Off road in Vermont

Wheeling in Vermont

While pre running the course for the last day of the 2011 Great Race, I looked up and saw two Jeep Wranglers in a yard close to the road. I then noticed the blonde woman standing beside one. I then saw the Opal Justice stickers and I knew it had to be my Facebook friend Sue. I had never met Sue, but we banter on Facebook almost daily.

I stopped in the road and quickly backed up and rolled down the window. She knew we would be in the area and we were hoping to meet up after the rally. Neither of us had any idea that the route would take me past her home.

She met us at Hemmings in Bennington after the event. She and her husband invited us to go run a trail with them.

The next morning, we set out to meet her. We got a bit confused with Dorset and East Dorset but managed to make it to our rendezvous point just a few minutes late. Keith couldn’t make it, but Sue led us up a very interesting trail.

I was surprised when we turned off the paved road that there was a sign that said ”TRAIL.” We climbed up what looked like an old rail road grade. The trail was rocky and slightly washed but Janice’s stock XJ made it fine even loaded with three people and our luggage.

At the top of the hill, Sue led us to the coolest place I have ever been in a Jeep. We got to drive inside a cave. We parked with our headlights illuminating a deep pool of green water. The cave was formed by marble quarrying.

We spent some time hiking in the cave and exploring the cuts in the rocks. Sue told us of some of the many parties she had had in this cave over the years including her wedding celebration.

Sue took a more adventurous path out of the cave. She then led us to an overlook where we could see the entire valley. Next, we followed her up a challenging climb so that we could look down a shaft to the area where we had just been inside the cave.

After touring the top, we went back down and picked up her friend Lisa. Her Jeep was in need of repairs so she tagged along with Sue. We then took a trip across the ridge line toward the next town. This trail was very narrow and I was concerned I might get a scratch or two but I made it just fine. Only one rock scraped the cross member, but only gently.

At the end of the trail, we popped out in a working marble quarry. There were huge chucks of marble waiting to be transported down the mountain. The mine entrance was gated but we waked down to see the huge steel door that seals the entrance to the mountain. This is possibly the largest marble tunnel in the world.

We were somewhat concerned that the lower gate might be closed since no one was working at the quarry site and that we might have to re run the trail to get out. However, the gate was open and we were able to get started on our way back to Tennessee.

The short wheeling run was a great way to meet some friends and to end our long trek north. I have always wanted to drive a Jeep into a cave and now I have. Thanks Sue.