We figured that it would be a piece of cake. Tackling the rugged terrain of Calvin Coolidge State Forest in Vermont. In the dead of winter that is. After all, we had done this countless times before, backpacking during many winter seasons in the Catskill, the Adirondack, on the Appalachian Trail, and on trails and mountains elsewhere in the Eastern United States. This one would be no different, and we were ready for business, Joe and I. We drove up early on Friday so that we could spend the night at Joe's friend, Todd. Todd had recently finished building, single-handedly, a wonderfully huge house just below one of the mountains of the state forest. We had a wonderful dinner, tucked in for the night, and were ready to hit the trail at first light the next day.
Joe was in front of me when all of a sudden I heard him cry out. The next thing I noticed was that he was sliding down the side of the mountain. It all happened very quickly. I expected to be falling with him when suddenly the rope became taut. Jutting out from the side of the mountain was a small sapling; it was midway between Joe and me when he fell. So there we were, me about eight feet from the sapling, with the rope around my waste and extended around it, and Joe hanging down another eight feet from the sapling. Slowly, I was able to pull him back up to where I was on the side of the mountain. We were quite shaken up by the experience, but we knew that that sapling had saved our lives. We then realized that we had run out of trail and that there was no going forward for us, and when we looked behind we certainly had no desire of returning back way the way we had come. How we eventually got down that mountain is another story.
Photo 1: Settling in for the night after our harrowing experience earlier in the day
Photo 2: Friday night dinner at Todd's
Photo 3: Setting out on our adventure unaware of what was ahead of us