Monday, July 2, 2012

DORSET WEST PEAK - VT 35'er (The "Vermont Slide" Hike)

I hiked Dorset Peak a while back, but recently noticed that nearby Dorset West Peak is above 3500ft and on the VT 3500 list. I noticed a scar on the mountain and was very intrigued by this as there is very little for views on these mountains. I decided to investigate the small slide on this hike since it was a bushwack near the top anyways. I headed up Tower Rd in Dorset Hollow as far as I felt like it with my Jeep. I parked in a small clearing and headed out at about 12:15.
I could have gone a bit farther with my Jeep but after that there was a spot where there was a HUGE washout from Irene, the trail up farther was totally impassable and has a foot path above it.
 Just above the washout I came to the hunters cabin. 
I trodded up the steep snowmobile trail to where my GPS showed the bottom of the slide nearby. I bushwacked and found the bottom fairly quickly. The bottom had more soil and less rocks.
As I ascended the short but fun slide it got rockier with more loose shale stone and mini ledges.

The views opened up and I got some great views to the south/southeast. 

I could even make out Stratton and Equinox Mtns.

I made it to the top after taking many photos and enjoying the best view of the day. At the top of the slide was a wall of impenetrable small balsam trees, but I noticed a cut limb on the ground. I wasn't the first one going up this slide! There was a tiny passage cut through the balsam just enough to squeeze through. I immediately came upon a fairly fresh pile of bear scat. 
The next part of the climb was very steep and ledgy, but wasn't too long to reach the ridge.Once on the ridge the forest opened up and it was a pleasant walk through the balsam.
It started sprinkling as I came upon a pile of  fresh moose scat on the walk across the fairly flat ridge towards the summit.
I got to a clearing that appeared to be the summit marked with a rock and a tiny clearing. I was curious so I searched around and 50 feet away to the west was a flagged tree, and under a pile of brush was a bear-chewed nalgene bottle with a rotten register in it, I hung it on a branch but didn't bother trying to sign in.
There was a partial view to the North from near the summit.
I headed back towards the snowmobile trail in the hollow, but found myself drifting southeast towards the top of the slide. I followed what my GPS showed could be an old survey cut on the Bennington/Rutland County line, but there were no blazes. I caught a glimpse of Dorset Mtn through the trees.
The descent back down to the slide was easier on the way down but still super steep and mossy. I broke out onto the slide and enjoyed some sunny views as a sun-shower began, but it was just a nice cool-down. I stopped for a snack and a drink and to enjoy the view. The black flies and biting flies were swarming and crawling on me but fortunately I didn't get bit up.
I enjoyed the descent and at the bottom I decided to follow the small drainage back down to the snowmobile trail. When I got back to the trail I noticed there were cairns at the point where the drainage crosses the trail. 
I made it back to the car fairly quickly at about 3:30 enjoying the babbling stream alongside the trail on the descent.
I stopped to take some pictures on the way out of Dorset Hollow, and spotted the slide on Dorset West.

Before heading home I stopped at the Dorset Quarry for a swim as the sun had come back out and it was warm. 

A nice day in Vermont and my first Vermont slide climb, I would definitely consider going back up just to hang out on the slide again.

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