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  • Writer's pictureIzzy Risitano

Round Top Shelter via the Long Trail

Updated: Nov 6, 2022

With the end of my first year of college approaching far more rapidly than I would like, I had been sure to make note of bucket list items I wanted to get in before leaving Northern Vermont for the summer. The top of this list? A night on the Long Trail so that Ryan and I could have a good reason for a long walk to go make mac & cheese.

Sunset from Round Top Shelter

We had started planning the trip with the knowledge that we weren't working with a lot of time. We didn't want one of the super-popular shelters but we also didn't have time for a long walk out in the morning, so the Round Top idea was born. Starting just ten minutes away from NVU Johnson, we set off from Route 15 towards Prospect Rock on our light 3-mile walk in with about 1,300 feet of elevation gain. We could've made it even shorter by starting from Prospect Rock Road, but decided against it because we wanted to work for the mac & cheese at least a little bit. Plus we like hiking (I suppose) and I needed to test out my new trail shoes.

Shortly after the parking lot, we approached a metal ladder and a river crossing. Perfect, my two least favorite things. The river crossing was unsuccessful for me with a left-foot soaking and half successful for Ryan, as he simply threw his bag across and jumped with the lessened weight on his shoulders to clear the deeper water. After the first crossing, we came up to a gorgeous bridge that crossed the Lamoille River. Onward from the water, we got to see all sorts of fascinating rocks covered in moss & ferns before nearing Prospect Rock. Though we didn't get the view due to Falcon nesting, what we did see looked promising and I will certainly be returning.

My two least favorite things

The rest of the hike towards the hut gained steadily and provided us ample views through the trees that had yet to grow their leaves back.

Upon approaching the shelter, I became incredibly embarrassing. I was running around like a kid on Christmas, quite literally sprinted down to the water pump which I tried feverishly to produce water from until Ryan told me that thing probably hadn't worked in years. Tragic.

After running BACK up to the shelter, I took in the stunning view from the backside of the hut and grew even more excited as I realized we were going to get to see the best sunset ever. Despite spending so much time outside, I had never seen a mountain sunset. So I became even more ecstatic.

Faulty water pump

My pack through the sky light

Camp trail sign

After setting up our home for the night and hanging the rope for the bear bag, we started thinking about not getting hypothermia for the night. It wasn't deadly cold, but it was around thirty-five degrees and windy. So if we stayed warm, no problem. But if we needed to get warm, problem. We piled on the jackets and enjoyed our sunset before making gluten-free pepper jack mac & cheese, taking my regular tooth-brush-headlamp (I imagine this is the name of the granola version of the band Car Seat Headrest), and figuring out how we were going to stay warm with two camp blankets, two sleeping pads, but only one sleeping bag. Ultimately, we pulled it off but as the night went on it did get colder if even one finger left the blanket cocoons we'd made.

Ryan cheffin' as I keep getting distracted by the sunset

The mac!

My "proof of backpacking" picture

Waking up to the sounds of birds and that we didn't have any excessive issues from the cold was quite the relief and allowed us to get a slow start to the morning before hiking out 1-mile, grabbing breakfast at the local farm, and heading our own ways for our 11 am commitments. Talk about camp efficiency.

Inside of the shelter

Maple Hill Barn breakfast taco

Yet again, the Long Trail provided me a great experience with great company; shoutout to Ryan for continuously coming with me on my wack spring-hiking ideas. This has seemed to be a really lovely theme of the three Long Trail overnights I've been lucky enough to have this school year and one I imagine will stay true as I complete many more of these overnights.

Thanks for reading about me being a hiking dork. I appreciate it!

-Izzy 5/1/22

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