Has it really come to this?

Not to be too churlish about this, but have we fallen so far as a people that a half-mile walk through the woods calls for a New York Times article and a nation-wide round of self-applause?

Hurricane Irene left an astonishing mess on Vermont and elsewhere, and I would never minimize that. One community there has had paved access to the rest of the world cut off, so they have taken to using an unpaved path into town, largely by foot. They drive or shuttle to one end, walk the half mile through the forest, then catch school buses or whatever on the other end.

The New York Times wrote about it here.

Hurricane Irene had washed away large stretches of the road down from Killington, Route 4. Huge craters left Route 100 impassable.

But on Wednesday, Aug. 31, at 7:55 a.m., three days after the storm closed down much of the state, the four school buses pulled up right on time, and off hopped 18 children from the dark side of the mountain (their electricity was still out).

“They were so proud,” Ms. Prescott said.

They had reason to be. Their families had discovered a half-mile-long forest path that they could walk, from Route 4 across the mountain to their school bus. At first, the woods were still and unsettling. “My hands shaked a little bit,” said Jillian Bradley, a second grader.