It was early-ish in the season, but we were itching to get Up North.We rented a truck and scurried up to Little River State Park in Waterbury, VT and after rigorous internet scouring, found the Mount Mansfield Toll Road up to the highest peak in Vermont!
It was our first mountain drive!
Random Tulips on drive through Vermont
After driving approximately 25 miles for Dunkin in the morning,(it would seem that Vermont is less enthused about Dunkin than RI -with 40+/- locations in VTand 120 =/- in RI),we double backed towards Stowe.
Coming from Burlington,we opted to take the scenic route (15)
through Jericho and Cambridge to 108,
and wound our way through the narrows of Smuggler’s Notch.
Arriving at the foot of the mountain, with great anticipation,
we followed the signs through a parking lot to a ticket booth staffed by a human.
We paid near $40 to ride this road, but I have no regrets.
We were given a “This Car Climbed Mount Mansfield” sticker
and a CD to listen to on the way up.
“Watch out for bears on your way down.” The Woman told us.
“You’ll often see them on the mountainside in summer.”
I brushed it off, thinking there was no chance in hell
that we would see a wild Vermont black bear.
I was very thrilled about the CD, however, happy to hear some history
and fun facts and eagerly took it out of the sleeve.
I stared at the dash of the very new rental truck
and realized that newer vehicles no longer come with CD players???
Then I felt old.
Waterbury Reservoir on way to Little River State Park
Mansfield In the Back
Obligatory ski lift shot
I was quickly overtaken by the mountain.
The road up was a steep gravel/dirt combo.
It was slightly muddy in spots but nothing too crazy.
We had been told that the summit parking was closed due to mud.
It was wide enough for two cars, but barely,
and there were plenty of hairpin turns to keep you on your toes.
We passed a chapel and several overlooks
but the cloud cover was a bit too dense to see at that elevation.
The views from the 3rd parking lot were staggering.
Mansfield is heavy and quiet, and the air engulfs you.
It’s heavy but crisp, and the rest of the world melts away.
I was enthralled, embraced by the mountain air.
In fact, the header page of this blog is of the views from Mansfield.
I’m not sure what actually awaits at the summit parking, as we only made it to 3,602 ft.
I saw a few Port O Johns but I don’t recall seeing any formal restrooms or anything.
THIS car actually climbed Mount Mansfield – not the one that we put the sticker on
The Black Bear
We made our way back down slowly, making jokes about bears.
While Sam taunted us about who would get how many dollars if they saw one,
I spotted black fur.
Peeling my eyeballs in disbelief, I hollered,
“Bear. A Bear. It’s a Bear!”
We pulled over and sure enough, there was our black bear, pawing around in the leaves,
approximately 75 yards from the road.
Of course, I whipped out the phone to capture the video footage of this treasured
moment, as well as a few photos.
Eric had a previous close encounter with a black bear in New Hampshire,
but this was my first time ever seeing one in the wild.
It was small, and chill, poking around the leaves and paying us very little mind.
Our first Mountain Road was an awesome mountain road,