In Killington Area, A Commute Through The Woods

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(Host) With so many roads out in the state, many commuters have had to get creative to get to work. As VPR’s Nina Keck reports hundreds of people in and around Killington have taken to the woods.

(Keck) The half-mile trail between Helvi Hill road and Journey’s End in Mendon is usually quiet. But since parts of Route 4 were washed away last week, this wide, woodsy trail is now one of the only ways for people to get in and out of Killington, Pittsfield and parts of Mendon. People like Miche Chamberlain.

(Chamberlain) "Yeah, I’ve been up on Killington for three days, so I headed out early. I have a ride waiting for me on the other side. And they’re going to loan me their car for the day and then a friend will let me stay at their place tonight and I’ll hike back tomorrow afternoon."

(Keck) Three more commuters walk down the trail all with mud boots and to-go-cups of coffee. They step aside to let an ATV pass.

(Keck) Local volunteers and emergency vehicles drive back and forth giving rides and help to anyone in need. A few minutes later, another group, heading the other way comes out the woods.

(Keck) "Are you guys commuting backwards? (Bowen) "Yes, we work in Pittsfield, trying to get the roads back in shape."

(Keck) Joe Bowen lives in White Hall New York. He’s used the trail three times already.

(Bowen) "A lot of people, whether they work in Killington or other surrounding areas, they hike back and forth. The first day you saw a lot of people with suitcases heading through here. You have to have someone pick you up on one end and you’ve got to park on the other end. You just have to coordinate it."

(Keck) While Bowen and his friends head northeast to Pittsfield, commuters heading toward Rutland and places west come out of the woods near a dead end road. Cars are lined up as far as you can see.

Jeff Chabot stands in front of his house directing traffic. Despite all the noise and activity, Chabot says most neighbors have been very understanding. And many are pitching in to help.

(Chabot) "We’ve been trying to keep one or two people here all day long. Just trying to make sure people know where they’re going and have a ride, trying to help out where we can."

(Keck) Todd Maynard and his friend Dave Bucklin, walk out of the woods, wave to Chabot and head to Bucklin’s car.

(Maynard) "It’s crazy it’s like a big rotary. People are just in and out. They’re parking their cars. Everyone’s got their backpacks and their flashlights and off they go to the woods."

(Bucklin) "I called it a refugee camp. I’m staying up here with him because he can’t get his car off the mountain. As we’re walking at night people are still chipper, but it’s like we’re all kind of in a daze. You know? So tonight, he’s on his own, I want to go home. I need a shave."

(Keck) With repairs to Route 4 ongoing, Todd Maynard and hundreds of others will likely have to continue this backwoods commute for some time.

For VPR News, I’m Nina Keck in Mendon.

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