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  • Writer's pictureApril McNiff

Groton State Forest, Vermont

At the beginning of August I took a week off from the grind of life and traveled to Groton State Forest in Vermont. I decided earlier in the year to participate in an American Hiking Society Volunteer Vacation.

The American Hiking Society offers vacation opportunities that also allow for people to volunteer and give back to ensuring our hiking trails are maintained and thriving. It allows for the outdoors and nature to be preserved, but also for everyone to experience as well.

I thought this would be a great opportunity for myself and my boyfriend to have a nice vacation spent camping and hiking, but also working to help give back as well. Kevin picked the destination, as neither of us had ever been to Vermont before. Groton state forest seemed to be a great destination for August.

So we packed our bags and drove up taking a nice drive over through the Catskill mountains in New York on our way. When we arrived we set up camp in New Discovery State Park. We met with 9 other individuals that would be joining us for the week to work on the Cross Vermont Trail, a multi use trail that will eventually expand across the state of Vermont.

The weather that week couldn't have been any better. We had nice relaxing rain showers at night that the rain drops sounded therapeutic hitting the tops of the tents. The day temperatures were mild, never reaching above the mid 70s. Bugs were few and far between. I think I saw maybe 2 mosquitoes the whole time.

We worked on a connecting trail section that led from the main road down to the Cross Vermont Trail. We regraded, revegetated, removed rocks, created drainage systems, and also relocated several large rocks to prevent automobiles from coming down and dumping out trash and junk.

Over time this section of trail had weathered from several rainstorms, and we discovered that there was some trash both recent and some that had been there for years and years. In the winter, the Cross Vermont Trail is utilized as a snow mobile trail, and also as a cross country skiing trail for those that want to hike in the snow.

We typically worked from about 8am to 4:30pm everyday, which gave us lots of time afterwards before sunset around 8:30pm to explore other areas of the State Forest. We also had 2 days that we were able to relax and be on our own. Kevin and I decided on the 1st free day to travel up just north of Montpelier to an old cider mill, Cold Hollow Cider Mill. They had all kinds of jams, jellies, desserts, and some delicious legendary cider donuts.

On our 2nd free day we decided to drive out to Mt. Washington. Several of our group members told us that Mt. Washington, other than being a well known "bucket list" destination, also had an awesome cog railway that led up from base camp to the peak. Mt. Washington is the highest summit in the Northeastern US. The cog railway primarily operates using eco-friendly biodiesel, and averages around 5mph speeds when traveling up and down the mountain.

It was a beautiful scenic ride up to the summit, which is 6288' above sea level. The temperature dropped quite a bit that day ranging from about 72 degrees Fahrenheit at base camp to 38 degrees Fahrenheit at the summit. Kevin and I definitely want to go back and spend some time hiking up and camping along the way in the White Mountain's Presidential traverse 23 mile trail system.

Overall my trip to Vermont changed my expectations of the northern states. I discovered the White Mountains for myself and fell in love with them. I also realized that the residents of both Vermont and New Hampshire care very deeply about the outdoors and preserving its beauty. They, just like me, want to ensure that our wildlife and forests lasts for generations to come.

I plan to visit Vermont and New Hampshire again in my upcoming travel adventures. I also was very happy with the American Hiking Society's volunteer vacation opportunities and plan to participate in others in the future as well.

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