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Backpacker Magazine – October 2011

Rip & Go: Stratton Loop - Lye Brook Wilderness, VT

Climb to an expansive view of green rollers that inspired two long trails.

by: Lisa Densmore

Boardwalk across an unnamed stream (Photo by Bill Bessette)
Boardwalk across an unnamed stream (Photo by Bill Bessette)
Microburst (Photo by Lisa Densmore)
Microburst (Photo by Lisa Densmore)

Take it With You
Download a printable PDF of this entire weekend.

GPS-Enabled Trip Report
See this trip on a map, download it to your phone, GPS, or computer, and more.

Key Skill : Cooking with Fire
Campfires are legal in designated fire pits at tent sites and shelters along the Appalachian and Long Trails. Leave the stove at home and perfect your campfire chef skills with this basic primer on three essential cooking methods.

Rock platform Gather a few flat rocks and, in the fire pit, build two six-inch-tall towers separated by a four-inch channel. Make sure the pot sits on the platform without wobbling. Build the fire and push coals into the channel; keep flames low to prevent scorching. Best for: Stews, soups, and pasta dishes.

Dutch oven Place the pot on a three-inch-thick bed of coals, and use a rock or stout slab of bark to shovel hot coals on top of its lid. Rake coals up along the edges of the pot for higher heat. Best for: baking biscuits, cinnamon rolls, and pot pies.

Foil pouch  Coat a 12-by-12-inch square of heavy-duty aluminum foil with a few drops of oil or butter (to prevent sticking). Place your food directly in the center of the foil square. Wrap the foil loosely around your dinner, but ensure it’s sealed (to trap steam and prevent leaks). Place the pouch on the edge of the coals and turn it at least once. Best for: steaming veggies, meat-and-veggie meals, delicate fish, and recipes that require little or no liquid.

See This: The Effects of a Microburst
These intense downdrafts, with winds that top 100 mph, last only minutes, but that’s all it takes to turn 2.5 square miles of forest into a giant pile of pick-up sticks. In 2006, a microburst leveled the trees on a short section of the Lye Brook Trail between Bourn Pond and Stratton Pond. The destruction also breeds rejuvenation: Wild raspberries (ripe in July) and other early succession shrubs took root within a year. The weather phenomenon occurs year-round, but is rare in winter.

Locals Know
In the early 20th century, two men separately summited Stratton Mountain and saw the future of long-distance trails. In 1909, five years before the now-famous fire tower was erected, James P. Taylor envisioned a “long trail” that would link the peaks of Vermont’s Green Mountains, from the Massachusetts border to the Canadian border. Twelve years later, Benton MacKaye gazed out from Stratton and hatched a plan to establish a path along the entire length of the Appalachian Mountains, from Georgia to Maine. Taylor, an instructor at Vermont Academy, organized a crew of 23, and dubbed the trail builders the Green Mountain Club. The final section of the Long Trail (at the Canadian border) was completed in 1930. The Appalachian Trail’s completion was not so precisely documented. But, in 1948, Earl Shaffer—a self-employed antiques purveyor from York, Pennsylvania—became the first person to thru-hike the entire AT. He traveled northbound and completed the trek in 124 days.

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