Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Hazen's Notch/Lake Carmi Bike Overnight

Leaving at 5:30 a.m. to catch bus.
Dry, summer-like temperatures and peak foliage in the Green Mountains are a perfect match. With the impetus to visit Hazen's Notch and Lake Carmi - two Vermont regions I'd longed to explore - no time like the present for a bike ride.

At 7 a.m. I stepped off the commuter bus into dense fog.

East Cambridge cemetery. Beautiful solitary trees.
I donned a reflective vest and started pedaling.

In Johnson I made sure to photograph the cool bike racks.

Hard to take a bad photo in the fog!
After coffee and a delicious breakfast sandwich I started climbing.

Socks and sandals, tights, lightweight insulated coat. Colorful. Need to stand out.

Queen Ann's Lace and purple asters complement autumn color.

Smiles. Happy to be on this adventure.

The only downside: ten mile section included logging and delivery trucks. It is Friday morning, after all.

Fog lifted in Eden.

A sublime view of Lake Eden.

There is a cross Vermont route, mostly dirt road, that I'd like to do
someday that takes in this pass.
At mile 30+ I leave Lowell behind and head west on Route 58, a section of Bayley-Hazen military road. 

It's growing warm, but trees shade most of the climb.

Sugar houses have stockpiled wood for spring.
I leap frog a couple of Quebec motor tourists. We wave and smile, acknowledging the lovely day, lovely scenery.

Some sections are steep, others not so. It's doable in my granny gear.

A spring where I fill my water bottles.
The summit is anticlimactic. It's all wooded. I pass the Long Trail (Vermont's border to border, north-south hiking route) and the Catamount Trail ((similar ski route). In fact, my cue is when the road suddenly descends.

Minimal baggage. Tent and jacket are stashed on rear rack.

The road dips and flattens, fortunately, alleviating a squealing, hand hurting descent.

Heading into Montgomery Center, farms and contemporary houses fill the landscape. A mix of the old and the new.

In East Berkshire I enter Missisquoi Valley farmland and ride the rail trail. Burger, coleslaw, and lemonade in Enosburgh Falls renews my energy for the climb up to Lake Carmi.

I make it by 3 p.m., 50+ miles.

Lake Carmi, a large lake in northern Vermont, known for small mouth bass
and a black spruce bog
With hours until nightfall and little to do before a long night in the tent, I go for a walk.

Sunrise on the shoreline at my campsite.
Twice, after sunset, I shoo a determined raccoon from my picnic table. The crafty animal had partially unzipped my handlebar bag, looking for treats. I drag all my panniers and cook stuff inside the tent. I can't afford to lose what little food I have to get me to the next town.

Franklin County farmland. Dairy farms are vast with thousand of acres planted in corn.
It's chilly and I look forward to hot chocolate or tea at breakfast time. I scramble inside the tent, but don't come up with the bag where I stowed matches and drinks. I recall where the raccoon had retreated the evening before and find the bag 20 feet into the woods. There are teeth marks in the hot chocolate packet and brown sugar, but, thankfully, everything else is intact.

At 8 a.m. I am back on the rail trail, heading towards Sheldon and eventually Saint Albans. I have an evening dinner to get home for, which shouldn't be difficult with the early start.

There are new signs on the trail, since my husband and I were last out this way. Close to Saint Albans, I ride alongside a committee member for a while. He clues me in on recent improvements: signs are new in 2014 and a map which highlights Franklin County bike routes. I grabbed a map at a trail register and made sure to include my comments.

River crossing in Sheldon. The wooden surface was chewed up by snowmobiles.

High Bridge on Arrowhead Lake. 20 miles from home.
After coffee and yogurt at a convenience store in Saint Albans, I leave the trail behind. Oakland Station road, Arrowhead Lake Road, and East Road in Milton/Colchester were among the new-to-me pleasant, rolling back roads I explored before arriving home at 2:30.

All in all, the adventure renewed my wanderlust. I enjoyed new roads, new places, during spectacular foliage. I can't think of anything that would've improved my journey. Can't beat that!

Total trip - 110 miles. Map of route.


  1. What a gorgeous part of the world! And best enjoyed on a bicycle, of course. :)

  2. Simply brilliant! You apparently took advantage of a "can't miss this opportunity". One must wonder why everyone wasn't out there with you doing the exact same thing. Nice job, you were obviously well rewarded for your efforts.

  3. What a great-looking place to cycle. Your words and pictures captured it very well.

  4. Oh so beautiful! I love how vivid the fall colors are.

  5. I'm a lucky girl to have grown up in such a beautiful place and to have returned to raise a family. Though sometimes my heart is still in Oregon, Vermont's fall foliage can't be beat. September and October are by far my favorite months.


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