Inspired by Marilyn Ruseckas
Long Trail along the Monroe Skyline by Marilyn Ruseckas
Frog Hollow’s February exhibit “Interpreting the Trail” features Frog Hollow artisan creations inspired by the legendary Vermont Long Trail. The following is Marilyn Ruseckas’ adventurous narrative on how she gathered the materials needed to create her pastel drawing contribution to the show. It should be noted that in addition to being a talented Pastel artist Marilyn is also a world champion, record holding female mountain biker ranked first in the world for her age group…
Long Trail along the Monroe Skyline
Where we live, it’s a daily view. Looking to the West, we see where the Long Trail runs along the Monroe Skyline from south of Warren to north of Waitsfield. To get inspired for an authentic drawing featuring the Long Trail, my husband, Adam had the idea to hike from the Lincoln Gap north to the Appalachian Gap. It was one of the coldest days this January, so cold that neither one of our vehicles would start. We were ready and determined to go, so we persevered, but by the time we got them running, it was too late to spot a car at the other end. We left with snowshoes, poles, food, water, extra clothes, and other necessities. We included headlamps for the final section, since it was likely to be past sundown by then.
It was 11:45 am when we left the car on the Lincoln Gap where the road closes for the winter. It’s a long way just to get to the trailhead and from there it’s about 12 miles across the mountains. We steadily hiked up the snow-covered road, passing skiers and kids on sleds coming down. At the top, we embarked on a perfect snowshoe-packed trail towards Mt. Abraham. The weather on the summit was wild and the wind chill was nearly unbearable, so we put on more clothes, took a couple pictures, had a snack, and traveled on. We found the next white blaze and found the trail unbroken to Lincoln Peak. In addition to the long winter views, the snow covered trees and pristine trail ahead was my favorite scene.
Between the steep climb up to Mt. Abe and breaking trail in the deep snow, it was starting to get late and we were anxious to cover some ground. The trail from Lincoln Peak to Castlerock was well packed. We figured if we went as fast as we could, we might be able to stick to the original plan and go the whole way. Ahead there would be several opportunities to hike down a ski trail, if necessary. Running when we could and not stopping very much, we passed Mt. Ellen and continued on to Stark Mountain where the single chair at Mad River Glen had already closed for the day. We ran on and made it to the top of the double chair just before dark. This was the last chance to bail out before the descent to the Ap Gap, but the trail was well packed and our lights were bright, so we kept going.
We were so glad we did. It was the most unusual and adventurous part of the trip. The trail is so steep in places that there are ladders installed in the rock for climbing and descending some cliff sections. We had to negotiate this by residual evening light and our headlamps. Adam was ahead and I could watch his line as he slid on the backs of his snowshoes down the trail. He enjoyed looking back to see my light as I came along as well. At 6:00 pm we arrived at the road and stuck out our thumbs. In two rides, we were brought home and dropped off at our door by a friend. That evening was spent with plenty of rest and reflection of the day spent on the Long Trail.