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One of the nice things about living where we do, up on a mountain, is that getting outdoors to play in the snow is not a project. It does not involve packing up the car, lugging your stuff across a parking lot, packing lunch and doing it all in reverse at the end of the day. Here, it involves putting on your snowshoes or cross country ski boots and walking out the door. We are blessed with beautiful woods and trails in our backyard, neighbors who share our love of the outdoors and their trails and the National Forest in our backyard.

This weekend, I put on snowshoes, took the dogs and walked through the woods for almost an hour, enjoying all that it had to offer on a beautiful, sunny winter day. I came back, did a few errands, put up sauce for dinner and then put on my cross country skis and did it again.

It was good to be outside and nice to know that I can enjoy the wonders of the winter right from my own backyard. Hope you are enjoying the wonders of winter!

img_5071We went away to do some cross country skiing for our anniversary. Both of us used to downhill ski, one of us was much better than the other, but we don’t want to give him a bigger ego so we won’t mention any names. Then I took up cross country skiing since I could literally walk out my side door put on my skis and go off into the woods behind our house and ski, no lugging of skis, boots, poles, accoutrements into and out of vehicle, driving, etc.

Some days, I would bundle up like I was headed off into the tundra, which sometimes best describes that area in our yard where we park our vehicles, and then as I made each loop through the yard I would shed gloves, the hat, a scarf or even my jacket – you get the picture, I obviously bundled up too much. The nice thing about skiing right outside your door was that I could just go inside by skiing back to my doorstep, no lugging  of equipment, no driving, no changing.

Tom started joining me and the loops through the woods got longer, mostly because he knows his way around the woods far better than I. To say I am a bit directionally challenged would make those that know me laugh hysterically, but I wouldn’t wander too far into the trails alone in the woods for fear I might never make it out.

This was the first time that we actually went to a nordic center to ski. It was nice, the trails were well groomed and wide. While it was nice and we had a fun day, it did make us appreciate our own little “trail system” all that much more. Often, you need to wander away from home to realize just how lucky you are with what you have and often take for granted.

 

 

Rainy weekends are usually lazy weekends around here. You can’t feel guilty about not getting things done because there’s not much outdoor work be done in the rain — well, technically I guess you could, but I’m not feeling that motivated. We took a drive, with our chauffeur, down to Bob’s Diner for a Sunday brunch taking the scenic drive through Londonderry.

 

 

Then, when we got back we took a walk in the woods.

 

 

 

 

 

We were hiking through the trails in the woods cleaning them up in preparation for CROSS COUNTRY SKIING! Yes, it is getting close to that time of the year!

 

 

 

Okay, so maybe I wasn’t doing quite as much cleaning up as Tom, but hey I did get him to smile for his picture!

 

 

Went out cross country skiing at lunch today. It was a beautiful day, sunny with good company. Unfortunately, my ski pants, my pole and my bottom did not fare as well as the rest of me.

We have this series of trails literally outside our door and through the woods. One of the trails is my nemesis since it is rather steep downhill over a water hazard (which by the way does in fact contain rocks and sticks) and then immediately makes a sharp right turn. It is usually okay on days later in the winter when there are feet of snow on top of it because the water has frozen and it has been packed down from use. Today, however, was not that day. I splendidly slid, almost navigating the water hazard, but alas, not to be and my hipbone thankfully cushioned somewhat by the padding of my butt met the water and an evidently nice sized rock or two and some sticks. While collecting myself from the wreckage, I noticed that I had broken the basket on the bottom of my ski pole. Literally right off the pole. So now, armed with one ski pole and one stick (which would have worked wonderfully for poking out an eye or picking up litter on the side of the highway with the prison patrol) I set off again. Being the litigious person that I am (yeah, right) I decided to file a complaint with the trail master. Lousy trail grooming, open water hazards, what was this crap? (Mind you that my own klutzy nature is not at all to blame here – although a Tammy falls across East Wallingford tour was mentioned by a certain someone whose name shall not be spoken). During all of this spectacle of sportsmanship on my part, mind you, the trail master was about ten feet in front of me (and had incidentally navigated the water hazard hill sharp turn thing just fine, thank you) so the yelling and complaining was not all that difficult to do.

