As promised in my last installment of Revisiting the Rainbow for Michigan 2015, I present to you all of the information that I could gather about the Vermont Nationals 2016 site. And, disappointingly, it isn’t much.
This visitation was quite a let-down for me personally, as the Vermont 2016 Gathering was my first Nationals, and where I adopted my dog Beatrice, who was given to me at 4 weeks old. I raised her and socialized her in the woods. She is a Trooper, that’s for sure. So, I had envisioned us walking the same path I walked from where I found out that I’d have a chance at her, to where she crawled into my arms. Besides my personal nostalgia, I also envisioned that I would be able to document the entire Gathering site. I lived there for something like a month (I had been there for at least a week before adopting Beatrice on June 26, and my first verifiable photo in Babylon was on July 13), and learnt every path like the back of my hand, and I wanted to be able to document how the area looks now 3 years afterward, with extensive commentary. But, we were thwarted by Forest Service, and could not even enter. Why? Nothing personal: they’ve barricaded the road into the site.
This barricade comes up immediately after the AT/LT trailhead, which, that day, was highly populated: at least 5 vehicles, and there were people in the lot.
So, let’s make this simple.
I call Bullshit on this barricade.
The sign says that the closure is to “prevent road damage.”
Regular forest road traffic doesn’t create damage. I would admit, maybe, that there was damage done already, and they’re working on restoring it? But, why not tell the truth, USFS? The rest of the country may believe your bullshit sign, but those of us that were there know that you are lying.
I don’t remember the exact details about how the road was that year, but, it’s possible that there was some damage done (but as I write further below, I don’t remember there being road damage: trail damage yes, road damage no). We experienced heavy rains after the Gathering was officially over (a few days after Independence Day).
I stayed for Cleanup after that Gathering and was definitely in the last 100 to leave. By the time I made it to Portland, Maine, the “Maine-bow” gathering that caught the overflow had already disbanded.
It had rained, hard, during Cleanup, for a few days. I remember it well because I was sequestered in a small tent with a 5-6 week old puppy who was still pooping liquid basically uncontrollably, and after a couple of days, there wasn’t really a safe spot left on my blankets.
As my part in Cleanup that year, I took it upon myself to assemble all of the abandoned clothes and blankets in my sector (I’ll estimate about 20-25% of the area of the Gathering?), soaking wet, back to my camp, and hang them out on the trees to dry.
This process of dragging and hanging everyone’s soaking wet stuff took at least 3 days, and I worked 100% solo, as I often do, just because I’m a rogue like that.
After they were dry, which took a few days because, well, soaking wet blankets, duh, I hauled everything out to my car – all with a Baby Beatrice in tow – and that took a few days, too. My car was filled to the roof by the end. I filled at least 3 large industrial trash bags with dried and dirty fabric items.
I laundered and dried everything at the Laundry Mat once I got back to Babylon, and then donated it all to a Catholic charity. I ended up contracting Pneumonia as a result of the work that I did that year. I’ll never forget it.
Anyway, the rains were heavy, and long. There must have been some damage, because wet forest roads are impacted by vehicles in a way that dry ones aren’t. But, I also remember my drive out of the site that year: it was very easy. It sort of felt like flying. I felt jazzed after completing such a monumental task, and the distance of the road itself was remarkably short, compared to other sites I have been to. It did NOT feel like a “bumpy ride” like a lot of driving on FS roads do.
So, what gives, Forest Service?
Perhaps it’s the conspiracy theorist in me, but my sense is that FS doesn’t want us benefitting from our own work. We spent all of that time trailblazing, learning the land, creating the geographical blueprint for a village, and they don’t like that. Remember: unless you’re just a tourist, and only staying long enough to take pictures and then go back to your Box House, their control over the Land is threatened.
Imagine: thousands of people become intimately knowledgable about a very specific forest area with running water that can sustain just as many people. They create and participate in a village that is fully dismantled within 2 months of its inception. All of those people now know of a safe place to retreat to that is free for all people. Just like I know where it is, everyone else that was there knows about it, too, and unless it’s barricaded or sold, we can return to it any time.
Why wouldn’t USFS like that? Hmm, I wonder. Maybe because Sovereignty scares them.
I’ll try not to get too deep into the politics here. Let’s just say that the sign is bullshit. They’re not preventing people from doing “damage to the road.” They’re preventing people from exploring, or using, the area that Rainbow Family prepared as a safe and known waypoint for refugees and migrants.
Not to mention, also, that they are probably at the same time, doing some sort of research. Besides studying the restructuring and regrowth of the natural environment, I’m talking psychic research. Everyone knows that the Feds employ psychic operatives. All they have to do is bring them to the site, and they can pick up on all sorts of stuff. Again, that was my first Nationals, and I’ve only been to 2 so far, but it was a large gathering. Bigger in terms of spatial area than Wisconsin 2019 was. We had 3 Gates that took at least a half hour to hike the distance between (Wisconsin had 2, and they were very close together, a 5-10 minute walk at most), and the walk in Vermont from Main Gate to your first major camp was as long as the walk in Wisconsin from Main Gate all the way to Main Meadow. Vermont was huge. The site could host a refugee caravan of thousands of people, EASY. And, we’re going to need it, soon. Give it another year, or two, tops. The Amazon is already on fire. People are going to be moving North. We are going to need that site. By then the barricade will be gone, though.
The USFS has been following us since our inception. It’s sort of a “cold war” between factions, but there has been violence (on the part of USFS against Rainbow Family, including Children) at at least one Gathering: you can find videos on Youtube. But, for the most part, it’s a nonviolent conflict…yet, the Feds don’t like us much. Methinks it’s a jealousy thing. Stupid, considering, you know… both of our factions are all about protecting and serving our natural environment.
Beatrice and I had a good day, regardless. There was a nice “day use” area with a strikingly beautiful overlook called “Big Branch”, and grills. So, we cooked and ate, there.
We were also able to enjoy an experience at the water, at the very entrance to the Forest: the White Rocks Recreation Area.
I took a video of the walk from the pulloff down to the shore.
As of right now, WP is giving me trouble with uploading the video to my blog, but you can view it on Youtube.
The water at this shore is pristine. We filled a huge jug of it, and still have some now almost a month later.
Here is a snapshot of Google Maps, with the location dot showing exactly where the barricade is.
And closer up
If you take a look at these maps, and one of the trail and road maps available on the Big Brown Sign, you can see that the barricade prevents visitors from doing much of anything except for the AT/LT anymore. Boo!
Beatrice was disappointed that she couldn’t revisit her Adoption Place, too, but, it’s all good. She got some treats from the Mount Tabor Country Store. It was cool being able to go back there. That place was the first and last contact with Babylon at that Gathering. They were very gracious with us, and I’m sure they appreciated the huge amount of business we brought them during those weeks. The store itself has a great vibe: they have a huge free library (multiple shelves on a wall) there, cook hot food to order, and have funny signs up. Some country stores are really stuffy and you’re afraid of getting shot for even sticking around to eat: not in Mount Tabor. Thanks, guys. I did push your limits a bit this time, but you took it in stride. The burger you made for me before we went into the Forest really hit the spot.
Thanks for reading, and coming with us on this journey.