Branch Pond to Bourn Pond (VT)


Branch Pond parking area to Bourn Pond in Arlington, Vermont.

The Plan

Trip length: 7.59 miles
Departure time: 9:45 am
Return time: 2:55 pm

This hike was intended to be the first of a couple intended to be "dry runs" for our extended hike in August. We carried out much larger (65L) Osprey packs loaded with almost everything we will have for our 5 night-6 day hike; the only thing we didn't bring was food. Base weight -- weight of everything a hiker carries minus food, water and fuel -- was 17 pounds for me and 24 for Michael. 

One calculation I've seen for total weight suggests 2 pounds for water (just under one liter) + 2 pounds of food for each day of the trip. We had about 2.5 liters of water. We'll likely cut that down for our actual hike since we'll be filtering as we need water but it gave us a good idea of the weight we would have with consumables on board.

According to Gossamer Gear:

-A lightweight backpacker (LW) carries a base weight under 20 pounds.
-An ultralight backpacker (UL) carries a base weight under 10 pounds.
-A superultralight backpacker (SUL) carries a base weight under 5 pounds.

For comparison purposes, if we use 10 pounds as the weight of consumables for a 5-day backpacking trip, then the total weights are 30, 20, and 15 pounds respectively. Those numbers assume your base weight is at the top of the category, which is probably isn’t.

Conventional backpackers simply go by total pack weight, which is typically 35 pounds or more.

Given these guidelines, we have some gear editing to do. We're planning a shakedown of pack contents this week.

The Hike

This trail is popular at both ends; Branch Pond offers a number of camping spots and a good-sized parking area by the boat launch. Bourn Pond is a popular destination on the back side of Stratton Mountain that also has camping and gets a good amount of traffic.

The temperature dropped by nearly 15 degrees between Williamstown and Arlington on our journey north. Our initial disappointment was quickly replaced by gratitude as the day warmed up and the tree cover offered respite from the heat of the full sun.

The tree cover also helped to maintain muddy conditions created by a few rainstorms the previous week. We picked our way through and around those sections considering the experience to be more preparation for our multi-day hike. The trail is easy with little elevation change and no technical parts of the trail. Many creeks offered nice views and breaks from the forest.

Bourn Pond offers beautiful views and we enjoyed the tranquility as we had lunch. Had we included food in our packs we certainly we have made the last-minute decision to camp overnight. I imagine we'll be back to the site in a week or two to do just that.

We stopped at the privy on the way out. It was quite simple: a wood box about 3 feet high, 2.5 feet deep and 4 feet wide with a toilet seat on top. Michael told me he pictured birds and chipmunks dancing and singing around people who availed themselves of this resource.

Overall Impressions

We also test drove our Delorme InReach Explorer, which I'll review separately. It adds some weight to our load (about 7 ounces) but provides much peace of mind. Our packs worked well with the full load. We need to fine tune some adjustments and review what we are carrying.