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Solo Hiking the Lye Brook Wilderness – 2 Days in Vermont’s Green Mountains

Want to hike with less crowds during peak season?  For this adventure, we visit the Lye Brook Wilderness in Southern Vermont’s Green Mountain National Forest.  This was actually a loop hike that I managed to scrap together at the last minute, due to some bad weather intervening with my plans to finally hike Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park.  Luckily, Vermont had 2 days of beautiful sunny weather, so into the hatchback we went, for another 2 day adventure.The Green Mountain National Forest is a  399,151 acre swath of land consisting of 8 Federal Wilderness Areas.  These are areas with special protections to ensure a minimal impact from us pesky humans, including restrictions on trail maintenance.  This tends to make for more rugged trails, which from my perspective, means for interesting terrain and less foot traffic.  Increasingly, I’ve come to rely on this areas to increase my odds of a more secluded experience during the peak summer hiking season.Our wilderness area of choice for this hike is the Lye Brook Wilderness, a 17,841 acre outside of Manchester, in Southern Vermont.  Established in 1975 as Federal Wilderness in 1975, the majority of it’s land resides on a high, 2,500 foot elevation plateau and is home to black bear, moose, pine martin, bobcat, deer, and various species of birds.I left after work around 3pm on a Wednesday afternoon and managed to get the trusty VW parked at the trailhead by 9:30pm for a decent night’s sleep.  My plan was to do a loop hike and return to the car on day two, after visiting a couple deep woods ponds.I began by following an old ATV trail to the Long Trail / Appalachian Trail to the Branch Pond Trail where I passed the Douglas Shelter on my way to the 48 acre Bourne Pond.  Having gotten an early start and makiing good time, I explored the Bourne Pond camp site, but decided to keep moving along the Lye Brook Trail towards Stratton Pond, Vermont’s largest body of water along the Long Trail.  Things were made more interesting on the way there due to the damage caused in 2009 by a Microburst, which caused significant destruction and flooding along the Lye Brook Trail.  Coupled with the fact that trails may only be maintained by hand tools within Federal Wilderness Areas, repair has been slow, but at this point it’s at least passable.  Eventually I made it to the North Shore Tent Site to set up camp before heading up to the summit of Stratton Mountain with a lighter load.  This is a fairly popular camp site with direct access from the adjacent Long Trail / Appalachian Trail, but luckily I was the first to arrive and grab a sweet spot by the pond.  This was would be my first experience sharing an established tent site like this, but even I have to be social sometimes, .. I guess.After setting up a decent bivouac site and cooking up some lunch, I headed South along the Long Trail towards the fire tower at Southern Vermont’s highest peak, Stratton Mountain.  At an elevation of 3,936 feet, the fire tower affords excellent views covering four states: the Green Mountains to the North, the White Mountains to the Northeast, the Berkshires to the South, and the Adirondacks to the West.  Total Mileage for Day 1: 18 milesAfter a good nights sleep, I headed back towards the car on day two along the more traveled Long Trail through another section of the Lye Brook Wilderness.  Total Mileage for day two was a modest 8 miles, which I covered a little faster than expected due to the more well maintained trail conditions.  Total trip mileage was 26 miles.  Trip time start to finish, 29.5 hours.  Again, a bit faster than I wanted, but it did leave me with extra time to explore Vermont my car looking for that perfect cheeseburger….My Hiking Gear List:Kelty Salida 2 Tent
EMS Long Trail 70 Backpack
EMS “Stuffer” Jacket
EMS Pack Cover
2 ReVive Solar ReStore chargers for video camera, phone, etc
Osprey 2 liter Nalgene Bladder for hydration
Sawyer Squeeze Water Filtration System
1 Liter Disposable Plastic Water Bottle
Taurus 740 Slim Sub-Compact Pistol
Green Mountains paper map print-outs from Topo 9 software
Swiss Gear  (Cork Handle Model)
Therm-A-Rest Z-Lite foam sleeping pad
Suisse Sport 30 Degree Mummy Bag (yes, this is a cheap $35 bag, but it does the job)
Nemo Fillo (inflatable pillow)
Sunscreen
Brunton Classic Compass
Beef Jerky, pop-tarts, trail mix, snacks etc
‘Light My Fire’ Spork
Homemade Ultralight Cookset – video: 
Instant Coffee!
1 oz bottle of Ben’s Max 100 98% DEET insect repellent
Sea To Summit ‘Insect Shield’ Mosquito Head Neat (It’s Black Fly Season!)
EMS Camp Cap (synthetic fast dry, & lightweight!)
EMS Convertible Camp Pants /  Shorts
EMS ‘Velocity’ synthetic lightweight long sleeve shirt
Nike ‘Pro Combat’ synthetic tee shirt
EMS synthetic socks
Garmont Zenith Mid GTX Hiking Boots
4Sevens Preon 2 Flashlight
Princeton Tec Byte Headlamp
Leatherman Squirt Ultra-Light Multi-Tool
SOG Blink Spring Assisted Knife