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  • Writer's pictureInger and Jeff Latreille

Quarries in Hidden Forests

~Sunday, October 24, 2021~

Day 497

The truck is officially clean, waxed and vacuumed and what a beauty. What once was a sea of white hair, is now restored to our truck’s black interior. Thank you Sadie for making this a 10-hour chore. But we still love her nonetheless. I must tell you a carpet cleaning trick that I discovered completely by accident. Maybe your car’s carpet is easy to vacuum. If so, you can read on to the next paragraph. Even though we have an excellent vacuum, the type of rug we have inside the truck traps all of Sadie’s pet hair. The only way to get all the hair up is when it’s a flat surface where I can use the rotator brush effectively. It has to be a tool that grabs the hair. Anyway, my hands were slightly damp and I went to pick something else up on the floor of the truck when I noticed how much dog hair clinged to my hand. So I proceeded to wipe up more of the carpet with my slightly damp hand. It was a miracle how much dog hair came up. And my fingers can reach most of the nooks and crannies that our vacuum can’t get to. I’m sure you could do this with even a rubber glove and maybe get the same results, but I prefer the hand method. Just a helpful tip for you tolerant dog owners.

We’ve decided to repair the tire on Monday since we want to make the most of these beautiful sunny days in Dorset. We’re due for rain the next 3 days. So, a hiking day it was. Never have we had a hiking trail so close to our campground. The road to get to the trailhead is seriously just right across the road from where we’re staying. Gilbert’s Lookout and Owls Head Trail offered quite a few surprises in the way of marble quarries to challenging elevation gains. But no matter what presented itself, we were always in awe of the Fall beauty around us. There were about 10-15 cars parked at the trailhead so it was inevitable that we’d run into a few like-minded people at some point; some with furry friends, others not. From the onset at 1,050 feet, the trail grew increasingly steeper as we went. There were options to take either a “yellow trail” or a “blue trail”, both meeting up again in about a mile of whichever one you chose. We decided on the longer “yellow trail” (longer by ½ mile), but where they merge is when the real steepness began. Most of the trail was well-marked, but occasionally we found ourselves heading in the wrong direction. In fact at one point, we continued up a steep hill only to find it wasn’t the right direction, landing us on the rear of someone’s property. Oh well, at least it was at the expense of some good cardio. So back down we went. Jeff participated in some good trail etiquette by finding a large branch, placing it across the wrong trail to prevent future hikers from making the same mistake. What a guy! When we arrived where the trails mingled,, a long forgotten secret to the past revealed itself. Vermont is well-known for its marble quarrying history, with many slowly being reclaimed by nature in hidden forests. The Gettysburg Quarry is one such place. We didn’t realize how much significance this quarry had during the Civil War period. From 1866 to 1897, this was a bustling operation,

shipping blocks of marble to create thousands of headstones for the soldiers who died in Gettysburg, hence the quarry’s name. They also used much of the marble for buildings and statues in New York. Never have we seen marble quite like this, with its monolithic size. As you walk up to the base of the quarry, a pool of rainwater sits in what appears to be a marble basin. Of course this was all too enticing for our pups. Ooh, that water must have been chilly! During the summer months, humans too, take part in this natural swimming hole. When we exited the quarry, across from that to a westerly view, was an area where 80% of the marble harvested, was dumped. At this site which has remnants of that marble, there was Art’s Bench where we sat and enjoyed the stunning views of Dorset Valley. This marble bench was built in 2016 by members of the Vermont Youth Conservation Corps, dedicated to Arthur “Art” Gilbert, a Dorset resident who tirelessly worked for 30 years to help preserve these lands.

The last .10 miles was quite steep with its zig-zag climb along steep ledges. As the blue signs lead you to Gilbert’s Outlook (you know you’re almost there when you see a marble plaque placed on the side of the hill), you wonder why they created such a trail in the first place. At times, we had to bend over close to the ground for better balance because of the steepness. I must have grabbed onto a few trees along the way, to help me get over the hump. Hiking poles would have been a helpful accessory. All the while, I couldn't help but wonder how we were going to get down. But then there was the distraction of the amazing views at the top, making it all worth it!

Such a blue sky against the orange and yellow Green Mountains. We were so happy that we made the most of this beautiful sunny day. Our enjoyment at 2,474 feet was short-lived as we needed to get down to the bottom before sunset. And there were options. We could either crawl our way back down the same way we came up or take a .5 mile bushwack kind of trail that basically circles 360 degrees around the mountain, back to the beginning of the steep stuff. We bushwacked! And we really had to watch EVERY step since we were basically hiking on the side of a mountain.

On the way down, we saw abandoned cellar holes, which during the quarry’s heyday, were foundations of the migrant worker’s houses. Very interesting. Since it was steep going up, we knew it would be pretty hard on the knees coming down. But this time, we had acorns in the mix which weren’t a big deal going up the mountain, but on the way down may as well have been marbles under your feet. So there was a little slippin’ and slidin’ going on. And they weren’t always obvious as many of them were covered in recently fallen leaves. I know…..doesn’t this sound like so much fun? We actually prefer trails with more challenges, so it’s all good. Maybe it’s the sense of accomplishment at the end, or maybe we’re simply CRAZY!! 🤪It was a good thing we came down the mountain when we did since the sun was setting behind 3,855 foot Equinox Mountain, across the valley. All in all, this was one of our favorite hiking trails of the trip. Even though it was only 4.4 miles, it sure felt triple that because of our efforts.

By the time we got back, we were whipped. I knew because of the forest and dense brush that were our surroundings today, that tick inspection was necessary. None on Jeff and I, but about 20 baby ticks on Sadie. And the small ones are hard to spot. As many of you know, New England has a high tick population. But this time of year? We had stopped Sadie’s tick/flea medicine a month ago thinking the cold would keep them at bay. Boy, were we wrong. What I read about baby ticks though is that most are not strong enough to make their way through all the dog hair to attach to the skin. So luckily most were just on top. After about an hour of inspecting, we got them all. The price we pay for enjoying the great outdoors!

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