Sep 15 2010

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Vermont’s Foothills

Posted at 9:15 am under Blog Post

A week after hiking the AT with my friend John, what stays with me is the dreamy nature of Vermont’s Piedmont – that sparsely populated stretch of hilly country between the main spine of the Green Mountains and the Connecticut River.

Some would call it the better part of Vermont, far away from the hustle and bustle of the much more urban Champlain Valley where I live and work.  Some think of it as Real Vermont, still largely untainted by “flatlander” influences.  Its wooded foothills and pastoral valleys have their charm, no doubt.  As a deep woods wanderer, the Vermont’s Piedmont isn’t my turf.  Not really.  But I’ve definitely come to appreciate it.

“Excuse me,” I said to the cow standing in my way, right in the middle of the trail.  Fact is, I was walking a high pasture through which the AT was passing.  No, not my deep woods wandering at all.  Yet quite charming in its own way.  Yeah, this is picture postcard Vermont.

On a cool, overcast September afternoon these foothills have a quality that is hard to describe.  A cricket chirped incessantly while John and I took an extended break after a long, gradual climb.  Otherwise, all was quiet.  The ridges we saw from the open field seemed to go on forever.  Houses were visible from every lookout.  Sometimes we could see a highway in the valley below, a ski area carved from a hillside, or some other kind of development.  All the same a piercing silence persisted, as if the passage of time meant very little here.  Perhaps it doesn’t.

My muscles no longer ache and the blisters on my feet have healed.  All my backpacking gear is cleaned and put away.  Yesterday I went for a long walk on the Rail Trail with my dog.  It felt like the turning of a page.  Soon I’ll slip into familiar mountains here in the northern part of the state and groove with the wild the way I usually do.  But that walk across Vermont’s foothills will linger in the recesses of my mind quite some time, I’m sure.  That curious blend of field and forest seems like the best of all possible worlds, as if the Green Mountain State is actually capable of living up to the advertisements in tourist brochures.  Imagine that.

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