NECE 4, Day 1- Driving up to Little River State Park, in Waterbury Vermont… and camping in -18 degree weather!

The campsite and surrounding gorgeousity

Even from the earliest of the planning for this trip, I knew that I was in for some serriously gorgeous views – but even still, I wanted to speak with my friend from YDS, Emma, who is a native of Waterbury VT.  She and I figured out how to shift my initial itinerary to reflect the full breadth of opportunities for my time in the state, and we came up with the following general map:

Google Maps was the copilot on planning where to stay and where to go - everything is close except for the observatory!

Google Maps was the copilot on planning where to stay and where to go – everything is close except for the observatory!

Not hard to understand how I ended up spending a lot of time in and around Waterbury, but as it was the location of the Green Mountain Club headquarters (see the post following this one), I wanted to be there anyways – and everything Emma told me was fuel onto the fire of my excitement.  After a long afternoon of driving once again to the northern wastes, after sitting through a morning class, I found myself 1) entirely off road and 2) facing a well-kept sign:

A nice sign, in slightly better shape than the Class 4 (unplowed, unmaintained) road in

A nice sign, in slightly better shape than the Class 4 (unplowed, unmaintained) road in

This seemed a good start, as Little River State Park was indeed my intended destination.  The road went from poorly kept and filled with potholes to more of a “pothole farm which happened to let some vehicles get by it, if they’re lucky” – so it was tough, to balance driving safely but also trying to enjoy the fantasy of my one day owning such lovely little homes in hte middle of no where, without any noise (noise, noise):

One of many many many homes in the wilds which struck me as "that could be me one day, if I am lucky!"

One of many many many homes in the wilds which struck me as “that could be me one day, if I am lucky!”

Initially, the GPS was a bit unclear, when I came to a fork in the  road – one way was a reasonable easy path downhill, and the other was a very steep hill, a sheet of ice with a sign explaining it was a logging road.  Not being in a true offroading vehicle, I decided to take the low road, and came upon the dam built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s – itself worth checking out, as it was a handsome little building:

The Civilian Conservation Corps dam built in the 1930s, which created the reservoir and thus the aforementioned Little River

The Civilian Conservation Corps dam built in the 1930s, which created the reservoir and thus the aforementioned Little River

I did try to drive up the hill, initially without the tire chains.  I made it halfway up and then began to slide sideways… and while I was thankfully able to control my spin to point the vehicle downhill again, I realized it wasn’t worth the possibility of landing the MFALCON in an icy ditch, to save some walking.  So, I loaded the gear up on my back and began the 2.5 or so mile hike up to the campsite:

The little logging road, which in the negative temperatures, was completely icy and not safe to try and drive up... so I hoofed the 2.5 miles in to the campsite from there!

The little logging road, which in the negative temperatures, was completely icy and not safe to try and drive up… so I hoofed the 2.5 miles in to the campsite from there!

Since I don’t have the offroading vehicle of my dreams… yet… I was content with that and got the tent set up as the sun began to set, and then wandered back down to the car – no need to carry the camp stove or other food prep gear so far, when I could just cook dinner next to the car!  Ramen is quite delectable when one is VERY cold:

Rather than hauling the campstove and food 2.5 miles uphill, I decided to make the car area my cookery

Rather than hauling the campstove and food 2.5 miles uphill, I decided to make the car area my cookery

… specifically, it was plummeting down to -18 degrees F outside, and that is an unpleasant level of cold to encounter.  One cool (heh) detail of this park is left over from its Civilian Conservation Corps days – namely, the remaining stone chimneys from where their barracks used to be located.  A wonderful place to build a fire when it is THAT cold and windy, as 3 sides of it protected from the wind as my slowly-freezing hands worked more slowly trying to get the fire going:

As the temperatures plummeted to -18, the  remaining stone chimney from a Civilian Conservation Corps barracks house provided me my very own fireplace

As the temperatures plummeted to -18, the remaining stone chimney from a Civilian Conservation Corps barracks house provided me my very own fireplace

In the week or so leading up to my trip to Vermont, I had purchased a Pentax K30 camera (see the previous post here to read more about this)… but in classes and in my free time over the past week, I have spent a LOT of time reading up on amateur astrophotography, as it is fascinating to consider taking photos of deep space objects using a regular DSLR camera with a good tripod, some cleverness about image stacking in processing, and the like.  I had a tripod with me, and a cloudy night, and only an 18-55mm lens (not enough zoom) that night, so my first series of shots to try and do this wasn’t the greatest:

One of a small handful of my initial attempts at astrophotography... this is bad both because it was nearly 30 degrees colder than the camera's minimum operating temp, and it is a 55mm lens (not enough zoom).  Still, one has to start somewhere

One of a small handful of my initial attempts at astrophotography… this is bad both because it was nearly 30 degrees colder than the camera’s minimum operating temp, and it is a 55mm lens (not enough zoom). Still, one has to start somewhere

But nevertheless, it was *astonishing* how many stars one could see, even with cloud (and tears freezing into my eyes)!  I really fell in love with the place, even in the frigid cold – it was not a pleasant hike back to the tent from the fire place, to be honest.

But I reached it and settled in for a VERY cold night, indeed.

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One response to “NECE 4, Day 1- Driving up to Little River State Park, in Waterbury Vermont… and camping in -18 degree weather!

  1. Pingback: Winter prep and maintenance for the car | A Jaunt Around the World - Cleveland, OH

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