Vermont and Ontario October 2011 Trip Report
© October 2011 Adam Helman
(Click on any image for enlargement.)

Note 1: Mouse-click any image for detail.
Note 2: Photographs from Greg Slayden are labeled "(GS)".


In 2008 Bob Packard and I encountered multiple problems at Ontario's highpoint while on a cross-Canada peakbagging journey. We abandoned the effort without even starting the hike / bushwhack. However Greg Slayden also covets Ishpatina Ridge as part of his grand quest to climb all 13 Canada province highpoints. So when he suggests a trip there Bob and I sign-on without hesitation!

I want more venues than one hilltop to justify flying so far. So I dream of completing the Vermont county highpoints - a worthy goal by itself, although certainly not a substitute for having finished the Idaho list this past summer. I purchase airline tickets....

...and then hurricane Irene destroys much of Vermont's road infrastructure. It's fully six weeks before my flight date, and I along with several county highpointers avidly watch and wait as bridges are repaired and trailheads made accessible. It will only take one of six county highpoints to be remain unavailable for my state completion to fail. Yet eventually all venues are accounted for, and such that I do not have to rely upon alternative plans that include much highpointing in New Hampshire and Maine.

I have 489 total counties, tantalizingly near the 500-mark to consider exactly 11 counties such that my count remains that value for the several months until another county top is reached. As a palindrome, I also consider 505 counties as a good stopping-point. That goal would entail highpointing in southwestern Maine after the weather turns "south". I choose, instead, to visit Niagara Falls and other sites, prior to meeting Bob and Greg in Buffalo, New York for the drive into Canada.

The overall itinerary follows.

Ishpatina Ridge can be reached by hiking, canoe, or on-skis over frozen lakes in the winter. Each option has its drawbacks. When Greg learns of a new, shortened overland route with only 18 miles round-trip length it tips the balance favoring a hike as that distance is feasible in a single day without the need for overnight packs and camping.

autumn leaves
Autumn colors at peak "leaf" season in northern Massachusetts.

Trip Details

Wednesday, October 5 - inbound flights

This nineteen hour day starts at 4:10 a.m. at home and concludes past 2 in the morning at a gravel lot somewhere in Syracuse, New York. I have driven to Richard Carey's home close-by the airport; flown to Newark, New Jersey on a 737-800 jetliner; waited for my Buffalo flight with a 90 minute delay; and driven 140 miles east on the New York thruway, Interstate-90. So tired by then, I feel like the orange construction zone cones and painted road barriers are about to hit ME.

Thursday, October 6 - Grand Isle County

I drove the mileage so that there would be no doubt I'd reach the southern area of Grand Isle County, Vermont before the winery closes at 5 p.m. Indeed, I cross into Vermont at Lake Champlain around noon (having taken US Route 11), and visit the northern area around 1 p.m. Then I meet the winery's cheerful lady manager who grants access to the southern highpoint area.

Indeed, I even locate a path going directly to the high ground, and as described in this trip report. It's taken on the return, and, seeing no "interesting" wines for sale, purchase a trio of edibles instead - marinated carrots in vinegar (unremarkable), a maple syrup teriyaki sauce (great on anything savory), and mango-habanero jam (what heat!).

A choice. I've already climbed Jay Peak and have no desire to repeat that route from a gap ("pass") in VT Route 242. Instead I plan on the ski lift set to open at 10 a.m. and then traverse to Big Jay of Franklin County. Being super-tired I need a real bed, and sleep at a Burlington, Vermont area Motel 6 for ten straight hours.

Friday, October 7 - Big Jay and East Mountain

Temperatures hover in the upper thirties. I expect it to be freezing at the Jay Peak Ski Resort, yet on arrival at 9:15 a.m. it's 44 degrees. Down in the valley, immediately south, it was ten degrees cooler - a result of cold air sinking wherever it can.

Weather is impeccable. I purchase a gondola lift ticket and learn that on Fridays it does not start until noon. I become most upset since this ruins my plan to bag East Mountain of Essex County that very afternoon. I was assured by phone one week ago that the gondola operates from 10 to 5 through October 12.

