In the shadow of the mountain

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In the shadow of the mountain

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Located 20 minutes from campus and less than 15 minutes from Mount Mansfield, hiding at the bottom of a valley against the Brewster River, is a small plot of land containing multiple cabins and campsites stretched out along the river bed. This is the Brewster River Campground.

 
Approaching the campground from the road, there is a small sign and a trail that looks as though another driver forgot to make a turn and drove directly off the edge of the road, down the side of the mountain. While following the steep, bumpy, one-lane trail down to the valley, I passed the owner’s cabin and a few campsites before reaching the camp office.

 
The office is nothing more than a small shed covered in signs and a map of the grounds. The map shows the campground containing 20 campsites and three rentable buildings. The buildings that campers have the ability to rent include a wooden lean-to, a cabin with a loft, and a well-furnished loft apartment above the bathhouse.

 
As I approached the office, the camp manager, Tim, came out from behind the corner to greet me. He was extremely accommodating and even directed me to the site with a flashlight, since it was dark when I arrived. The trails to the site were thin and canopied by trees, making it hard to see through the darkness. I pulled into site nine, where I planned to stay the weekend.

 
It was a small site barely large enough to fit my truck with a tent near the fire bowl. Although the site was forested on either side, the majority of the trees were too thin to produce adequate firewood. Campers are encouraged to buy pre-cut firewood bundles from the camp. The campsite contained an old, wobbly wooden picnic table which was placed just a few feet from a similar table in the adjacent site.

 
My first night at the campgrounds was on a Thursday, which is an abnormal day for camping, so I only saw one other group throughout the night. The campground was almost completely silent all night, so a variety of animal noises and the steady flow of the river could be heard from my site. During the night, I took a short walk over to a large clearing on the river and was able to see the beautiful night sky speckled with thousands of stars.

 
The campsite is located off Route 108 between Mount Mansfield and Cambridge. This setting gives the campground a perfect view of the night sky with very little light pollution, since it is so far away from the closest town.

 
On Friday night, the campground was completely filled, to the point that multiple groups had to park their cars on the one-lane trail that circles the camp. The couple in the site next to mine enjoyed their night quietly around the fire, having dinner and talking softly. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case with other sites. Due to the close proximity of all the sites, one noisy group could be heard by everyone in the sites around them.

 
The other issue that comes along with having such little space between sites is finding somewhere to use the restroom. Often while camping your first instinct is to use the woods, but the lack of distance between sites makes it difficult to go unnoticed. Brewster River Campground accommodates this issue through the use of a large bathhouse. The bathhouse contains two flush toilets, two heated showers, and two sinks for each gender. The restrooms had a worn-in feeling, but were surprisingly clean and well maintained.

 
Outside the bathhouse, the camp is generous enough to have a public dish cleaning sink and drying rack, complete with sponges, soap, and a towel. This luxury made dinner and breakfast clean-up extremely easy.

 
The main draw to this campground was the Brewster River and swimming hole. The river is just a few steps away from a majority of the sites and the only activity available outside of hiking. The steady flow of the river and rocky terrain create a lot of tiny waterfalls and rapids. Upstream, it ranges from ankle deep to waist deep, with many large rocks disturbing its flow. After a few minutes’ walk farther upstream, I came across the swimming hole.

 
The hole is located at the bottom of a naturally-created, 20-foot waterfall surrounded by large rock cliffs and outcroppings. Although the hole is not deep enough to safely dive from the rocks, it is one of the few parts of the river deep and calm enough for swimming. The river was naturally a bit chilly, but it felt great on my feet while I was walking in the sun.

 
I saw the camp manager walking around camp with his dog, Sasha, checking in with campers and making sure everybody was having the best experience possible. He came by the river where I was exploring throughout my Friday morning and told me about the nearby trails, the swimming hole, and directions to Mount Mansfield.

 
Overall, the campground is on a beautiful stretch of land in the valley with an immaculate view of the stars at night. Although the sites are close together, there are plenty of areas within camp to keep you busy exploring if you want to get away from other campers. The facilities and staff are very friendly, which adds to the great experience that comes with spending a weekend of camping.

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