Monday, August 31, 2015

Vermont's Killer Rocks

Instead of traveling west or down to Florida for vacation, we decided to head north to New England this year. Smugglers' Notch is in the Green Mountains, and derives its name from activities precipitated by a request of President Thomas Jefferson to prevent American involvement in the Napoleonic Wars. The Embargo Act of 1807 forbade American trade with Great Britain and Canada.
But proximity to Montreal made it a convenient trading partner, and the Act caused great hardship for Vermonters, many of whom continued the illegal trade with Canada, carrying goods and herding livestock through the Notch. Fugitive slaves also used the Notch as an escape route to Canada.
The road rises from our resort through granite cliffs to cross the Notch and descend on to Stowe. A large flashing sign announces that semis and buses are prohibited through the Notch, followed by another sign that the road is narrowing. A third sign warns that we are in an active rock fall zone, and may be attacked by falling rocks at any time!

The route was improved to accommodate automobile traffic in 1922 providing a route for liquor to be brought in from Canada during the Prohibition years. But apparently no one considered moving the rocks from the projected path of the road, so you have to watch carefully to keep from running into huge boulders in your path. I've heard that mountains make their own weather, and it seemed true in the Notch. Dark clouds looked like a storm was ready to strike, while the wind blew dust devils from the dirt parking areas.
We intended to go to Bingham Falls and headed up a stone stairway from the top of the Notch. A hiker heading down advised that there weren't any falls in that direction, just an 880 foot climb! So we headed back down the mountain to get the directions from our condo, and found we hadn't driven nearly far enough on the other side to find the falls. Another trip through the Notch took us to the pull-off for a short hike to Bingham Falls. The challenge was getting safely down to the bottom of the cliffs to view the beautiful falls and crystal clear pools at the bottom. But Dick took a short slide down the rocks as we headed back to the car. Thus - killer rocks.
Vermont is famous for its beautiful fall leaves and skiing in the winter. Sorry to all those ski buffs, but I think it's silly to slide down a mountain in the cold on purpose. We are enjoying the fall wildflowers and will go canoeing sometime while we are here. The hard part is deciding whether to join the resort's activities or go out on our own!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hard to believe we've only been here 32 hours