I approach both the resort front desk and the staff responsible for actually running the lift, explaining that I've come from California, have a return flight that evening (!), and would have to either return NEXT YEAR or downclimb by darkness my second peak (not explaining it is in-truth simply on a road).

"Safety" was my trump card, elaborating on how "very dangerous" that would be and knowing that "angle" would get their attention in this hyper-safety conscious nation (a topic for another time).

THAT gets people's attention - and after a phone call the lift operator magically appears.

They perform a "test run" prior to accepting passengers ... and it's already 10 a.m. I ask to ride with the test operator, learning that it's never done. I exclaim that I don't understand why my life is more valuable than HIS; and with that shared concept I find myself taking the test run at 10:07 a.m.

Fair enough. Just the two of us - all other paid tourists had to wait. The round-trip hike to Big Jay's top is 90 minutes (there's an upended sled hanging from a tree next to the register!). Details of the effort are described in this trip report.

Back at the car around 12:15 p.m., I am able to hike East Mountain of Essex County starting from the "upper gate" by 3:35 p.m. ... and finish in 3.0 hours, with my return about 30 minutes after sunset. I never require a headlamp - the moon assures it. Details of the effort are described in this trip report.

I drive down Radar Road by darkness, and car-camp at a pullout along VT Route 102 a few miles north US Route 2. There's a cell phone signal...

After supper on the back seats I lie inside the sleeping bag, only to kneel upright at 8:30 with a terrifying realization:

I don't have my passport!

It was left behind, with thoughts of "Vermont" during packing that overwhelmed any realization that I am also going to Canada.

I mull over numerous scenarios for how to retrieve my passport. Finally I am convinced the following plan should work.

Sparing you the suspense, this plan does succeed, and yet not without a potential disaster - Greg's address is identical to another residence apart from the replacement of "Place" for "Street". The passport arrived on Tuesday to the wrong address. On Wednesday a man drives to Greg's home and asks if the package was meant for him instead.

My passport was nearly lost in the mail.

Pleased that a plan has been set in-motion, I have some cookies and fall asleep at 11 p.m.

Saturday, October 8 - Camels Hump

It's nearly three hours driving to the trailhead, and mainly along US Route 2 - the same highway I am familiar with through northern Montana where it's called the "High Line".

A thick slice of "breakfast pizza" is discovered at the gas station - stuffed with ham and some scrambled eggs, it's totally delicious. THEN I have my standard breakfast of champions when driving - mocha and granola bar (read, "sugar and caffeine"); and IT WORKS to achieve the desired state of hypervigilence.

Camels Hump
Northeast view with I-89
from Camels Hump summit.

It's a holiday weekend with gorgeous weather, and Camels Hump is a revered 4,000 footer in these parts. This perfect storm of popularity makes for hundreds of hikers this morning along the 2.6 mile route. I pass everybody, of course, even though I am intentionally "holding-back" to avoid overstressing a right leg injury last Spring while training for Denali.

Back down before 2 p.m., I wish to tour the Ben & Jerry's factory yet VT Route 100 is completely jammed with traffic just north of Interstate-89. I turn about and abandon the effort. After pizza I slowly head south on VT-100 to Lincoln Gap where I expect a heavy hiking presence as well - and am not surprised. Fortunately I locate a vacated parking space just 75 yards from the trailhead.

Mount Ellen and Adam
Adam and Mount Ellen as the
most distant green mountain.

After darkness falls I enjoy supper on the back seats, including a seafood salad croissant sandwich and Greek dolmades purchased just two hours earlier. The crowds slowly dissipate, my vehicle one of the few remaining overnight (the others must be for Long Trail backpackers).

Sunday, October 9 - Mount Abraham and Mount Ellen

This is the longest effort of my Vermont travels, and includes reaching the Addison County highpoint, Mount Abraham, along the same ridge with Mount Ellen. Camels Hump and Ellen vie for the title of Washington County highpoint; and the highest one has over 2,000 feet of prominence.

