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August 5, 2005
I conquered Harmon Hill—well, I mean, I conquered the really steep incline part.
I would do it again under the same circumstances.
I am unscarred proof that an educated beginner can hike the Appalachian Trail at Harmon Hill in a few hours with minimal problems. Practically, this is not a trail for just any beginner, especially children, elderly, the overweight, or those with joint or breathing problems. If you have the desire, comfortable walking shoes, water, and basic woods and hiking knowledge, you should be able to hike Harmon Hill, too.
When I parked in the parking lot, I had no real idea what I was getting myself into. The words and numbers on the sign at the trailhead meant very little to me. From my high-school cross-country running days, I knew that I could still walk 3.6 miles round-trip, but elevation measurements meant nothing to this Midwestern flatlands girl.
Crossing Route 9 and entering the dense woods, I started up a fairly average dirt trail marked by white paint blazes about every 10 seconds. A few seconds in, I was walking up a never-ending stream of irregular, white stones, which formed a narrow, jumbled staircase. I spent a lot of time wondering how either nature or humans could create such a stream of exposed stones in these otherwise dense, green woods, covered in rich soil. What I also didn't know was that I was pretty much right about the never-ending part. The stone steps go all the way to the top, with even steeper sections waiting ahead.
When the trail finally leveled out, the stones ended, the trees thinned out, and the dirt trail resumed. I thought I was at the summit of Harmon Hill, but I saw no sign or hint of a clearing with a view. At least 30 minutes later, I was still walking on endless, flat land. I checked the time on my cell and decided that I needed to turn back so that I wouldn’t have to deal with depleting sunlight.
I couldn't believe I took 2 hours to walk about 3 miles. Days later, I learned that an old neighbor of mine had just completed hiking the entire Appalachian Trail, which he started in Georgia. In his journal, he commented that Harmon Hill was one of the longest, steepest sections he had hiked. So, I suppose if you can conquer Harmon Hill, then you'll have no problem with other parts of the Appalachian Trail!
From journal Daytripping in Vermont's Green Mountain National Forest
by MtTabor Inn,Vt.
mount tabor, Vermont
September 29, 2002
From journal Fall Foliage in Southern Vermont