Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Faulty Expectations

August 15, 2021  Sunday                                        Most Recent Posts:
Camping on the Battenkill              A Morning With Bullhead Pond’s Green Herons
Arlington, Vermont                             More Unexpected Fun in Eastern New York

IMG_20210815_103901795_HDRThis area of Vermont has a lot of Farmers’ Markets.  There’s one every day Thursday through Sunday in one of the towns nearby.

I’d decided to do a hike known as Mad Tom Falls which is outside of Dorset and had great descriptions so I thought I’d go early enough to catch the Dorset Farmers’ Market.  That was the only thing that turned out as expected about this day.

I’m not sure I’ve found such really wonderful and vibrant small towns anywhere outside of New England.  The down town areas for the most part are not boarded up stores and “shopping centers” or malls are some distance away near larger cities.


This farmer’s market was actually mostly farmers with fruits and vegetables for sale rather than crafts or food though there was some of that.


And a lot of the food was organic.  In other areas very few of the marketers are organic it seems to me.  Perhaps you’ve found it to be different.


Hemp sales.  Love it!   If it weren’t for the winters, I would definitely consider New England as a place to live.  But I hear there is snow season, a mud season and black fly season before you get to the best few months.


Even the setting for the market was terrific.


From there I headed to Mad Tom.

IMG_20210815_113815472_HDRIn researching Mad Tom I found that not only the falls, but the trail, the brook and a notch were named after him.  At the trailhead of what is actually the East Dorset trail which follows Mad Tom Brook to a junction with the AT/Long Trail, I learned that no one else knows who Tom was either.  Though the information board did say that the mad part is clear “the brook has a spontaneous nature and can transform from a peaceful brook to a roaring river with minimal rainfall”.    With all the rain here this summer I’m hoping it’s in a peaceful phase today.   The history of the area was described and interesting to read along with a timeline beginning in 1880.  Probably not so interesting unless you are there.

The trail started out rocky but clear enough. When it got to the Forest Service boundary not far along, things changed.


Shortly the brook was on the right of the trail.  Unfortunately for this post, I did not bring my good Canon camera and so all the photos are taken with my terrible Motorola phone camera.  Really a shame since the brook was beautiful and the pictures do not do it justice.  It didn’t look today like it could ever be “mad”.


The trail is fairly steep but the brook is lovely and my frequent stops to enjoy it  make the hike easy. 


and then,  the trail just ends.  There is no clear way to go anywhere forward at this point or to cross the brook as the information board had instructed and even if I could manage it, there is no trail visible  on the other side


Luckily I had taken pictures of the information on the board knowing I would need it in doing this post.  The board says “at 1.82 miles the trail crosses the brook over a constructed ford”.  No such thing is visible though I am at that mile.

I spend a lot of time wandering around and up and down and climbing the rocks and looking for this ford or the trail or something.

Another couple show up and they too are surprised that there is no where to go.  He is very tall and his long legs enable him to do what neither she nor I can and that is cross the brook on rocks too far apart for shorter legs.   Once on the other side, he confirms that there is no where to go and comes back.


We all gave up and headed back down the trail the way we had come.  At the trailhead I met two folks just starting out for a walk with their dog. They turned out to be from the area. and said that the brook had done its roaring to such an extent several years ago that it had flooded and washed out everything including the ford.  The forest service had never  put the trail back and thus it had disappeared.  Clearly the Forest Service had also not had the consideration to mention this fact on its information board or on any of the information I could find on line.

The hike was beautiful and I’m not sorry I came but I wish I’d had appropriate expectations for it.  I was thinking “AT here I come”.

One last thing about Mad Tom.  How about this Paul?



I still had a lot of the afternoon left and wanted a longer hike so I drove on to Emerald Lake to hike the Vista Trail.  What would you expect on this trail?  Vistas right?  I’m thinking vista means wide ranging view.

I park in the parking lot where this map and the trail head are located.  The 2.5 mile trail seems just the right length to get me to nearly 6 miles for the day.  It goes up above the lake in a loop. I had done the other lakeside trails on a previous visit.