I begin around 7 a.m., sunrise, and return around 2 p.m. - exactly the seven hours cited in certain reports. Atop Mount Abraham I meet a local man trained in ecology, and he joins me for about the half mile north to the first ridgeline bump before turning back. It's a nice conversation. Later, atop Mount Ellen, I meet another man who is backpacking solo from Canada to Massachusetts.

Mount Ellen cairn right
ON the Long Trail.

On returning to Mount Abraham I find its summit crowded with families and their canine pets. A few details are described in this trip report.

The western approach to Brandon Gap, for Windsor County's Gillespie Peak, is still closed from a destroyed bridge that has yet to be fully repaired. So I drive west to US Route 7 for a western approach along VT Route 73. I stop for lunch at the omnipresent Dunkin Donuts and am somewhat disappointed in their rendition of a tuna melt. Far better is a caramel sundae ice cream novelty.

Driving east of Brandon I encounter a "ROAD CLOSED" sign in the street's very middle. I ignore it, and yet a few miles later is a flashing light with electronic sign "BRIDGE OUT". I continue driving east, and reach the parking lot for Brandon Gap where there's only four vehicles and nobody around. Surely the road warnings and lack of a nearby 4,000 footer to hike has eliminated the vast numbers of casual hikers this weekend.

boulder slabs
Boulder slabs while descending
Mount Abraham.

Nightfall comes and I eat supper on the back seats. Tomorrow's effort should only take four hours.

Monday, October 10 - Gillespie Peak and Pack Monadnock Mountain

Indeed. Still, Mount Horrid is aptly named with its steeper sections on a south-facing slope that must be hellish for backpackers on a hot summer afternoon. Gillespie Peak's subpeak, immediately south, furnishes the majority of elevation gain after one drops down north off of Horrid and Cape Lookoff Mountain.

I complete Vermont with very little view, and enjoy a snack while contemplating the return effort.

Down by 11 a.m., I see a Chinese-speaking teenager and his mother getting ready for a hike. A young man returns to his auto after hiking the short distance to a climbing venue, the Great Cliff, located 400 feet above the trailhead. Presumably he retrieved a piece of rock protection - he was back too quickly to have done any climbing and was carrying no gear at all on his approach hike. These appear to be the only other people at Brandon Gap - again, a huge contrast with both Lincoln Gap and Camels Hump.

There's plenty of time for driving south, east, and then south again for Pack Monadnock Mountain of Hillsborough County, New Hampshire before the state park closes near sundown. This would have been impossible had I reversed plans, as suggested by a Vermont highpointer, and completed on the more arduous Abraham/Ellen pair.

I visit the three desired spots after driving to the summit parking area. It's a steep drive for both the first 0.5 mile and the final 0.1 mile.

I treat myself to a Motel 6 room for having finished the Green Mountain State. This evening, after a self-heating turkey and potatoes meal I purchase the most appropriate item imaginable to celebrate: a pint of Ben & Jerry's ice cream. It's a new flavor, "Late Night Snack", described as "Vanilla Bean Ice Cream with a Salty Caramel Swirl & Fudge Covered Potato Chip Clusters".

I feel very very happy.

solstice stones solstice stones
The Holt Hill solstice stones
with daypack for scale.
The outer circle has stones
along 12 compass points -
every 30 degrees.

Tuesday, October 11 - Essex, Middlesex and Hampshire Counties, Massachusetts

These highpoints are quite easily done, entailing little effort apart from getting to them. Holt Hill of Essex County supports solstice stones at the roundish top as described elsewhere. Details of my Middlesex County hike are in this trip report despite a plethora of existing reports since new, helpful information is provided.

Hurricane Irene has damaged several miles of MA Route 2 east of Adams. At Charlemont I divert south onto Route 8A and take it 10 miles to Route 116. A mile west I park at the beach noted by others. It's 4:30 p.m. - just enough time to bushwhack south for West Mountain (Hampshire County) and return before dark. I would not normally do this - yet the weather forecast calls for rain late the next day and so want to get my 500th county highpoint beforehand. That objective is aided by hiking #499 now rather than in the morning.

