I moved to southeastern Vermont in mid-September, and by the time I was settled in, the leaves had fallen from the trees and winter was on its way. That's not to say that I didn't get outside, on trips to the raptor center, attending a classic Vermont apple pie festival, cross-country skiing a few times, and walking the dirt roads near my office on my lunch breaks, but I never really explored the region. Now that summer is here, I'm excited to see more of my new corner of this beautiful state.
A few weekends ago, I went with Joe to Jamaica State Park, about twenty minutes northwest from my apartment on Route 30. The road parallels the West River, which eventually meanders through the park and was once an important route for the Abenaki people who lived in this area. We walked along the West River Trail, trying not to step on the red efts crossing from the river to the woods and helping them safely across. The leaves had been fully out for about a week, so the pollen that had been irritating my senses was finally dissipating. The woods smelled new and fresh, from last year's decaying leaf litter to the new needles on the hemlock trees. I searched the forest for familiar plants, wondering if the leaves sprouting from the forest floor were those of the pink lady slipper and flipping over the branches of hemlock trees hoping to not find the wooly adelgid living there. I felt a comfortable elation at wandering through a northeastern forest during the vibrancy of spring.
After walking beside the river for about two miles, we veered right on the Hamilton Falls trail. It was an uphill trail for about a mile until we reached the falls, which drop 125 feet down beautiful slopes of rock. At the bottom of the falls, water has eroded the stone into soft and welcoming curves. The crystal clear water collected in pools, lapping affectionately against the rock.
We sat at the base of the falls and basked in the sunlight, resting from the climb and enjoying the soothing sound of rushing water. It was hard to pull ourselves away when we headed back down the trail to the West River. Instead of taking the soft, flat trail (formerly a rail bed) the whole way, we took the Overlook Trail to the peak of Little Ball Mountain, which gave us a beautiful view, proving that Vermont is truly the Green Mountain State. The trees in their new plumage showed a variety of greens mottled against a cloudy sky, and again, our legs found comfort resting against the sun-warmed rock as we sat and absorbed the view before taking the trail back to the park entrance.