Friday, July 20, 2012

Feels so Good to finally be back on my mountain

View of Snowdon Quad Tower 4
Trail C on our way up to the summit of Snowdon Mountain

Saturday, July 7, 2012

The Killington Beast: His Legend, His Story and His Name

Many years ago, in the time of King Arthur, a great Beast controlled a great Lake Of Llyn-yr-Afanc in the land of Wales. The townspeople dreaded this creature, for stories told how any person who dared swim in this lake succombed to the creatures great strength. The Afanc (pronounced Avank) was a horriifc combination of crocodile and beaver, with large spikes encircling his back. The townspeople made several attempts to destroy this great Beast, but all were in vain.

Then one day, the wise men of the village concocted a scheme which would change the story of the Afanc forever. Like many ugly beasts of his day, the Afanc was captivated by beautiful young women and so the wise men sent the most beautiful woman in town to sit by the shores of Llyn-yr-Afanc. As she softly sang a siren's song, the Afanc was lured out of the water and onto her lap where it promptly fell asleep.

The men of the village were able to fasten around the Afanc chains which they had forged from the strongest steel for just this occassion. Unfortunately for the beautiful young woman, the Afanc awoke just as the final chains were being fastened and he violently thrashed around. In his terror, he managed to rip off one of the young girl's breasts, but she remained strong and did not run.

Although the Beast struggled mightily, the chains held strong. The men hitched the Afanc up to their oxen and were then able to drag the beast from his quiet pool. The strange procession ventured across a steep mountain field and finally up the summit of nearby Snowdon Mountain. From atop its rocky summit, the men released the chains. After a mighty roar, the Afanc quietly slipped into its new home, a lake at the bottom of the great mountain.

Rumor has it that this great beast was unhappy in his new home. For centuries, travelers heard strange noises on the mountain of Snowdon. Instead of being content to capture only those souls foolish enough to get close enough, he continued to haunt the Snowdon Woods, looking for his victims among those who wander too far off the beaten trail.

When a group of Welshman decided to emigrate to America centuries later, they evoked the same tactics to imprison the Afunc and take him with them. They felt that this great Beast could protect them against whatever lay ahead in the new world. To comfort the Beast, they named a mountain after his Welsh haunt and the Afanc resides in the pond at the foot of this mountain to this very day. It is only the roar of Krom's snowguns and the sight of the hoses that keep this monster at bay, reminding him of the chains that ripped from his peaceful life in the Llyn-yr-Afanc...for years, we have been told that it is the SnowSnake that grabs at us while we are skiing, but what we see is actually the tail of the Afanc as he slithers away under the snow back to his new home, the Snowshed Pond at the foot of Snowdon Mountain in Killington, Vermont.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Ricker State Park: Enjoying A Vermont Campground

We have been putting lots of miles on the car lately, so when two very good friends invited us to join them at a Vermont State Park, we jumped at the chance. They had reserved a waterside leanto for a couple of days and we were gonna paddle & fish & drink & cook. And then probably drink some more. Isn't that the goal of car camping?

We drove up to Barre and then out into the Vermont boonies, full of many wonderful things and lacking cell service. Perfect :) Before even heading to the leanto, we unloaded our boats and took a quick spin around Ricker Pond. She's a cute little pond and apparently the beginning of several bodies of water that mark the beginning of the ..... River.

On our first trip to the local geneeral store, we quickly learned that Tropical Storm Irene had been a definitive part of life up here as well. The owner showed us a horrific slide show that he had hanging in one of those digitical frames on the wall. The river had taken over his business - the enormous river boulders that Veermonters have now become accustomed dominated the area surrounding his riverside property. But with hard work and good old determination, he was back open for business - and damn proud of it!

So we set up camp...and guess what?
It rained!!
Totally standard for both June days in Vermont so we were ready. The tarp was up over the table in minutes and and rain gear never came off as we ventured back out onto the water. As I have mentioned before, I admit to having tortured way too many fish as a youth and have sworn off fishing as a way of making amends. So Vespi & I took the canoe and went exploring.

We came upon an end to the water.
In classic Vermont fashion, there were no markers, no buoys, just a section of the pond where the water seemed to just be ending. As we paddled closer, I realized it was manmade damn and quickly steered off to the shore before ending up heading down a five foot waterfall in a kevlar canoe.
This was the exploring we were looking for...

Behind this new damn lay a complete and wonderful wilderness. As the water poured over the damn, it wound around rocks and trees and under a thin, lifting fog. It was like a magic place, where little girls would find fairies and boys would find hidden monsters. I couldn't get enough, dodging around fallen trees and climbing over boulders to try and study this place from every angle.

As we stumbled over the remains of the old damn, we knew we had found something special.

And then we heard noises, muffled voices breaking through the sound of rushing water. Our friends had seen our boat and come venturing in after us. Vespi and I were shaken back into reality as these new humans, armed with fishing poles, entered our domain. But they, too, quickly fell under the spell of this little nook and we stayed, bound by the moment and the place and the magic, until our tummies grumbled too much to ignore and we reluctantly headed back to the leanto.

We quickly settled into our leanto - and except for the city guys banging a hammer against an axe to split wood - settled in to enjoy a wonderful evening by the campfire :)

Oh yeah - Just want to give Vespi a big shout out for doing all the dished this trip!

May You Find the Spirit of the Mountains Within You,
FemaleSkiBum & Vespi