The stars on the trail map are the “vistas”.  There are three. 

The trail starts over a cute bridge, enters the woods and crosses the railroad tracks.


I hike through a narrow path where I hope there are no ticks or chiggers and up steeply into the woods.


Climbing up I can see what I assume is the lake in the distance  A little further on I can see the beach and folks in the water.  I guess these are the first two stars, the first two vistas.   You have to be really looking for them and they are semi obstructed by the forest of trees.


Further on through the woods I find an actual Vista sign so perhaps those first two weren’t the starred vistas after all.  I’m looking for a trail to this vista and walk over behind the sign  to see since clearly it’s not visible from the sign.  There is no trail going over or a bench to enjoy the assumed view.  That’s not water in the vista sign picture it’s the sunlight blinding the forest floor.


This is the best picture of the “vista” I could get.  Even a better camera would not have made it any different.


Later on, I caught this view between the trees. It wasn’t labeled Vista.  I guess I’d already seen the only sign but it wasn’t near any of those stars on the map.  Somehow I had thought I’d be up higher than the surrounding area and looking down on Vermont’s hills.  If I were in charge, I’d rename this hike “Obstructed Vista Trail” and put up more than one sign and a bench or two.


But, like Mad Tom, they have big fungi here too.


All in all, I had a wonderful time, it was an interesting day and a very pleasant way to get some exercise.  But for the most part, not what I was expecting.  Have you ever had a day when things turned out to be very different from your expectations?


  1. Certainly not what was expected but pretty nonetheless. Better to just enjoy and leave the expectations behind. Then there's no disappointments. Those sure are huge shrooms. And the market looked very nice.

    1. I wasn't even aware of the expectations until I got to the hikes and found them different than billed.

  2. Wish I had known when you were in Dorset. Jeanne knows lots of great trails around there. She is a trail runner. I love the Dorset market! And the only tick I have had embedded in the years since I quit field work was at Jeanne's property.

    1. Too bad for me. I would love to have had advice from a local. I got out with no ticks luckily.

  3. Those are some contenders for the Guinness Book of World Record mushrooms! Biggest I've ever seen. Wow! Enough to feed a small army if they're edible.

    1. But that's the real question isn't it? Edible? Or not??

  4. Beautiful brook. Glad there are enough people to support the farmers markets.

    1. Every little town seemed to have one and they were largely small time growers. Very nice.

  5. Love farmer's markets, especially fresh veggies! Sorry there wasn't more information on Mad Tom, wonder if there even was anybody, haha.

    1. I don't think there was a Mad Tom but I do wish I'd been able to find out how it got its name.

  6. Big fungi!

    There are some good farmers markets here.

    1. Yes indeed, big fungi. Glad you have markets in your area.

  7. LOL, my days almost always turn out to be different than my expectations! And as far as living in New England, you are absolutely right. It will seduce you in the summer and early fall, but those long, long winters are brutal. I loved in Boston for 10 years and spent a lot of time in Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine. It's a great place to visit. :-)

    1. I've usually done enough research to know what I'm getting into. But this time the info wasn't out there. But had I known the trail died before the AT I might not have gone and it was a lovely hike and beautiful water. Oh my TEN years in Boston. You must have loved your job.

  8. Interesting day! Very nice farmers market and pretty hikes, but there was definitely some false advertising there. I normally expect what I'm told to expect and if it's different from that there is some disappoinment there. Although we lived right outside a city, I liked Connecticut. However, I've never experienced so cold a winter before or since.

  9. The creek really is so pretty, glad you didn't miss it although you couldn't keep going. Those mushrooms are hugerer than I've ever seen - by a lot! Interesting that one plans to watch for chiggers and then has to watch for trains :-))) My youngest is planning to move to Vermont so we'll see about those other seasons!

  10. Those trails look pretty overgrown. The river and rocks are pretty. Big mushrooms or fungi? Thinking about trying to cross the river reminded me of a time I was crossing the river at Sugar Hollow and tried to jump to a rock and ended up hitting it on my shin. Ouch! I am not comfortable walking across rocks.. The Farmers Market looked great! xxxooo


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