Hazen's Notch/Lake Carmi Bike Overnight
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—there's no time like the present for a bike ride.
At 7 a.m. I step off the commuter bus into dense fog. I don a reflective vest and start pedaling. In Johnson I make sure to photograph the cool bike racks.
After coffee and a delicious breakfast sandwich I start climbing. Socks and sandals, tights, lightweight insulated coat. Colorful. Need to stand out on the road.
Queen Anne's lace and purple asters complement the autumn color. Smiles. Happy to be on this adventure.
The only downside: A 10-mile section that includes logging and delivery trucks. It is Friday morning, after all. At mile 30-plus 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.
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. 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. The road dips and flattens, fortunately, alleviating a brake-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.
A lunch of burger, coleslaw, and lemonade in Enosburg Falls renews my energy for the climb up to Lake Carmi.
I make it by 3 p.m., 50-plus miles. With hours until nightfall and little to do before a long night in the tent, I go for a walk.
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.
It's chilly in the morning and I look forward to hot chocolate or tea. 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 twenty 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 St. 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 St. Albans, I ride alongside a trail committee member for a while. He clues me in on recent improvements: The signs are new in 2014, along with a map highlighting Franklin County bike routes. I grab a map at a trail register and make sure to include my comments.
After coffee and yogurt at a convenience store in St. Albans, I leave the trail behind. Oakland Station Road, Arrowhead Lake Road, and East Road in Milton/Colchester are among the new-to-me pleasant, rolling back roads I explore before arriving home at 2:30.
All in all, the adventure renewed my wanderlust. I enjoyed new roads and new places amid spectacular foliage. I can't think of anything that would've improved my journey. Can't beat that!
Tip for this adventure: Enosburg Falls is a thriving small town, complete with restaurants, a health food store, and friendly people. Total trip: 110 miles.
Favorite local bike shop: Old Spokes Home in Burlington, Vermont.