Cruising Lake Champlain

Cruising Lake Champlain

We did not have an abundance of activities planned for our Vermont trip last fall, so we picked up a handful of brochures in the hotel lobby when we arrived and proceeded to sort through them. I had picked up the Spirit of Ethan Allen Lake Champlain cruise brochure because I am inexplicably drawn to water even though I can’t swim at all. Also, my husband has this thing for boats and trains.

Even so, I was skeptical as to whether I really wanted to do the cruise. But I opened the brochure anyway, and started reading about it. There, right in print, was the name of our town.  It turns out that the boat had been built just down the river from us. At that point, we pretty much had to go on the cruise.

We booked tickets for a lunch cruise, and showed up on a little early. That gave us a chance to explore the Burlington waterfront, which is just beautiful. It isn’t often (at least where I’m from) that you get to look out at a vast expanse of dark blue water and also see mountains in the distance.


The buffet lunch was mediocre, but the scenery was beautiful and the narration was fascinating. We were also lucky in that it was a gorgeous day.



During one part of the narration, we got a mini-geology lesson when we saw some rocky areas that actually had older layers of rock on top of younger ones. This is known as a “thrust fault.” I can’t explain it in a nutshell, but if rock formations are your thing, just click on that link to read all about thrust faults on Wikipedia. I can, however, provide a picture:


The darker stone on the bottom is shale (younger) and the lighter stone on top is something called dolostone (older).

As we approached a large rock jutting out of the water, we were told that it was called “Rock Dunder.” The site is sacred to the Abenaki Native Americans because it is said to be known as the location of Odzihozo (The Creator).

Odzihozo, while laying down, created the Green Mountains by pushing to one side and created the Adirondack Mountains by pushing to the opposite side. Odzihozo now had legs (mountains) but he still could not stand up so he reached out with his arms and his fingers gouged out river channels in the earth. He shaped legs and feet and when he stood up, he left a hole in the earth. Water flowed into this hole, creating Lake Champlain. Abenakis call Lake Champlain Bitawbagok (The Waters Between), framed as it is on both sides by mountains. Odzihozo was so pleased with his creation that he changed himself into a rock (Rock Dunder) so he could admire his handiwork.  And really, who could blame him?


The Spirit of Ethan Allen cruises depart from the Burlington Boathouse, located at 1 College Street, Burlington VT  05401.  Telephone 802-862-8300.  

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