This weekend Andre and I decided to try out the Monroe trail on the Duxbury/Moretown side of Camel’s Hump. We had talked about doing it last weekend, so we already had a little bit of a plan in place. I had a bit of a late night Saturday, and with Daylight Savings Time now in effect, we were in for a late start today.
By the time we got up to the trailhead, it was already 2:30 in the afternoon. We pulled into the lower “Winter Parking” area. This was the end of the road. The summer lot at the base of the Monroe trail, another half a mile up the road, doesn’t get plowed out in the winter. From here we had to make our way up to the lower route. Obviously we could skin up the road, but from the upper parking area it looked like there may also be an XC trail that links up with the Monroe trail.
We head up the XC trail, (marked Ridley Crossing XC trail), and stayed on that for trail about a half hour before we started having doubts where it was headed. After a little over an hour, it was clear this trail wasn’t going to meet up with the Monroe, and we were going the wrong way. The Ridley XC trail came to an end, and met a snowmobile trail, which from Andre’s phone seemed to be VAST 100A. We continuing down the VAST trail for a half hour or so, without losing too much elevation. There were some older tracks here, from maybe a day or two before, but we didn’t see any skiers or snowmobilers. Looking at the map, it seemed we could head down the VAST trail and eventually get down to the Monroe parking area, so we head in that direction. After a while, I checked the map again. I was pretty sure up ahead, the woods would be thin, and we would be close enough to the Monroe trail, that we could cut through the woods to intersect it and save some time and elevation. Sure enough, we saw some other tracks into the woods further up, from people who must have had the same thought.
After almost a half hour, we finally arrived at the Monroe trail, and slowly made our way up Camel’s Hump. The wind became very strong as we passed the intersection with the Dean trail, but luckily it was a warm day, at about 30 degrees. With the extra couple miles added on at the start, we were getting a little tired, but we soon reached the cliffs. From here the Monroe trail continued to the left, gradually climbing the way along a well worn path ascending the cliffs. Looking at a topo map, I could see we had another option. Rather than climb the cliffs, we could traverse to the right, beneath the cliffs. This would give us a longer descent, should eventually rejoin the Monroe trail, and from my phone I could see if we cut over far enough, there was a trail someone had marked as “Backcountry Ski Trail.” This sounded convincing enough, and we made our way off in that direction.
As we cut through the woods, there wasn’t much indication that we were on a trail. This part of the mountain was extremely windblown, and even our tracks wouldn’t last long. There were noticeable indentations in the snow where tracks once were though, and despite the windblown surface, we could tell that we were mostly going the right way, as the snow was pretty packed underfoot. When we would venture too far off, you could definitely sink into the snow. It must have been several feet deep here. After a while, we decided we’ve traversed far enough across the fall line, and found a decent area to transition.
The beginning of the descent was slow, had a couple flat-outs, which was a little discouraging, but we quickly came up on a gentle cliff that got us started on our real decent. As we made our way down, we did our best to stick to the right. From the shape of the topography we could tell if we went too far to the left, we’d end up somewhere in Waterbury, and that wasn’t the plan. Checking in frequently with the GPS as we head down, we head in the direction of the Monroe trail. After not too long, we intersected with what was clearly the “Backcountry Ski Trail,” and took that the rest of the way down. It was very open compared to the surrounding area, some thinning of vegetation had definitely been done along the trail. The snow itself was was pretty untouched, and it was a great trip down, albeit very tiring on a snowboard, the entire trail kept me on my toe-side and the calves were a bit sore at the end. Eventually the ski trail we were on reconnected with the Monroe trail, which we rode out to the unplowed road below. Continuing skiing down the road,we eventually made our way back to the Winter parking area where we started. This time approaching from the Monroe parking area above.
Definitely a fun trip that will need to be repeated.
Total distance: 6.03