Camel's Hump Vermont- June 2008
By Erika M. Seitz

  Last summer we hiked Camels Hump. We got to Camels Hump State Park around 6pm on Friday. It was still light out, but we had about a mile hike to the tent area. From the map provided on the website, it didn’t look as if it would be a steep incline to the campsite, rather a flat walk-into-the-woods access. With that information, we decided to bring a cooler with ice. When we got to the parking lot, we saw on the map that the hike in to the tent area was in fact an incline. We did not come prepared for eating all dry foods and macaroni from the camp stove, so we needed to think.

  We finally decided to make 2 trips so that we could get rid of our packs and come back and carry the cooler separately up the mountain. About 3/4ths up the trail we were extremely tired from carrying all of our equipment. Full packs of tents, sleeping bags, air mattresses, clothing, dry foods, headlamps, misc hiking gear and dishes. Knowing we had another hike down and then up again with a cooler full of food we decided to stop and bushwhack into the woods for a tent spot. (Its not encouraged at the state park, but still allowed. They just ask that there be no fire and you try not to destroy a lot of wildlife. We had dinner and got an early night in for hiking the next morning. We still had another 2 and ½ miles of steep incline to go.

  The next morning we cooked hash browns and bacon from the stove and got ready to go. We each had a bag of beef jerky and a bag of gorp for the trip. We packed Egg Salad sandwiches and canteens of water. We started with our day packs and hiked to the stream/waterfall area where the tent platforms were, and where potentially we were assigned to stay for the night. We filled our waters and continued on our journey.

  Being the first hiking trip of the year we were a little rusty, and took frequent breaks. It was late spring/early summer so a lot of the area was still blooming and growing. We came across a water fall right on the edge of the tree line that was challenging to get up to, and had very slippery rocks. A few times I prayed and held on for my life. Falling could have been disastrous and potentially trip ruining. Nevertheless, I had to stick my head under the waterfall, I just had to. Fresh cold mountain spring water is a serene moment for me and is not something I see every day, so I try to take advantage of it when I can.

  Once we got above the tree line we started being swarmed by all sorts of flies that I couldn’t identify differently from the common house fly other than to say they had a greenish tint to them. When we got to the top there were a few representatives from the Green Mountain Club, a hiking club in Vermont that help with park maintenance, among other responsibilities. In this case because it was so early in the season they were there making sure people were not stepping on the grass. They gave us lots of information. The flies had just hatched that weekend we were there, so that was the reason for the swarming. (Lucky us…note to self for next trip)  They also told us its hard to grow grass at the summit, so what little vegetation existed, their sole responsibility was to protect it. Because of the flies, we didn’t stay up there too long. It was a clear day with a nice view, but the flies really made it unbearable. The trip down was good. We met lots of day hikers and my dog got to meet a lot of other dogs along the trail.

  This hike is perfect for dogs. The trail is wide enough for Snapple, and though some parts are rocky and steep, I never clip her nails so that she has full grasp if she needs it. In the springtime she uses her paws for ice climbing, and in the summer, all the rocky hikes, similar to this one shape her nails customary.  She likes to dig through the snow in the wintertime, so I leave them long all year round, but that will be expressed more in our “dog” section of the website.

  We got a thunderstorm Saturday night, a really loud one that kept me up all hours of the night (I hate thunder in the woods, it echoes so loud and the sound seems to be so damn loud) We put up a tarp in between our 2 tents so we could still socialize, and cook our dinner without being cold, wet and soggy. We cooked jiffy pop popcorn, and ate some marinated chicken from the camp stove. Sunday morning, naturally, we woke up in a pool. Nothing excites me more than waking up, getting out of the tent and stepping into the bed of leaves and having 5 or 6 inches of water encompass my sandal. However this Sunday morning I engulfed my foot into about 15 inches of water, right below my knee. I understand nature, and I try not to get disappointed, but I hadn’t yet had a cup of tea or coffee, and hadn’t even gone for my morning bathroom trip. And trust me, it made me have to go even more.

  Later on Sunday morning, the water drained into the ground and down the mountain and it went away. I still think about that footstep from time to time and it gives me chills. I’m always conscientious of where I place my tent, but in this case, it was dark and we had not prepared to bushwhack. Besides, it wouldn’t be a camping trip if we didn’t let the good in with the bad. When we finally left to get down to the car, we were tired and sore. We got back down to the parking lot and there were a family of hikers with a dog that was off the leash. As soon as that dog saw my dog it lunged toward her. The family wasn’t doing anything to stop the dog, and I was furious. When the hiker finally came over I said “listen your dog really need to be on a leash, Vermont has leash laws.” I have no tolerance for people who don’t follow the courtesy codes of hiking. So, that ended our trip.

  In closing, I would definitely go back more prepared. I would leave myself more time than just 6pm to be hiking up to camp, and I would have another method for keeping my food rather than a cooler. Nevertheless, it made for unforgettable memories!!