Archive for July, 2024

Jul 10 2024

Profile Image of Walt

The Bushwhacking Urge

Filed under Blog Post

Every once in a while, I feel an urge to bushwhack through the woods, preferably without even a semblance of a trail. So last week I did just that. Not wanting to drive far, I went to a so-called tree farm on French Hill, where a sign invites all comers to recreate. It’s not exactly deep woods, but surprisingly wild for being only six miles away from home.

I started out on an old skidder trail overgrown with waist-high ferns and other vegetation. Ideal tick country to be sure, but I had my long pants tucked into my boots and held my arms high above the brush until I cleared it (would check myself for ticks later). Then I slipped off the trail, following a compass bearing north, feeling my way through the thick understory, catching a glimpse through the trees now and then of the beaver pond on my right.

I’ve done this hike before and know the terrain well. Basically, this bushwhack is a 2-mile circumnavigation of a sprawling beaver pond and its wetlands. My brand new hiking boots got their baptism of mud and water as I negotiated the rough terrain. An old, half-submerged stone fence enabled me to cross the wetland on the far side of the pond without getting too wet.

Once I was clear of dense alders, the forest opened up somewhat. Then mine was an easy, slow-paced tramp. The trick is to get through the woods without tripping over something and falling down. That requires patience and a keen eye – two qualities every bushwhacker must possess.

Eventually I came around to the south side of the beaver pond where I could step out for a good view. The sun shined brightly through a nearly cloudless sky. No wildlife in sight, though. I continued another quarter mile around the pond to the overgrown skidder trail then exited the woods. And that satisfied the urge for a while…

Not long after the French Hill excursion, though, I drove an hour east into the Green Mountains and did a right and proper bushwhack. I went to Basin Brook, which flows through a high valley of wild country between Laraway and Butternut Mountains. This is my number one go-to place whenever I need a deep woods fix. I drove a mile up a logging road before ditching my car and continuing on foot. Another half mile up the dirt road, I slipped into the forest on a snowmobile trail.

Upon reaching the brook, I left the snowmobile trail and bushwhacked upstream to a place where I had camped a couple years back. The stream was low, clear and inviting, but my old campsite has been washed out – presumably by last year’s heavy rain and floods. No matter. I stayed long enough to eat lunch, make an entry in my field journal, and groove on the infinite green world all around me. Then I made my way back to the snowmobile trail and hiked out.

That satisfied the bushwhacking urge for the time being. But I’ll go out again before summer’s end for sure. Next time to stay overnight and really get into it.

No responses yet