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Thursday, August 11, 2022

Lamoille Valley Rail Trail - Deuxième Partie

We have no idea what "Lamoille" means -- it is the name of the river in Vermont, and of the valley it flows through, and of many things in the valley.  A quick survey on the internet reveals that the word itself, while a not-uncommon French family name, does not have any specific meaning in French.  Legend has it that early French settlers named the river La Mouette, meaning "The Seagull," but that a cartographer forgot to cross the t's, which led people to begin calling it La Moulle.  Evidently, the name was further transmogrified to today's "Lamoille."

Be that as it may, the valley is beautiful, running through the Green Mountains, and the river is very pretty as it meanders along the valley.  The Lamoille Valley Rail Trail is one of the prettiest we have biked.  After our last outing, peddling from Morrisville to Johnson and back, we were eager to bicycle along the other end of the longest developed portion of the trail.  This portion runs between Johnson and Cambridge Junction.  We started at Cambridge Junction and headed the 9 or so miles to Johnson:

We had barely started the ride when we arrived at the Cambridge Junction trailhead, where we spotted this covered bridge:

The Cambridge Junction Bridge was built in 1887.  It has a clear span of 135 feet, making it one of the longest spans of its type in the U.S.  The bridge is also known as the "Poland Bridge," after the retired judge who led a lawsuit against the Town of Cambridge that resulted in the bridge's construction.   The bridge was rehabilitated in 2003-2004.

Local communities have improved the trail and, here at Cambridge Junction, we found a re-creation of a train station such as might have stood alongside this rail line --

-- and a playground modeled after a train and railroad improvements:

In several spots along the trail, the Lamoille River presents beautiful bends which -- though not quite oxbows, nevertheless curve well back on themselves:

This is an area with many small towns and villages, and so, the trail is dotted with a variety of businesses, farms and residences.  One old antique barn caught our eye:

We happened upon a beautiful feather, which we thought must be a turkey feather, lying unmolested in the middle of the trail.  Kathy picked it up and added it to her feather collection.

A section of the trail passes alongside a beautiful private pond.  We were lucky enough to pass as some local duck residents were moving to another part of the pond:

At the south end of our ride, we stopped another station replica in Johnson, at The Old Mill Park.  It provided us a water fountain, "other amenities," and a picnic table where we ate our lunches.

As we pedaled from Cambridge Junction to Johnson, we passed some half dozen photo opportunities that David left behind but promised he would revisit on our return.  This pretty little arbor with wildflowers was one of them:

At one point, Vermont's Long Trail intersects and follows the Lamoille Valley Rail Trail.  The Long Trail is attractively signed where it enters and leaves the rail trail.  The Long Trail is a 273-mile long hiking trail running north-south the entire length of Vermont. It is the oldest long-distance trail in the United States, constructed between 1910 and 1930 by the Green Mountain Club.  We had hoped to hike a section or two of the Long Trail as we planned this two week visit, but, for many reasons, we never had a chance.  This is just one of many reasons we want to return to the mountains of Vermont.  We'll see if we can do that in 2023.

If you've read many entries in this blog, you'll know we have a "thing" about berries.  Many of the places we hike, bike and paddle boast wild berries, and Kathy has developed a keen berry radar.  Well, it was operating at peak efficiency on the Lamoille Valley Rail Trail, because, as we pedaled, she spotted a whole raft of blackberry bushes and proceeded to sample them to see what their stage of ripeness might be.  They were juicy and sweet, and she judged them ripe!

But wait!  That is not the end of the berry saga.  A little further on, Kathy spotted a stretch of ripe thimbleberries -- and loyal readers know that thimbleberries are our most favorite berries of all.  Below, David displays some of the sweet, juicy, fragile thimbleberries we gathered in one spot:

Another wonderful feature of the Vermont Green Mountains is the vibrant display of a wide variety of colorful wildflowers -- whether along roadsides, in gardens, along hiking trails, or indeed along bike trails.  We never tire of admiring them, including in this field near Jeffersonville:

Remarkably, although we have traversed many rail trails, we have seen very few memorials to people who died in train accidents on those lines.  Yet, it certainly has happened from time to time.  In the case of the Lamoille Valley Rail Trail, in 2016 sponsors of the trail erected a plaque memorializing the deaths of three railroad workers who, on a pushcar, were hit by an unscheduled freight train near Cambridge Junction:

Cornfields exploded on both sides of the trail for much of the length of our ride, and some of them showed the geometric arrangement of their planting:

Arriving back at Jeffersonville, north of Cambridge Junction, we checked out the rail trail's bridge over the Lamoille River, and were treated to a view of a group of paddlers plying their way from upstream, down to (as we later learned) an ice cream parlor where their shuttle met to return them to the place they began:

For the last two weeks, we have been hoping to sample a Vermont tourist favorite -- maple creamies!  These are maple flavored soft ice cream cones, and they are luscious, as we were reminded when we found this ice cream shop at the end of our ride and finally got our maple creamies!

Our treat was all the sweeter because, no sooner had we stepped up to the window and ordered and received ours, than a group of perhaps 20 or 30 paddlers swarmed off the river and over to the ice cream shop to get in line for their own soft ice cream treats.  Had we been even 10 minutes later arriving, we would have had a very long wait for our creamies.

Timing, dear, is everything.

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