Vermont’s Long Trail is not known for coddling hikers. It’s an elder trail, from an age before switchbacks and knee injuries. At times it seems the trail-makers delighted in charting a deliberately inhospitable course up the mountain.Ladders? Why not. The trail has changed little in a hundred years.
Earlier today we found one spot where common sense seems to have won out. The signpost in the first picture informs hikers that they can go right for Dean’s Cave and the Panorama. Or for those who want the “direct” route, just go straight up this tangle of roots and boulders.
The arrow to the right points into … a cave. See Figure 2. Also observe that the blaze next to the cave is a blue “side trail” blaze only half-heartedly covering the white “main trail” mark. So the “through the narrow cave” route was the main trail until just recently.
Figure 3 depicts Beckett the Border Collie emerging from the other end of the cave.
But the part that turns it all up to eleven is in the last picture. The cave doesn’t actually take you to a trail. The trail continues up on the right side of the picture. But there’s a five foot vertical rock face that you can’t step up with a full pack. As best I can tell, you’re supposed to come out of the cave, step up where Beckett is sitting, step up to where Carolyn is reclining, step over the gap you just crossed under, go behind the tree, and go on your way from there.