The road was dusty and long. Logging trucks barreled down the shale riddled road, charging around corners. As they rumbled by, they caused me to drive off into the overgrown shoulder, all the while, I was hoping that the road did not drop off, out of sight, into the river below.
I was in Vermont, deep in the woods. Having driven past dairy farms, and then onto dirt roads, they threatened to shake my car apart to the last nut and bolt. I had followed another blog’s directions, but it just didn’t seem right. I was definitely deep within an active logging operation, tens of miles away from the nearest paved road.
Having turned around, I eventually found a state route that was paved. I drove past the mountains surveying them from the ground, hoping to catch a glimpse at the abandoned radar site I had read about. This gem of the Cold War seemed to good to be true, and I was waiting for something to prevent me from accessing it.
Finding my bearings, and reading the descriptions again, I realized I had not gone far enough down that rough logging road. Turning my CR-V around, I was determined to find the Lyndonville Air Force Station, atop East Mountain in Vermont.
A sign at the entrance of Radar Road noted, that past that point was conservation area, and to be aware of the logging trucks. They asked that you drive cautiously, give way to the larger trucks, and abide any posted signs.
After driving for what seemed like miles further past where I had turned around originally, I found a secured gate. A dirt road continued past this metal barricade. So I slung my pack over my shoulders, and plod ahead on my journey, to the top of East Mountain.
The road was wide enough to fit two large dump trucks side by side, and was well maintained. It continued through the forest as it ascended to the mountain. Halfway to the radar base, buildings appeared atop a hill on both sides of the road, with a concentration on the right.
These buildings were the living quarters, the gym, commissary, vehicle maintenance shop, and many more. Today, they sit quietly, nature taking them over, gripping them in vines and trees growing through their structures.
Back on the road a culvert seemed to have washed out, and its hulking mass jutted from beneath the surface of the road. After scaling this obstacle, the mountain was steep from here. Although the road was paved, its sharp gradient made the hike arduous–especially racing against rain and thunder storms looming in the distance. This made me think of soldiers riding up in jeeps years ago, and how the ride down must have been a nail-biting roller coaster ride.
After an hour, I reached the top, and was amazed at what I found.
It was like a post apocalyptic seen from some sci-fi movie. The wind was intense. Loose metal siding flapped in the intense gusts. I could see far when the clouds were pushed out for a few seconds, catching fleeting glimpses of wooded mountain tops far away.
Tall buildings, reaching toward the sky, loomed overhead. They were hollow. The wind forced itself through the structures, whistling as it found its way through cracks. A hulking structure of steel I-beams had no siding, the slabs of corrugated metal scattered across the ground. It had the looks of a skeleton in the desert, its bones bleached by the stark sun.
I walked through this landscape like I was a character on the Walking Dead. I was the last man on earth. Aside from nature, there wasn’t a sound.
The buildings were open. Panels pulled off–where adventurers prior to me had gained access to the interior– begged for entrance. Hollow vacant spaces, sixty feet up, my voice echoed throughout.
I explored buildings set amongst the trees, and found an old antenna. Drooping. Bent in half, it swayed amongst the fierce gusts of wind.
After a while, I began my descent down. Running at times to beat the rain. Eventually, the sky opened up, and I took shelter in the old mechanics shop as the storm passed. After the twelve-mile round trip, I made my way down the shale road. I felt the shimmy of a flat tire, and drove ahead, knowing I could not stop on a logging road to change a flat for fear of my own life. I rode that rim for a quarter-mile.
Tire changed, I made my way to Barre for the night. Exhausted, I had no trouble sleeping, and was ready for another adventure the next day.