” Leon complained as he stared up at the mountain we were about to ascend.
We were newlyweds and had just arrived in Burlington, Vermont in the summertime. Riding the jet streams of a wild and sensational wedding, we arrived feeling a combination of elation and exhaustion. We had planned a honeymoon in the fall, but it was still three months away. I couldn’t wait that long to get away, especially after months of stressful wedding plans. We agreed that a short getaway to Vermont was just what we needed to decompress. Four days filled with rest, relaxation, and beautiful scenery.
Relaxation? Me?? That’s a good one!
I’ll admit it: I need a day of rest to catch up on all of my restless nights every week. I even need the occasional day at home where I veg-out on the couch and watch movies all day. But after a day or two, I get bored and have to occupy myself with an activity.
This is the state I found myself in after resting up for a few days in Vermont. I get annoying when I’m restless. Ask anyone who knows me. Endlessly chattering and trying to come up with something to distract me, this was how I convinced Leon (a.k.a. Mr. Little Blue Earth) to hike up Camel’s Hump in Vermont’s Green Mountains.
Biting Off More Than We Could Chew
The day started out innocently enough. I had researched Camel’s Hump and the trails leading up to the summit. Camel’s Hump stands over 4,000 feet tall and is the third highest peak in the Green Mountains. It offers panoramic views of the Green Mountains, the Adirondacks, and Mount Washington.
It was a gorgeous day. Clear, blue skies illuminated the landscape and provided us with unrivaled views. We kept stopping to admire the surrounding scenery, climbing down hills to get closer to the brooks and waterfalls coursing through the woods. Have you ever breathed in really clean air? Nature does wonders for the brain, and I started to feel the stress of the last few months lift off my shoulders as I basked in the warm, Vermont summer air.
We finally parked the car and made our way to the trailhead. After wandering around for 10 minutes (yes, we managed to get lost from the parking lot to the path), we found ourselves at the bottom of Camel’s Hump. I really don’t know how we get through each day without walking around in circles.
After reading about the difficulty level of each trail, I decided that we should try Burrows Trail, a “moderate” level five mile round-trip hike. This is a popular hike, one which thousands of people climb every year. How hard could it be? (Disclaimer: I’ve since found websites rating it as “Difficult”. Good job, Google.)
The next time I think that climbing a mountain is easy, please slap me. I live in Florida, where parts of the state are below sea level. What the hell do I know about hiking, let alone mountaineering? (The other option is to let me continue believing I’m an expert and see what happens.)
Leon and I realized after about ten minutes on the trail that we had bitten off way more than we could chew. There had been torrential downpours during the previous two days, and our shoes weren’t primed for hiking in mud. Flecks of dirt clung to our clothes and skin, and beads of sweat rolled down our skin despite the cool weather. We spent the next two hours climbing over unstable boulders and trekking through mud, feeling the burn in our gluteals as we set one foot in front of the other. Pausing briefly to let others pass us–yes, we were the slowest people on the trail–we sipped water to moisten our lips and keep dehydration at bay. I was so worried that we hadn’t taken enough snacks with us that I basically stopped Leon from eating until we reached the summit.
Remember when I said that our intentions were to relax on our weekend getaway? I clearly hadn’t thought things through well. A 2.5 mile hike up a mountain with a grumpy and hungry husband is the opposite of relaxation.
Standing on Top of Camel’s Hump and Gazing at the World
Finally, we reached the top of Camel’s Hump. Leon collapsed in a daze, just grateful that we hadn’t fallen off the side of the mountain. We dropped our bags and breathed in the cold air. There’s no better feeling in the world than reaching your goal after struggling to get to the top.
Camel’s Hump is aptly named for the boulder that sits at the apex, creating an illusion of a “camel’s hump” in the distance. Standing at the highest point presents you with a 360 degree panoramic view of New England and parts of Canada. I could feel the lines of air as the cold wind whipped across my face, drying off the drops of perspiration and revitalizing me with energy. Even Leon felt more alert, especially after eating the scrumptious scones that our gracious host had presented us before we left our AirBnB. We spent an hour at the summit of Camel’s Hump, awestruck with the azure skies blending with the green hue of the rolling hills. Once we felt replenished enough to climb down, we began our descent.
What Goes Up Must Come Down
Hey, did you know that climbing down a mountain is really fucking scary?
I’m not afraid of heights, but even I began to feel the effects of vertigo as I peered over the ledge of the very narrow path winding around the apex of the mountain. I should mention that ascending a mountain is very different from descending one. During the climb, muscles are cramping and fatigue takes over the body. Constantly craning your neck to peer upwards, it’s easy to forget about the steep incline and how it might feel coming down the mountain.
After sobering up at the top, the earth seemed to gravitate towards me as I peered over the edge. I hugged the mountain’s walls until the path leveled out enough for me to walk like a semi-human being. Gingerly making our way down the path, we took our time and paid close attention to our feet placement.
Remember how I mentioned the muddy rocks and wet dirt at the start of our hike? Going down along that path had some interesting results. Leon and I spent an hour and a half slipping and sliding, brushing off our asses along the way. Our lack of experience was accentuated when we saw another hiker, ahem, America’s next Ninja Warrior skipping down the path at record speed.
Physical Exhaustion + Beautiful Scenery = Great Experience
An hour and a half later, we finally made it back to our car. Physically depleted and famished, we threw our mud-streaked gear into the trunk and felt the fatigue set into our bones. However, we felt strangely satisfied with ourselves.
No journey is easy, especially when you’re ill-prepared, but the satisfaction felt after reaching your goal is worth all the trouble. Despite all of our griping, we really fell in love with hiking and make a point to do it at every opportunity. Even Leon has admitted to feeling rejuvenated and satiated after these adventures. We stood on top of a mountain. There’s no better feeling in the world.
For us, the battle to summit Camel’s Hump was one for the books. Leon still tells people how I starved him on the way to the top. (I really didn’t, he’s just exaggerating. Sort of.) Even though thousands of people tackle Burrows Trail every year, we felt like we had conquered something insurmountable.
Hungry and exhausted at the end of a great afternoon, we drove back to Burlington. On the way, we passed a sign for the Ben & Jerry’s Factory. A couple scoops of ice cream later, all was right with the world.
None of the links in the article are affiliates. The exception is AirBnB which gives you a $35 discount off your first visit. (I get credit, too, so it’s a win-win.) The rest of the links are resources that I believe people may benefit from should they decide to take a similar trip.