Hero Islands, on the summer solstice

6/21/22

Well, it’s the longest day of the year in the northern hemisphere. I notice that sunset here on North Hero Island is 8:42, which is significantly earlier than Portland’s 9:02. I hadn’t realized there were parts of the US where the solstice sunset was before 9:00. Still, it’s the longest day of the year.

The day wasn’t as sunny as I would have liked, and in fact I got sprinkled on a few times, but thankfully nothing more than a bit of drizzle. And the 35-mile journey from Burlington to North Hero Island, via the Colchester Causeway Trail, was as beautiful as everyone had told me it would be.

This is a rail-trail, and a long segment of it goes out into the lake, with water on both sides of the trail.

When they took out the train tracks to turn it into a bike and pedestrian trail, they also took out the short bridge in one section of it, in order to allow easier passage of boats. This means that the trail is impassable unless you take the Local Motion bike ferry. The ferry—which only covers about a 50-yard distance—runs on weekends during the cooler season of the year, but this week (perfect timing for me!) it resumed daily service.

I spoke to the gregarious ferry-dock volunteer, Dave (hi, Dave!) who loved hearing about my journey, as did the ferry operators once I boarded. Dave collected my $5 donation fare while sharing some tips on how to proceed up South Hero after the ferry.

The farmland there was beautiful. I stopped to eat my packed lunch at a winery along the way that designated itself as a bikeway rest stop, and met two women visiting the area from Seattle! They had grown up in Vermont and Massachusetts, respectively, and had flown back to visit their earlier homes, and rented bikes to do some touring together while they were here. (Hi, Becky and Alison!)

Before too much longer, I arrived at my motel on North Hero. After all my wonderful human connections with my hosts over the past few months, I admit I’m relishing the quiet downtime and privacy in the room tonight. (Amazingly, I think the last time I needed to get a hotel was in Savannah, back in early April. Which is a good thing, because this place cost me a pretty penny! But it was worth it to be able to take this particular route.)

I expect I will sleep soundly tonight. Tomorrow, it will be another 39 miles in the saddle, including crossing the border into Canada, before arriving at the home of my Warmshowers host in the town of Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu.

Happy solstice to all!

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