A pretty, full moon rises through the clouds.

benchmark summit cairn
Trailhead sign at Middlesex County.
Note the autumn colors.
A large summit cairn 1,800 feet
northwest of Crum Hill's
named summit.

Wednesday, October 12 - Crum Hill (Franklin County, Massachusetts)

I return to Charlemont and talk to a police officer with vehicle blocking Route 2 a few miles west of Charlemont. He advises I make a large end-around using Route 8A south, Route 116 west, and finally Route 8 north through Adams and North Adams to reach my next objective. He notes where coffee is available in town - and I pay double ($2) for adding two packages of cocoa mix into the beverage: I like it reeeeeally sweet.

The time saved by hiking West Mountain yesterday is lost with this three-sides-of-a-square maneuver. Still, I'm at the "trailhead" for Crum Hill and its northwestern peak around 9:30 a.m.; and sign-into the summit register at 10 a.m. or so. The exact time, to the minute, is indicated in my note - yet I forget the value.1 New, useful information for Franklin County is available in this trip report.

It's only noon and I have three entire days before meeting Bob and Greg in Buffalo some 350 miles west. Vermont is done, and I just got my 500th county highpoint. What to do now with the weather finally deteriorating?

I stop for lunch at Cumberland Farms, a chain of convenience store / gas stations and enjoy two hot dogs for $2.22. One gets my dill havarti cheese, and then oven-toasted by the cashier. I mention this all because the interior is very well organized and has a wider variety of quality food than other convenience stores. In a word, "superior".

I aim for an air museum at the Schenectady, New York airport. Unfortunately it's closed until the weekend. So I drive west farther still and stop in Syracuse, New York for the night. There is a hard rain.

1 I do recall, however, that it's an "Illimani time" on an "Illimani date", that is, all digits are either "0", "1" or "2".
  I climbed Bolivia's Nevado Illimani in 2001 with a traditional elevation of 21,201 feet.
  Details of these considerations are available (see the Addendum).

quintuple centurion!
I am treated to this display at
after logging my New England ascents.

Thursday, October 13 - Fort Stanwix National Monument

Yesterday I accidentally called John Mitchler for Motel 6 information along my route (I had intended to reach Bob Bolton). However that turned out fortuitous as John told me about the Fort Stanwix National Monument in Rome, New York. After an Internet session at a nearly library I have enough data to backtrack the 40 miles and reach its highpoint by just circumnavigating the fort on-foot. There is significant 18th Century history related to this edifice and its location. Details of my visit are available.

Fort Stanwix
Fort Stanwix lies entirely inside Rome, New York.

I drive clear to Buffalo this evening under dark, ominous skies.

Friday, October 14 - Niagara Falls

Nikola Tesla's polyphase
alternating current designs
changed the modern world
beginning at Niagara Falls.

This well-known venue is worth the effort. In fact, I claim it's the most spectacular natural wonder east of the Mississippi River. Other falls have more height, and some have more volume. However Niagara Falls holds-its-own appeal regardless.

It's raining, of course, and I forego both the "Maiden-of-the-Mist" boat tour and cave visit in favor of simply walking to the falls. It's actually about one mile, past the American Falls, to the far broader Horseshoe Falls. I'm the only visitor there since the open stretch of water allows a cold wind to howl, which, combined with the general wetness makes it generally unappealing. Only rain gear allows me to tolerate the conditions.

I return by GPS unit (!) and have lunch at the international food court, choosing the Chinese food in favor of boring American stuff. The "spare ribs with black bean sauce" is insipid, with the cheapest cuts of meat being used - and similarly for the "ginger chicken". I use quotation marks because I neither taste black beans nor ginger. I request something to spice the food, and the obviously cheap, cost-cutting manager returns with a small plate containing hot chili oil. For $12.96 the meal is a poor choice.

