10-Feb-2008 -- This narrative details a winter expedition to find the confluence at 44N 73W. The effort was a side trip in a larger journey to the western edge of the Green Mountains of Vermont, for 2 days in a yurt shelter, and snowshoeing on parts of the Long Trail.
The trip originated south of Boston, driving north on I-93 to I-89 in Concord NH, then diverting west on rt 107 at Bethel, VT., following the White River north to near its source near Hancock, then continuing west on rt 125, crossing over the Green Mountain range at the Middlebury Gap (670m).
From bare ground in Boston, we experienced a partial snow cover at the New Hampshire border, and increasingly thick cover, until it was nearly a half meter in central Vermont. A snowstorm accompanied us from the time we left the Interstate, until arriving at the start of the hike.
We arrived at Ripton, VT, located Lincoln Road, which took us 4km north along the North Branch Middlebury River to our starting point at Norton Farm Road. The road was not drivable, and was used as a skimobile access route to locations higher in the mountains. Our group of 4 began a snowshoe hike along this well defined trail, occasionally dodging caravans of snowmobilers heading in either direction. The weather was light overcast and mild temperatures (-5C). The forest was mostly mixed deciduous; birches, beech, maples, & oak, with groves of conifers; spruce & balsam fir, becoming more numerous as we went
2 km into the hike, we located a narrow foot trail heading south. We were 1 km north of the confluence, and followed this trail all the way to 44N, before bushwhacking east for the final 400m. There were numerous small stream crossings to negotiate. The meter deep snow made this task easier by forming bridges at some of the brook narrows.
Also, marshlands were frozen and easily traversed. Underbrush in the forest was packed down under the snow, making the hike easier for clumsy snowshoes.
We arrived at the confluence in a hardwood forest bordering a marsh. The surrounding modest sized trees disrupted the GPS signal, forcing us to dance in the woods for a while to get the zeros.
There was also a geocache reported to be placed here, but we did not find this prize after a short search, as it was buried under too much snow.
We took the required pictures, and left under darkening skies. An approaching squall line signaled a cold front passage.
We were caught in a brief snow squall on the return trip. We retraced our path without incident, and arrived back at the trail head in time to see the late afternoon sun emerge beneath the frontal boundary. Later, the temperature would drop to -20C, with NW winds gusting to 60 knots. We were fortunate to have made this hike in