Some background, Dog Mountain is the former home of Stephen Huneck, an artist that did woodblock prints and sculptures with dog themes. His black Labrador retriever, Sally, featured prominently in his work. He bought land in St Johnsbury Vermont, built studios and a home. He built a dog chapel and designated the land as an off leash dog park. Dog Mountain is pretty darn awesome.
We took the dogs for a long walk around the mountain and found hundreds of blackberry bushes with beautiful, plump, ripe berries. What is a locavore to do? Pick berries into any available container and make blackberry financiers!
Blackberry Financiers (they’re rich!)
7 tablespoon unsalted butter
1¾ cup sliced blanched almonds
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup powdered sugar
5 tablespoon flour
⅛ teaspoon salt
4 large egg whites
½ teaspoon almond extract
6 ounce blackberries (or raspberries or blueberries
1. Position the oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven
to 400 degrees. Butter a 12 cup muffin tin. (I use mini muffins instead.)
In a skillet, heat the butter until it begins to sizzle. Continue to cook over low heat until the edges begin to darken and the butter gives off a nutty aroma. Remove from the heat.
In a food processor, grind the almonds with the granulated and
powdered sugars, the flour and salt. While the processor is running, gradually pour in the egg whites and add the almond extract. Stop the machine, and add the warm butter, pulsing as you pour until the batter is just mixed.
4. Divide the batter evenly among the buttered muffin cups and poke 3
or 4 berries into each cake. Bake for 18 minutes, (14 minutes for mini muffins) until puffy and deep
golden brown. Let stand a few minutes then remove them from the
pan and cool on a rack.
(Note the tiny person shown for scale.)
Effort: Maximum. We hiked for an hour and 20 minutes to get to the falls, then had an hour hike back to the car. It was an OK hike, but the trail was full of cantelope-sized smooth stones, (mountain bikers call them baby heads) making hiking a challenge on the feet and ankles.
Reward: The guidebook I referenced mentioned that we should visit these falls in Spring or early Summer when the water level is high. When we were there, there was a steady trickle of water falling down the rocks. The pools were 1 to 3 inches deep – barely enough for wading, let alone a much-needed swim after a hike in the heat. I think I would also like the hike in the winter to see the falls crusted in ice.
Fun: This hike would have been a lot more fun in the spring when there was more water in the falls. That being said, it was a nice hike.
Pidi and Daisy’s Evaluation: We love hiking. We love to run around in the woods with our jingle bells. One problem – there wasn’t a lot of water to drink along the trail, so we had to keep asking mom for a drink.
This is the other waterfalls named “Moss Glen” in Vermont. The other one was better.
Effort: Below minimal. You pull off the side of the road in the Green Mountain National Forest, walk 100 feet on a board walk, and voila! Waterfalls. If you want, you don’t even have to stop – you can just rubberneck while driving past.
Reward: Again, Meh. It’s a very sterile Waterfall experience. More like being presented a painting of a waterfall, rather than actually experiencing the waterfall itself.
Fun: Nope, sorry. There were boardwalks.
Pidi and Daisy’s Evaluation: We got dinner! At a waterfall! This place was awesome because we got dinner. Was there a waterfall too?
Bartlett Falls were a swimmer’s dream. The huge swimming hole is sand-bottomed and half the size of an olympic swimming pool. The water was very clear and the river current made swimming just a little challenging.
Effort: Almost none. The falls are about 20 paces from the road. Maybe on a busier day, you’d have trouble finding parking, making the falls 40 paces from where you have to park.
Reward: The falls are lovely. The real draw here, is that Bartlett falls are only one of two waterfalls in Vermont that allow you to go behind the falling water. In the grotto behind the falls, the sound was deep and rumbling, like a semi truck driving across a bridge overhead. My outreached hand was pushed down by the power of the falling water. I could yell at the top of my lungs and barely hear myself over the noise. The noise and the water were purifying somehow, as if the water was carrying away my stress, worries and tension.
Fun: Best swimming I’ve got to do in Vermont. Hands down. Just lovely.
Pidi and Daisy’s Review: We didn’t get to see Bartlett Falls. Mom left us in the car because there was no way for us to get down to the water. Plus the falls are right along a busy road, so we would have to be on our leashes anyway. She swam, got really happy, and we took a nap in the car.
Of all of the falls we saw, the Falls of Lana were the most beautiful, the most relaxing, and the falls that I am most looking forward to returning to visit again. Here’s the rundown:
Effort: Reasonable. There is a nice walk up to the falls and the paths are very well cared for. The path down to the viewpoint for the main body of the falls was difficult, even for the dogs at some points. It’s mostly an A shaped hike, but the path down to the viewing point is downhill.
Reward: Even though there were 15 cars in the parking lot, I wasn’t bothered by the other people at the falls, unlike the day before in Stowe. Who cares about the people? The falls are so absolutely, wonderfully beautiful that the reward is far outweighed by the remote possibility of being bothered by other people.
