For the past few years, my friend Marty and I have talked about hiking to the summit of Camel's Hump mountain in central Vermont. Well, 18-August-2012 was the day that we finally made the 2-hour drive from Bethlehem, NH and climbed up to the top of "hump"!
Camel's Hump (4,083 ft. elevation) is Vermont's third-highest mountain. Because of its distinctive profile, it's probably the state's most recognized mountain. And actually, Camel's Hump was chosen as a prominent feature for the quarter-dollar coin issued under the U.S. Mint's 50 State Quarters program. A seven-person panel ultimately decided on including Camel's Hump in the design, saying: "It's wild and natural, like the Vermont countryside. It's unique and asymmetrical, like the independent and quirky reputation Vermonters have."
Composite photo of real-life view of Camel's Hump, plus the backside of Vermont quarter-dollar coin
The following text is a brief compilation of some additional information about Camel's Hump. It was gathered from a variety of Internet resources. The first European to see this mountain was probably Samuel de Champlain during his expedition of 1609. The mountain has had several names related to its distinctive shape. De Champlain named the mountain as "Le Lion Couchant", which roughly translates as "The Resting Lion". On a 1798 map, the mountain is referred to as "Camel's Rump". It was around 1830 when the name "Camel's Hump" came into general usage. Although Camel's Hump looks somewhat volcanic from the east and west, it was the movement of glacial ice which created its current form. On the summit, there are about 10 acres of fragile alpine tundra vegetation.
Okay, with that rather lengthy introduction, here are some details about our hike, as well as a few snapshots that were taken along the way.
Regarding our route, we did a loop (approximately 7.5 miles round-trip). We ascended using the Monroe Trail, plus a short segment of the Long Trail. For our descent we used a combination of the Long Trail, the Dean Trail and the Monroe Trail. Our route is highlighted in pink on the map snippet that is shown below. If you look closely, you'll see that some of the pink highlighting protrudes into the Alpine Trail. We did a short side-trip along a small portion of that trail in order to check out the crash site of a World War II bomber (more about this later in the report).
Our route is highlighted in pink
Marty and I have hiked all of the NH 4K peaks, as well as a 4K peak in Maine. By far, Camel's Hump (via the Monroe Trail) was the easiest ascent of any 4K peak that either of us have hiked to date. The trail's footway has relatively few rocks and roots, as compared to many other trails that lead to 4K destinations. And, except for the last 0.3 mile ascent of the summit cone, the incline is overall quite gradual. Shown below is a typical segment of the Monroe Trail.
Typical segment of the Monroe Trail
Once we arrived at the top, it was as "party-time"! This is a very popular destination, and as a result, there were a lot of people! However, the summit area is large enough to accommodate a large crowd, and there are plenty of nooks and crannies where you can find your own personal space. Shown in the next photo is just a small snippet of the folks congregated at the top of Camel's Hump.
A small vignette of the many folks atop Camel's Hump on a lovely day in late summer
Once we found a nice spot to enjoy our personal experience on the summit of Camel's Hump, we then started looking around and were thrilled by the multitude of magnificent views in all directions.
Shown below are a series of photos taken toward the four major directions of the compass. Hopefully, you can get some sense of the vistas by looking at each snapshot along with the caption that appears beneath each of them.
A view looking northward toward Mt. Mansfield
A zoomed view of the Mt. Mansfield area
A view looking southward along the ridgeline traversed by the Long Trail
A view looking westward across Lake Champlain toward New York's Adirondack Mountains
Zoomed view toward Burlington's airport runway. (It must be a magnificent sight to fly into Burlington on a clear day!)
A view looking eastward toward Mt. Hunger in the Worcester Range of mountains
Yet another eastern view, but from a different perspective
Just a random scene (looking downward from Camel's Hump summit)
Another random scene (looking upward toward summit of Camel's Hump)
We could've spent more time on Camel's Hump, but it came time when we knew we needed to begin our descent. As mentioned earlier in this report, we made a short side trip on our way down. We hiked for about 0.2 mile along the Alpine Trail in order to visit the crash site of a B-24 Liberator bomber from the World War II era. The plane went down in 1944 during a training mission. While most of the plane was salvaged and removed, a wing section still remains (photo below).
A wing section from a WW II era Liberator bomber aircraft that crashed in 1944
After visiting the crash site, we backtracked to the Long Trail and proceeded southward toward the Dean Trail. Neither Marty nor I have ever hiked any portion of the Long Trail prior to this. Therefore, we have no idea if the short segment that we hiked is representative of the Long Trail as a whole. Regardless, we can say with certainty that the portion we hiked is nothing remotely similar to the Monroe Trail! This segment of the Long Trail was indeed "long", and it was very arduous with many "ups & downs". In the White Mountains, we call these PUDs (i.e. Pointless Ups & Downs). In addition to the PUDs, there were many steep sections over rock that was slippery, even when dry! Is this perhaps the type of rock that is called schist??
Despite our issues with the return leg of our journey along the Long Trail, it was a still a fun adventure. Plus, the trail has one very redeeming feature! At a point about midway along the route, there is a magnificent head-on view of south-face of Camel's Hump. The next two photos show this remarkable vista.
Head-on view of south-face of Camel's Hump
Zoomed snapshot of the same view as shown above
Just as we were beginning to think it would never happen, we eventually met up with the Dean Trail which would lead us over to the Monroe Trail and then back to the trailhead where we were parked. What a contrast there was between the Dean Trail and the Long Trail! The footpath was smooth, and the trail was relatively flat with only a slight downhill grade. There was even a lovely meadow of wildflowers at one point along the way (next photo).
Meadow of wildflowers along the Dean Trail
A few days after hiking to Camel's Hump, I returned to Vermont in order to hike to Mt. Hunger in the Worcester Range. One of the photos in this report shows a view of the Worcester Range as viewed from the top of Camel's Hump. If you're interested in reading the Blog report that was written about my trek to Mt. Hunger, then please click HERE.