I get a Motel 6 room by 3 p.m. because it's raining and I'll have a much better time for several hours inside the room watching educational TV programs and the news. It's also nice to be clean for meeting Bob and Greg tomorrow.

Saturday, October 15 - meeting in Buffalo; Niagara District highpoint

The weather is miserable. I have no desire to visit downtown Buffalo under these conditions. So I check-out quite late and have a 1 1/2 hour E-mail session at one public library. I visited it yesterday only to learn they are closed JUST on Fridays.

I learn Greg Slayden has posted my Vermont state completion to the county highpointers E-group - and that I reached 500 counties. I feel great as Lanny Wexler dubs me "quincentennial man".

I pack everything into three bags in preparation for returning the rental, and do this entirely inside the car since the wind is most strong. Soon enough I am waiting in the baggage claim area - by 2 p.m. fully three hours before we agreed to meet.

Bob's flight arrives a bit early, and we wait briefly for Greg to come. All our belongings accounted for (including my passport!), we cross into Canada bound for the Niagara District highpoint around sundown. It's a trivial effort of some 100 yards each-way. We continue north on the QEW (Queen Elizabeth Way) and rent a single room in Burlington between Hamilton, Ontario and Toronto.

There's a room microwave oven, thence used to cook "noodles Alfredo" provided by Bob. He's never cooked that dish in such a device, and we overestimate the amount of water. Still, after enough time (over 20 minutes!) the noodles have the correct consistency.

I sleep on the floor.

Sunday, October 16 - drive north and head-start

There is some spare time as we arise at 6 a.m. fully 1 1/2 hours before sunrise for the drive north. In Sudbury, Ontario we stop at a supermarket and Canadian Tire - a well-known chain selling everything for the home and outdoors. Here a tarp and string are purchased so all three of us can camp away from the vehicle if desired (Bob's tent normally holds two people).

The river we MUST cross. (GS)

We have sizeable lunches in Capreol, the final community before our dirt road driving and trailhead. My turkey tetrazini is basically a pasta bowl with classic Alfredo sauce and turkey chunks. Bob has liver and onions; while Greg eats fish and chips.

Ishpatina Ridge is a long day by our chosen route. Being only about 3:30 p.m. we decide to shorten it by hiking-in three miles on a logging road this afternoon and camp remotely. That's nothing - yet we must first cross the river on-foot. It's about 100 feet wide and perhaps 18 inches at greatest depth. Trekking poles help balance, and we switch back from sandals and tennis shoes into boots on the far side. We are pleased this is now over with.

However neither Bob nor I have an overnight pack. Greg has borrowed his brother Keith's pack, and it's filled with the overflow of stuff that cannot fit into our daypacks. Greg, the largest of us, carries it - and finds it quite uncomfortable because it's an inferior, cheap brand of pack. Still, it's only 90 minutes to our camp, and we arrive around 5 p.m. under partly cloudy skies.

Greg erects the tarp between two trees, Bob fixes the tent for himself and I, and we all have supper using a single gas fuel bottle. By 7:20 p.m. we are all in our bags - and prepared to be there for 11 hours straight.

Monday, October 17 - Ishpatina Ridge Greg's Ishpatina Ridge report

It starts raining gently after 4 a.m., and after I decide it's not just wind on the tent fly I alert Greg to move under the tarp rather than sleep under the stars. It continues on-and-off for 1 1/2 hours, sometimes more strongly, all-the-while destroying my desire to get outside - after all, there is little worse than preparing to hike in the cold and dark ... with rain.2 I abandon the concept of using the stove for hot oatmeal outdoors, and have it cold with milk inside the tent.

summit boulder
This boulder may very well be
Ontario's highest natural ground. (GS)

We start in the rain at 7:20 a.m. twenty minutes before sunrise. It rains continually - not a hard rain yet enough to soak everything worn. Worse, I cannot wear gloves because they will eventually become too wet to provide insulation. Never before have I encountered this combination of near-freezing temperatures (necessitating gloves) with a prolonged rain event. I do everything possible to keep my fingers warm, including violent arm motions, hands-in-pockets, clenching fists, blowing hot air on them, and even fingers inside my mouth.

