Submitted on behalf of the Taylor Hikng Group
“We’re back! And don’t think those black flies and huge boulders will deter us.”
Is this what occurs when you face obstacles while hiking?
You start trash talking to the mountain. You use whatever motivational tools you need to keep climbing and, in this case, we succeeded. We summited the challenging Camel’s Hump Mountain in Vermont this summer after failing to do so 16 years ago.
Yes, we are utilizing a new hiking template but the result proves that it works for us. It is a complex, choreographed series of shimmering, lifting, pushing, bug spraying, coaxing, and encouraging as the members rise to the 4.083’ peak together. The pace is somewhat slower than our rain soaked, failed attempt in 2003 but the reward for our current tortoise like approach is a group photograph at the summit. What a view! The Champlain Valley and New York’s Adirondack Mountains, Mount Mansfield, and Mount Washington were all visible on this gorgeous day. When our over used joints cry out on the descent, we discuss politics and the physical pain quickly dissipates.
We could have been sipping tea at the Von Trapp Lodge like many other senior groups do in Stowe, Vermont. Maybe some of our fellow hikers also wondered why we chose this difficult event. We did pat ourselves on the back later in the weekend with a meal at the lodge but on this day, the 7.4 mile return attempt of Camel’s Hump was at the top of our agenda. An added bonus that was not on the docket, we sighted a lumbering black bear as we drove to the trail head.
This year was the 30th anniversary for the Taylor group, a predominantly Bedford group of women hikers. Jane Taylor, a mother at home with her young children, gathered some friends together for an outdoor weekend adventure in 1990. She remembered her mother, Carol Phillips, doing something similar when Jane was a young girl. To commemorate the special anniversary, members Mary Criscione, Connie Matheson, and Lisa Baylis compiled 30 years of photos, stories, badges, and events.
We laughed and reminisced. The photographs do not lie. Numerous changes have occurred in the three decades that we have been hiking together. Comfortable clothing is now described as athleisure wear. Hiking poles telescope into the size of a ruler. Short shorts are not allowed in our closets. Hair styles and colors have evolved and boots look more like running shoes. What has not changed is that a dozen friends are having fun, finding new ways to enjoy the mountains of New England.
The weekend began with a stop at Vermont’s Little Grand Canyon, the spectacular Quechee Gorge. It is Vermont’s deepest gorge at 165’ deep. After a relaxing walk down to the cascading water and some creative changing of garments, the members enjoyed a dip in the fast moving river.
After the Camel’s Hump hike, the threat of thunderstorms resulted in the postponement of the scheduled ascent of Mt. Mansfield until 2020. Instead, some hiked Stowe Pinnacle, a 2,651’ outcropping affording a scenic view of the town below. Others biked on the LaMoille Valley Rail Trail in nearby Morrisville, VT.
Friendship and hiking were the initial bonding elements but the eclectic interests of the group are demonstrated in many various weekend activities. A tour of a chocolate shop, famer’s market visit, Von Trapp Lodge walking tour, and an elaborate book club review complete with historical candy samples from all across the United States.
Bedford residents Denise Barnett, Dotty Blake, Debbie Caban, Birgit DeWeerd, and Judy Morgan also hiked this year. In addition, Winchester’s Barb Attardo, Concord’s Barb Chase, and Natick’s Jane Teepe participated in the 2019 expedition.
Next summer a fourth major excursion is planned: an August trip to Montana’s Glacier National Park. The Taylor Group has previously journeyed to the Alps in Austria and Italy while last summer the trekking women hiked the Canadian Rockies in Banff National Park. Always in search of added adventures, a few members will remain an extra week to explore Yellowstone and the Grand Teton National Parks.
In the meantime, between trips, there will be book club gatherings and numerous conditioning hikes. There are many milestones to celebrate, photos of grandchildren to view, and many, many stories to share while sipping tea, hiking, biking and simply being friends.