We got back home and when I took off my (new last season) snowpants, I realized that they had suffered more damage than my bruised butt and explained why the seat of my pants was wet. Poor ski pants, poor pole, poor me. Bad Trail Master. Bad, Bad Trail Master! I expect better trail grooming in the future…. and less laughing.

It was cold, but a beautiful day for a ski. These pictures are from our backyard. It was a clear, crisp day, just perfect for some quality time with nature, away from the chaos that has been our house with the influx of boys. Tonight there are three extras running around.

Vermont and skiing seem to go together naturally. In fact, in many respects, Vermont’s history is instrumental to the sport of skiing. In the early 1900’s a group of Norwegians living by Stowe, Vermont introduced the concept of strapping pieces of wood to one’s feet to navigate the almost impassable roadways during the winter time. The idea slowly caught on with the locals. Ski jumps were built in Mt. Mansfield and Middlebury, Vermont and competitions began to take form. The first ski race in Vermont happened at Mt. Mansfield in 1934 when a group of skiers climbed the mountain and then raced down it on their skis.

The first tow-rope was also created here in Vermont by a man called Bunny Bertram in Woodstock, Vermont. He rigged a Ford Model T engine with a continuous loop of rope, effectively pulling skiers up the hill. This concept caught on quickly and soon these tow ropes. Another Vermont resident Fred Pabst, took the tow rope idea to another level and created the J-bar which would drag skiers up the slopes without tearing up their hands and mittens. The first T-bar in the United States was put in at Pico Mountain, which was essentially a J-bar with another side, allowing two skiers to simultaneously be pulled up the mountain. This innovation made Pico Mountain “the” ski resort during the 1930s. The chairlift as we now know it, didn’t come to Vermont until the 1940s.

Mad River Glen would have its workers stomp the entire mountain by foot to groom it – from top to bottom (talk about exhausting).

Vermont has long been in the forefront of skiing as winter recreation. It is the third largest skiing state in the country and hosts over 4 million skiers a year, according to Governor Douglas. It is with this history that today Governor Douglas has proclaimed January “Learn a Snow Sport Month” here in Vermont.

From January 4 through January 11, most Vermont ski resorts are offering a free learn to ski or snowboard lesson and rentals. For information go to www.skivermont.com. The community outreach project initiated by Winter Feels Good is intended to introduce as many people as possible to the fun and exercise of winter snow sports.

Winter Trails offers a free opportunity to try snowshoeing or cross country skiing on January 9th. See www.wintertrails.org for information.

Information on the history of skiing in Vermont came from www.vermonter.com

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Today is Opening Day. No, not baseball opening day and no, not hunting opening day. Today is Snowmobiling Opening Day. Today is the first day that the VAST trails are open since hunting season ended yesterday.

Founded almost 40 years ago, VAST is responsible for the organization of the sport, maintaining and grooming trails. One of the oldest snowmobiling organizations in the U.S., VAST is a non-profit, private group that includes 138 clubs statewide, with over 35,000 members combined. (Taken from VAST’s site)

Beginning today, snowmobile trails throughout the state of Vermont are open for riding. Most of the riding takes place on private lands that landowners generously allow to be used by snowmobilers. Wouldn’t find that in New Jersey now would you? No one here thinks twice if a band of snowmobilers comes riding through their yard. After all, it’s winter. No more so than the rouge cross-country skier or snowshoer that wanders through.  Did you know that you can travel from one end of the state to the other solely by snowmobile? How cool is that? We are lucky that we have trails right outside of our door and Tom and Tyler will be off on the snowmobobies (as Tyler used to call them). The side benefit to me, is that I get my cross-country ski trails groomed in the mix. It’s all good.

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