The route becomes a bushwhack, as expected. However it's not "too bad" as we make reasonable progress. This portion ends at a shoreline where others leave their canoes for the final 2 mile hike. In those 2 miles about 1,000 feet of net elevation is gained - nearly the day's entire amount.

summit tower
Greg (photo right) and Adam
at the summit tower -
it's COLD! (GS)

It begins to snow lightly perhaps 300 or 400 feet under the summit. It's actually better than freezing rain since it does not stick to clothing and wetten hands (which then become unresponsive).

We reach the summit plateau, aiming first for a boulder followed by the obvious tower. Then we bushwhack 800 feet northwest to another candidate area. There is no evidence that anybody has previously been there. We return to the tower, take pictures, and descend a few hundred feet to eat lunch without the wind. My fingers are too numb for some tasks, and Greg assists me as I eat an "everything" bagel with leftover havarti cheese and this odd blood sausage ("boudin") from the Sudbury market. That 4-foot boulder, immediately east of the tower, may be the highest natural ground.

We return 2 miles to the shoreline camp (with much junk from previous groups) and have a respectable break. It's largely stopped raining, and, now wearing my parka under the rain gear, I am warm enough for the first time in several hours.

night crossing
Adam crosses the river at dusk.
Image is electronically altered to
improve brightness and constrast (GS).

The bushwhack portion is re-negotiated, this time taking a higher line at the short portion where no flagging tape exists to guide us. Soon enough we are back on a "normal" trail followed by the road. We deconstruct camp from 5 to 5:30 p.m. and arrive at the river crossing in nearly complete darkness around 6:50 p.m. My boots and socks are so wet that I just cross wearing them, realizing that I can immediately change into dry tennis shoes. In contrast, Bob and Greg DO change from boots to tennis shoes for the crossing.

It's still quite wet all-about, and we are unanimous to drive 2 1/2 hours for a hotel rather than camp in this mess. Sadly, only the most expensive rooms are still available at 10 p.m. in Sudbury - and we get two rooms because much space is needed to dry out a "ton" of gear.

Ishpatina Ridge, with its unwelcome weather, will not be soon forgotten. More importantly, it's the highlight of our trip; and, with success there, we can "let our hair down" and leisurely visit several other (and generally trivial) Canadian district highpoints.

2 Worse still is "doing #2" in a blizzard, with zero temperatures outside the tent on a big mountain.
  That is truly the nadir of one's existence, baring one's behind amidst the raging tempest without option.

Tuesday, October 18 - Cup and Saucer (Manitoulin District highpoint)

Sudbury has the world's tallest smokestack (1,250 feet), and for a good view we park in the employee lot for the vast smelting operation which still uses it. Sudbury, recall, is the center for nickel mining - and also, in far lesser quantities, of the rare and highly-valued platinum group metals.

We visit the world's largest nickel - a 50 foot tall rendition of the Canadian five-cent piece. The metal disk seems to be roughly 30 feet in diameter and has 12 sides.

We had two potential days to choose amongst for Ishpatina Ridge. Sadly, we guessed wrong as today features fair skies. We use it to enjoy a 4 mile round-trip hike to the top of Manitoulin Island and dubbed "Cup and Saucer", presumably because it's the world's largest island inside a lake (Lake Huron). Further, within Lake Manitou, contained within Manitoulin Island, is the world's largest lake inside an island lake!

This regression continues at least one more level: Treasure Island lies within Mindemoya Lake which in-turn lies within Manitoulin Island (which lies within Lake Huron). It is the world's largest island in a lake in an island in a lake.

We run out of daylight for any more efforts, and, after a mid-afternoon snack binge along Route 400, share a room very near Lake Huron just east of Collingwood. Had we not spent over an hour having large restaurant breakfasts this morning followed by sightseeing (so leaving town no earlier than 11 a.m.) we likely could have done some more highpoints today.