Fun: The upper part of the falls has many places where you can find pools of water for swimming. The water is cool and refreshing, with a bit of rusty tint. We had a very nice lunch watching fly fishermen and listening to the water cascading over the rocks.
Pidi and Daisy’s Evaluation: Super fun! There were lots of places to run around and nice dogs to play with. We liked running through the water. We didn’t mind too much when mom asked us to laze about for a bit while she had lunch.
Effort: Minimal. This is a super-touristy area where people took their elderly relatives to see something lovely. There are a few wet rocks, but you don’t have to climb on them to see the best part of the falls. It’s a V shaped hike.
Reward: So-so. The falls were beautiful, but the number of places to view them were minimal. We spent more time looking for a pretty place to see the falls, then actually looking at the falls themselves.
Fun: Absolutely none allowed. The water was tightly roped off and swimming was restricted.Bingham Falls is just past the entrance to the Stowe Ski Resort and very popular. There were probably 20 cars in the parking lot. With the number of tourists, it was uncomfortably tight.
Pidi and Daisy’s Evaluation: Booooor-ing. We were on the leash half the time! The other half of the time, mom kept calling us out of the roped-off areas. We were thirsty because there was nowhere we could get to the water and have a sip.
Effort: There was basically no hike to get to the falls, so the effort was minimal. However, the neighbors were making every attempt to limit access to parking around the falls. We got a parking spot, but I think that was because we were there after dinner.
Reward: The falls are lovely. The water was clear, but ultimately kind of boring. I think this was because the water levels in northern Vermont were very low, so the water was not rushing around.
Fun: TOP NOTCH! This isn’t so much a “natural area” as a local hangout. We were there with 20 or more high school/college students who were sunning and drinking cold beers and talking and watching the sun set. The pools are deep enough for legit swimming. There is plenty of places to spread out a towel and dry off in the sunshine.
Pidi and Daisy’s Evaluation: Everybody loved us and petted us and gave us treats. We totally loved this place.
As a sidebar, going to Bolton Potholes made me consider the value of these natural places. Waterfalls are unique, remarkable and should be available to the public. The land around the Bolton Potholes has been bought by private individuals, who put up signs to limit parking on the street, and roped off access pathways to the falls. They made it pretty clear that they did not want people to visit the falls.
While I am offended by the self-interest of allowing private ownership of natural areas like these, I am also concerned that the community did little to nothing to help support the community access to the natural area. The community’s response in the 2000s was to put up guard rails along the roadway to block parking on the shoulder of the road. The answer is not to close off access to the Bolton Potholes, but instead for the community to support building a parking lot and public access paths.
There are two waterfalls in Vermont named “Moss Glen.” This is the one in Stowe. It’s better than the one in Granville.
Effort: Minimal. There is one steep embankment to go to the top of the falls, but numerous ways to enjoy the falls without climbing up. The hike is pretty flat, but overall, you have to climb up to see the falls-A shaped.
Reward: Meh. The falls were lovely, but there were a lot of other people there. Finding parking was difficult. Plus, it’s the touristy area of Stowe, VT and we were there on a weekend. Maybe it is nicer on a weekday with fewer tourists. Note that I didn’t count us as tourists because we’re from neighboring New Hampshire. We have a bistate agreement between Vermont and New Hampshire not to call each other “Tourists.” Since the water levels were low, many pools had standing water resulting in pesky mosquitos.
Fun: Meh. The pools were never deep enough for an adult to swim, and with the volume of foot traffic, there were muddy spots on the trails and few places to sit and enjoy the falls in peace.
Pidi and Daisy’s Evaluation: There were a TON of other dogs, but they were all on leashes, so we seemed to be naughty dogs running loose. We just tried to have some fun, but their owners wouldn’t let them play with us. There were also lots of small kids that didn’t like dogs either.
I rate waterfalls based on three different factors: 1) the effort needed to get to the falls, 2) the reward once you get to the falls, and 3) the fun you can have at the falls. All three factors contribute to the memorability of the falls. For some falls, I expended a lot of effort, and got a huge reward and had a lot of fun. I call that a win. Other falls didn’t take any effort at all, but were also not rewarding nor fun. I still call that a win.
There are also two paths to get to a falls, you either climb up to them (an “A” shaped hike) or you climb down to them (A “V” shaped hike). I’ll use this system to evaluate each of the falls in turn.
Effort: A moderate “V” shaped hike into a ravine. The ravine was deep enough that it was almost wholly in the shade, even at 11am when we arrived.
Reward: OK. The falls were lovely and there weren’t too many people around.
Fun: Good! There was plenty of rock scrambling, shallow wading, and flat rocks to sit upon.
Pidi and Daisy’s Assessment: Lots of fun smells and shallow water. People were nice and kids weren’t afraid of us. The rocks weren’t too slippery. Daisy went runnoft and had an adventure.