8/20/2021 – Schroon Lake, NY to Middlebury, VT

46.28 Miles / 3691.62 Total Miles

2260 Ft. Elevation Gain / 118,943 Ft. Total Elevation Gain

Today was one of my favorite days of the trip. I rode alone, after an awesome day off in Schroon Lake. Started out with a wonderful “continental breakfast,” courtesy of Tammy, the owner of the Blue Ridge Motel. She makes fresh scones every night, for her guests, and puts out the best spread I’ve seen on the trail. On a personal level, Tammy really helped me out–letting me.borrow a hair dryer to dry my wet clothes; picking up an item I really needed from the store; advising me on the route; assisting me on some personal matters; making sure I had a real bowl to cook my dinner in, in the microwave oven–basically, being a friend to a complete stranger. I have a feeling she is a friend to lots of strangers, who pop into her motel. I gave her a big hug, before leaving. I also had to say goodbye to Maggie and Mark, who made yesterday’s adventures possible. They too are awesome people. All of you–remember how nice it is in Arizona during your cold winters. My guest room awaits, and you are welcome to come visit any time.

Yesterday, I scoped out the route Tammy recommended, on the way to Fort Ticonderoga. Then I received a text message from Ed, regarding the route he and Chris took, which was the more hilly route, with less traffic. I decided to go for the hilly route. My legs are pretty strong, these days, and traffic is my enemy. In the end, I actually enjoyed the route. It had a few good hills, but overall, it was easier than most of the hilly days we’ve had lately, and the lack of cars was really nice.

The route went north, then east, then south–to the only bridge for miles that crosses Lake Champlain and the Hudson River that flows out of it, because all the ferries that normally take cars across are closed, for some reason. Once again, I think Covid is being used as an excuse to stop offering ferry service. You can blame a lot of things on Covid, but closing all the ferries across a river, and forcing people to drive dozens of miles out of their way to cross a major river?

The first town I came to was Moriah, which is along the river, a few miles north of the bridge. It’s a nice little town, with lots of historic buildings, several murals, a great ice cream shop (I imbibed), and even a log of all the Champ sightings. Champ is a Lock Ness Monster-like creature that was first sighted by Samuel de Champlain, back in 1602, but then not seen again, till 1924. The most recent sighting was in 1990, so maybe Champ has died of old age. Wait–do monsters die, or do they live forever?

Leaving town, I followed the scenic byway below, as I rode south along Lake Champlain for 4-6 miles, before riding east onto Crown Point, the peninsula leading to the Lake Champlain. Bridge.

View of the bridge, from just north of Moriah
One last look back at the Adirondacks

Just before Lake Champlain lies Crown Point Historic Site, which consists of two forts, a lighthouse, and a few other small buildings.   Prior to the Revolutionary War, between 1734 and 1737, the French built Fort St. Frederic, where Lake Champlain narrows to just 1/4 mile at the Crown Point peninsula.  The narrowed waterway enabled control of the transportation of people and supplies between Quebec and the British Colonies, but the fort was also conveniently located so the French could run raids on British settlements in New York and New England.  The British didn’t like that too much, so they mounted various expeditions to take control of Crown Point, and in 1759 they finally succeeded.  Before the French retreated from the fort, they burned it down, and rather than rebuild, the British immediately began building a new, bigger fort, further up the hill–“His Majesty’s Fort of Crown Point.”  In 1775, the day after taking Fort Ticonderoga, American forces captured the new fort from the British and moved the cannons and heavy ordnance to Boston, where it was needed to defend against attacks there. 

The footings of Fort St. Frederic–the smaller French fort.
His Majesty’s Fort at Crown Point–the larger fort built further up the hill.
Another angle on His Majesty’s Fort
View of Lake Champlain and the Crown Point Bridge, from Crown Point.

The Crown Point Light House.

Lake Champlain and the Hudson River separate New York from Vermont, so when I crossed the Lake Champlain Bridge, I passed over into Vermont, and no kidding, the terrain changed instantly from forested Adirondack hills to farm land on less steep hills.  The buildings changed from often poorly maintained houses, barns, churches and commercial buildings, to nicely maintained everything. 

Another delightful changed in Vermont was that the majority of the houses, barns and buildings sporting flags were sporting US flags, instead of Trump flags.  Nice!  This is the country I know and love!

A few tractors flew US flags.

Remember the mud pull at the street fair a few states back? This farm had a semi rig and trailer to haul its tractor pulling getup to competitions.

As I entered Middlebury, I passed through Middlebury College, a liberal arts university, founded in 1800, and the first operating college in Vermont. It was flush with historic stone buildings.  

My bike was needing a little love, so I stopped in at the local bike shop, downtown, which happened to be owned by a guy who went to college in Arizona.  I asked to have my derailleurs adjusted, but came back to find the mechanics messing with my shifters, which I wasn’t too happy about.  There is some serious climbing, up ahead, and I wasn’t happy with the major irreversible changes they made to how my gears shift.  Grrrrrr–as if I wouldn’t notice?  

I met up with Ed and Chris at the Marriot Courtyard–the only available hotel room in town.   They had saved a nice spot for me–on the floor, just inside the door of our room–to park my bike and to lay out my tent footprint, Thermarest and sleeping bag.  I know it sounds spartan, but it is a really comfortable sleeping setup.  I settled in for a good night of rest.

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