Bob at the precipice
Bob at a precipice on the Cup and Saucer hike. Don't push! (GS)

Wednesday, October 19 - Niagara Escarpment and Dufferin District; Toronto highpoint

The Niagara Escarpment is a 450 million year old semicircularly-shaped geological formation stretching from western New York, southern Ontario, through Lake Huron, under Michigan's Upper Peninsula, and into eastern Wisconsin.

Its highest ground is either the Simcoe or Gray District highpoint, both of which are shown as 544 meter spot elevations in Ontario. We hike to both of these points today, starting with Simcoe District as a roughly 90 minute hike with 300 feet of total elevation gained. A bushwhack through swamp shortens the distance on the ascent and consumes 45 minutes. The descent, using winter snow routes as roads, takes just 39 minutes. There is only a hint of rain.

Gray District is much shorter, and we visit several bumps within two contours that might contain the highest ground.

Then we visit the Dufferin District highpoint some 150 yards northeast of the parked SUV. It's all kind of silly - yet these are county highpoint equivalents all the same.

Finally we enter Toronto and visit the city and eponymous district highpoint within a grass athletic field.

We return to the USA, Greg leaving Bob and myself at the same Motel 6 I am familiar with from October 14. We share room 209 until noting the heater fails to dry my boots and socks. Thereby we move next door to #207.

Bob and I eat dinner at Friendly's a quarter mile away, walking there despite the wind and possible rain. They specialize in ice cream treats, and so after my "main dish" of crinkle-cut french fries smothered in cheese (this is actually a huge portion), enjoy a sundae with black raspberry and pistachio flavors topped in walnuts. I wanted a steak yet only found a steak-tips salad which seemed like a waste of nine dollars for mainly lettuce.

On the news a most bizarre incident is described wherein an Ohio man commits suicide after releasing 56 exotic animals into the countryside. Sadly, nearly all are shot rather than captured.

Thursday, October 20 - flights home

We have a most lazy morning in the room, and take a taxi at 10:30 for the airport. My 12:39 p.m. flight departs on-time, and similarly for the main flight west from Newark.

I save a used USA Today newspaper headlining the animal escapade. In the weather section a nearly continent-wide forecast shows highs in the 40s for much of southern Ontario - yet there's a tiny "blip" of a different shade, representing "highs in the 30s", for, that's right - an area just north of Sudbury, Ontario. Normally I would not have noticed...

Shiprock, New Mexico is identified outside the left-side window, allowing me to follow our progress thereafter into San Diego. It's a prominent landmark sacred to the Navajo, and completely illegal to climb by any route.


EVERY hill, summit and intended goal is realized on this journey! I claim that Vermont is my favorite state east of the Mississippi River for county highpointing - and because it has "real mountains" for the overwhelming majority of highpoints.

With Vermont I now have, along with just Bob Packard, completed the only two states named after the concept of "mountain": Montana (Spanish for "mountain") and Vermont (French for "green mountain"). Clearly, completing Vermont was a cakewalk by comparison. Nevertheless it was enjoyable. Here is the resulting timestamped map from October 21, 2011 showing exactly 500 completed counties.

The rental vehicle's odometer goes from 14,845 to 16,618 miles, a total of 1,773 miles prior to its return on the 15th. The Buffalo-Ishpatina Ridge-Buffalo driving is 1,118 miles for a total of 2,891 road miles.

I thank Greg Slayden for his research and trip planning for all seven Ontario district highpoints, especially Sudbury District's Ishpatina Ridge. It was nice to "sit back" and trust someone else with trip planning. Besides, I had enough information to amass for my own portion of the journey through New England.

I also thank numerous county highpointers who aided in determining that all required Vermont trailheads were road-accessible after Hurricane Irene.

It is always a pleasure to go peakbagging with Bob Packard.

Horseshoe Falls
Iconic Horseshoe (Canadian) Falls exceeds 2,000 feet in width
and typically flows at over 600,000 gallons per second.